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Medical Malpractice Claims and Lawsuits in New York

Options available to patients harmed by medical negligence in New York City

New York City medical malpractice claims or lawsuits often turn out to be complicated legal cases. Whether it’s a surgical error made by a surgeon at New York Presbyterian Hospital, a misdiagnosis by a doctor or another type of medical error involving a nurse or another medical professional at Queens Hospital Center or another medical facility, knowing what to do next can be overwhelming.

This is why it’s important for people dealing with injuries or illnesses due to medical malpractice in New York City to fully understand their legal rights. That way, they can get the financial assistance and support they need when they need it most. 

What is medical malpractice?

Medical malpractice is a legal term used to describe an injury or illness caused by mistakes made by medical professionals. Some examples of malpractice include:

  • Misdiagnosis – Medical professional incorrectly diagnoses a disease or injury due to failing to follow diagnostic standards of care, such as not ordering medically indicated tests or misinterpreting test results. Misdiagnosis can lead to delayed treatment for the actual medical condition as well as unnecessary treatment for an incorrect condition, such as unnecessary surgery.
  • Delay in diagnosis – Injury, illness or disease not diagnosed in a timely manner, often resulting in a delay in treatment.
  • Medication error – A patient is given the wrong medication, the wrong dose, or the right medication by the wrong route, or a doctor, nurse or pharmacist fails to account for medication allergies or interactions.
  • Surgical error – Injuries caused by surgical mistakes, wrong surgical procedure performed on patient, surgical tools left inside the patient’s body, or infections due to unsanitary conditions in operating room.
  • Anesthesia error – Injuries caused by mistakes involving anesthesia during surgery.
  • Emergency room malpractice – Injuries or illnesses caused by mistakes made by emergency room doctors, nurses or other medical professionals.

Not every poor patient outcome means malpractice has occurred, nor is every medical mistake necessarily grounds for a malpractice claim. Malpractice means the medical professional failed to meet established standards of care and that failure led to illness or injury.

What are common medical malpractice injuries?

Injuries due to medical malpractice can cover a wide range, including:

  • Birth injury caused by mistakes made by medical professionals during pregnancy (known as prenatal injuries), during the delivery of child or soon after a child’s birth (known as neonatal injuries).
  • Brain injuries.
  • Infection, especially hospital infections due to unsanitary conditions.
  • Internal bleeding, often due to surgical errors.
  • Heart attack or stroke, often due to misdiagnosis of medical condition.

In addition, malpractice can result in the underlying medical condition getting worse because it is not properly diagnosed in a timely manner. This can be deadly for cases involving life-threatening diseases that must be caught early, such as cancer.

What 4 things must injury victims prove in a medical malpractice case?

In order to have a medical malpractice claim, a medical malpractice case must meet four distinct criteria known as the four D’s:

  • Duty – Medical professional owed a duty of care (responsibility) to the patient.
  • Dereliction – Medical professional breached duty of care, meaning they failed to act according to standards of care.
  • Direct cause – Medical professional’s actions or inactions directly resulted in a patient’s injury.
  • Damages – Patient suffered a financial loss as a result of their injury or illness. “Damages” is the legal term used to describe the payment made to malpractice victims to pay for such financial losses.

A medical malpractice attorney’s job is to prove that all four elements of a medical malpractice case apply to their client’s injury or illness.

Is there a medical malpractice cap in New York?

Some states have a limit (cap) on how much money medical malpractice injury victims can receive in a claim or lawsuit. However, New York State does not have a cap on medical malpractice claims or lawsuits. As a result, there is no limit for how much money an injury victim or their family can seek in damages for a medical malpractice lawsuit in New York. It all comes down to what a New York jury is willing to award.

How much is my medical malpractice case worth?

There is no set dollar amount when it comes to particular types of medical malpractice cases. Some might be worth a few thousand dollars. Similar cases might be worth significantly more. What matters is that victims of medical malpractice should be financially compensated for all their injury-related expenses, now and in the future. Such expenses can include:

  • Cost of all medical procedures, including the cost of diagnosing the injury or illness, surgical procedures and hospital fees. For instance, a surgical error may require revision surgery to correct the mistake.
  • Cost of anticipated future medical procedures, including follow-up surgery and ongoing medical care due to a chronic medical condition caused by medical malpractice.
  • Prescription medications and medical devices.
  • In-home medical care or assistance.
  • Replacement income while someone recovers from their injury and cannot work.
  • Lost future income if someone cannot return to work due to a permanent disability or chronic medical condition.
  • Pain and suffering in certain circumstances.

Who can I sue for medical malpractice in NYC?

If a medical professional’s actions (or inaction) resulted in your injury or illness, you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit against them in New York seeking damages. That may include a lawsuit against an individual doctor or other medical professional in private practice. It may also include a claim against a hospital, clinic, or other medical facility that employed the negligent medical professional.

Is there a deadline for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in New York?

In most cases, malpractice victims in New York have 30 months to file a lawsuit seeking damages. The 30-month-long deadline (known as the statute of limitations) starts from when the medical procedure was performed or when the injury or illness occurred. If the injury or illness occurred as part of an ongoing medical treatment, the 30-month deadline would start on the date of the last medical treatment. Details about this 2-year, 6-month deadline can be found in the Consolidated Laws of New York, Chapter 8, Article 2, Section 214.

However, different deadlines can apply in different circumstances, so it’s always in your best interest to talk to a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.

What is New York’s discovery rule?

While the 30-month-long statute of limitations law applies to most New York medical malpractice cases, there are a few exceptions to this rule. In particular, New York’s discovery rule gives injury victims more time to file a lawsuit seeking damages in certain cases.

The discovery rule simply means the deadline starts when the injury or illness was discovered, even if that is months or years after the malpractice occurred. New York’s discovery rule for medical malpractice cases is limited in scope. It applies to two situations:

  • Surgeon or another medical professional left a medical instrument or another object (sponge, surgical glove, etc.) inside a patient during surgery.
  • Failure to diagnose cancer, in which case a seven-year statute of limitations generally applies.

Again, only an attorney can advise whether the discovery rule applies in your situation.

Should I accept a settlement offer or file a medical malpractice lawsuit?

If you sustained a serious injury or illness due to medical malpractice in New York, you generally have two options:

  • Accept a settlement offer from the at-fault party’s malpractice insurance company.
  • File a medical malpractice lawsuit against the at-fault party.

Many times, a settlement offer might seem tempting, especially if you already have significant financial losses as a result of your injury or illness.

But it’s important to understand that if you accept a settlement offer, that’s it. Your case is settled. You will receive a one-time check to settle your case once and for all. If you have additional expenses months or years after your injury or illness, you cannot ask for more money.

This is why many malpractice victims choose to file a lawsuit seeking damages. That way, they can demand the maximum financial compensation for all past, present and future expenses due to their injury or illness. Ultimately, only an attorney can tell you whether it’s in your interest to file a lawsuit.

How can a New York City medical malpractice lawyer help?

Navigating New York’s legal system can be complicated in any situation, but medical malpractice cases are among the most complex legal cases in the city. Malpractice claims require you to meet very specific legal standards that require in-depth investigation and retaining medical experts. Medical professionals and healthcare organizations often hire entire teams of lawyers to defend their actions and deny your injury claim or lawsuit.

With an experienced New York City medical malpractice attorney on your side, you can level the playing field and make sure that your injury or illness gets the attention and respect it rightfully deserves. Most New York medical malpractice attorneys offer a free consultation, so there is no downside to getting answers about your legal rights and options. If you or a loved one is a victim of medical malpractice, schedule your consultation today.

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