Do I Have a Medical Malpractice Case?

We rely on the skill and experience of doctors to assist us if we become ill or injured.  While most doctors are trained professionals, medical negligence occurs at alarmingly high rates across the country. The Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) recently reported that medical malpractice is now the third most common cause of death in the United States.  If you have suffered an injury or experienced a worsening illness at the hands of a New York physician or medical facility, you should review some important facts about medical malpractice lawsuits in the state.

Basic Requirements of a Medical Malpractice Claim

To have a viable medical malpractice action, you will need to establish the following:

  1. The existence of a doctor-patient relationship: You will need to demonstrate that a physician-patient relationship existed with the doctor that you are filing a malpractice claim against. This means that the doctor was formally treating you.
  2. Negligence on the part of the doctor: To be liable for malpractice, the doctor must have acted negligent in relation to the diagnosis or treatment.  You must be able to show that the doctor caused you harm in a manner that a competent doctor, under similar circumstances, would not have.
  3. Negligence caused your injuries: You will need to establish a link between the doctor’s actions and the harm you suffered.  You must show that more likely than not the doctor’s negligence caused the injury.
  4. The injury led to damages: To be actionable, you must have suffered damages as a result of your doctor’s negligence.  Damages could include medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.

Statute of Limitations for Malpractice Claims in NY

Even if your case meets all of the elements for a medical malpractice action, if it is time-barred you may not be entitled to relief.  Under New York law, a medical malpractice action should be commenced within two and a half years of the alleged malpractice. This applies to those over 18 years old.  Those under 18 years get a longer time period.  furthermore, the two years and six months may, in some but not all cases, actually start on the last date of treatment with the doctor or hospital who is responsible for the malpractice and only if that treatment was the same or similar condition as the treatment rendered negligently.  Many states offer an exception to this rule when the injury is not discovered until later on.  New York, however, has a limited discovery rule that applies solely to cases where a foreign body has been left in the patient’s body during surgery.  This may soon change as the legislature considers adopting a broader discovery rule in malpractice cases.

About the Author
Of all the different areas in medical malpractice, it is podiatry malpractice that has had a particular interest to me. With 42 years practicing law and representing hundreds of victims of malpractice, I have created a law practice in which my clients are comfortable knowing that their case is being handled with my personal attention, in the most professional manner, and without unreasonable delays.