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Court Discusses Burdens of Proof in New York Medical Malpractice Cases

A doctor accused of medical malpractice will rarely admit liability. On the contrary, many health care providers named as defendants in medical malpractice lawsuits will ask the courts to dismiss the claims against them via a motion for summary judgment. Recently, a New York court discussed each party’s burden of proof with regard to motions for summary judgment in medical malpractice cases. If you were injured by the negligence of your healthcare provider, it is prudent to consult a Rochester medical malpractice attorney to evaluate what evidence you must produce to recover damages.

The History of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff was transported via ambulance to the defendant hospital. When he was in the triage area, he began to seize. The defendant doctor examined the plaintiff, who shortly thereafter suffered a heart attack. He was resuscitated and transferred to the intensive care unit, where the doctors induced hypothermia. Two days after his admission, he was examined by the defendant vascular surgeon for compartment syndrome, as his legs were blue and rigid. He ultimately underwent a bilateral amputation of his legs above the knees.

Allegedly, the plaintiff and his file instituted claims against the defendants for lack of informed consent and medical malpractice. The defendants moved for summary judgment, arguing they were entitled to judgment in their favor as a matter of law. The court granted their motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Burdens of Proof in New York Medical Malpractice Cases

In New York medical malpractice cases, a defendant seeking summary judgment must show, prima facie, that it did not depart from the accepted and good practice of medicine, or any departure did not cause the plaintiff to suffer harm. If a defendant makes this prima facie showing, the burden then shifts to the plaintiff to rebut the defendant’s showing by demonstrating that triable issues of fact exist with regard to both the departure and causation elements.

The court noted that summary judgment is not appropriate where the parties submit conflicting expert opinions. While an expert does not need to be a specialist in order to testify regarding the standard of care in a certain field, they must possess the skills and training required to deliver an opinion in that field. As such, a foundation must be laid to support the reliability of an opinion issued by a doctor opining outside of his practice area. If such a foundation is lacking, the expert’s opinion will be of no probative value.

In the subject case, the court found that the defendant’s met their burden of proof by submitting opinions from qualified experts stating that they did not deviate from the standard of care. While the plaintiff submitted expert reports, he failed to establish that his experts were qualified. As such, the trial court properly dismissed his claims.

Meet with an Experienced Rochester Attorney

Patients who sustain injuries because of careless medical treatment have the right to seek damages from the providers that caused their harm, but if they cannot establish the elements of medical malpractice, their claims may be dismissed. If you suffered harm due to the negligence of your doctor, it is smart to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The experienced Rochester medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can inform you of your possible causes of action and aid you in pursuing any damages recoverable under the law. You can reach us by calling 833-200-2000 or using our online form to set up a meeting.







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