The amount of time a person has to start a lawsuit is called the Statute of Limitations. To start a lawsuit, papers have to be filed in a courthouse and then delivered to the people named as defendants in the lawsuit. This legal time period differs from state to state. In New York State, generally, against a privileged doctor or hospital a patient has 2 1/2 years from the date of the last negligent event. In New York State, if the medical malpractice / negligence occurred at a municipal hospital, there are very strict periods much shorter in length. A Notice of Claim has to be filed with the municipality within 90 days of an event and a lawsuit must be started within one year and 90 days. At a hospital operated by the State of New York, a Notice of Intention to File Claim must be made within 90 days of the event. There are specific tolls for lawsuits involving children, mental disability, and continuous treatment.