If you’ve had a medical procedure recently that left you with drop foot, you may be thinking about medical malpractice. Medical malpractice is a special type of negligence that occurs when health care providers aren’t careful enough and make mistakes that cause you harm. For example, if your doctor was doing a procedure on your knee and caused the nerve damage that left you with drop foot, he or she may have committed medical malpractice. If you had a bad medical experience and are considering filing a malpractice claim, there is some important information you need to know.
Medical malpractice claims have three basic elements in New York
Under New York law, to be successful in a medical malpractice action you need to be able to prove three facts to the court:
- You were under the care of a health care provider
The first fact you need to prove is that you were actually under the care of the doctor or other health care provider. That’s because medical malpractice actions are a special kind of negligence lawsuit to address harm that occurs between a doctor and his or her patient. If you just happen to be in the hospital and a doctor rushing to the Emergency Room knocks you down, that doctor might be liable for another type of negligence, but because they weren’t treating you as a patient your injury doesn’t qualify as medical malpractice.
- In the course of treating you, your provider failed to act as a health care provider is supposed to act
This second factor is much more difficult to prove. You’ll need to show that your health care provider acted unreasonably in a way that other doctors wouldn’t have acted. This could take lots of forms. Some cases are obvious, like operating on the wrong arm or leg. Other cases are more subtle, for example an obstetrician who is too rough during delivery and accidentally injures the baby. And the scariest cases are the kind you have no way to know about, like a doctor who detects a cancer but fails to diagnose it. Proving that your health care provider acted improperly frequently requires testimony from experts like other doctors.
- Because of your health care provider’s actions, you suffered an injury
Finally, you’ll need to be able to prove that because of your doctor’s mistake you suffered an injury. If you went in for a procedure and left with drop foot, that’s a good indication but is not enough proof for the court. To be successful in a malpractice action, you may also need experts to testify that the doctor’s mistake was what caused your injury.
There is a time limit to file medical malpractice claims
Like most lawsuits, medical malpractice claims are subject to a time limit called the statute of limitations. In New York, you have 2½ years (30 months) to file your claim. If you file too late, the court will dismiss your case without hearing it!
If you’ve had a medical procedure that left you with drop foot, the first thing you need to do is get proper medical attention. But after that, it’s critical that you speak with a qualified attorney right away to discuss malpractice actions. Two-and-a-half-years may seem like a long time, but investigating and preparing a lawsuit takes time as well. Our firm’s attorneys have handled hundreds of New York medical malpractice cases, and are available to discuss your case with you. If you need advice about medical malpractice, call us to set up a free consult today.