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Court Discusses Proving a Doctor Proximately Caused a Patient’s Harm Under New York Law

Under New York law, establishing liability in a medical malpractice case requires a plaintiff to establish that the defendant departed from the applicable standard of care and that such a departure caused the plaintiff harm. If the plaintiff is unable to offer evidence sufficient to meet their burden, their claims may be dismissed, as illustrated in a recent New York ruling. If you sustained injuries because of the carelessness of your treatment provider, it is advisable to consult a Rochester medical malpractice attorney to determine whether you may be able to pursue damages in a civil lawsuit.

Factual Background of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff visited the defendant medical center after he suffered injuries in a slip and fall accident. The defendant doctor assessed and treated him upon arrival at the center. The plaintiff subsequently sustained unspecified losses, which he attributed to the care he received from the defendants. As such, he instituted a medical malpractice lawsuit against them, in which he asserted that the defendant doctor’s negligence caused his harm and the defendant medical center was vicariously liable for the defendant doctor’s negligence. The defendants moved for summary judgment, but the court denied their motions. They then appealed.

Proving a Doctor Proximately Caused a Patient’s Harm

On appeal, the court reversed the trial court ruling and dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint in its entirety. The court explained that defendants in medical malpractice cases bear the burden of showing that the evidence, on its face, establishes that they did not deviate from the accepted practice of medicine, or if they did, that their departure did not proximately cause the plaintiff’s losses.

If the defendant makes such a showing, the burden shifts to the plaintiff, who must then submit evidence sufficient to rebut the defendant’s assertions. Conclusory allegations are inadequate to meet this burden. In order for a plaintiff’s expert opinion not to be deemed speculative, it must address specific allegations made by the defendant’s experts and must rely on specific evidence, and set forth explanations for its reasoning.

In the subject case, the court found that the defendants each demonstrated their right to summary judgment as a matter of law by submitting expert affirmations, medical records, and deposition testimony. In response, the plaintiff merely offered speculative averments on the issue of proximate cause. As such, the court found that the plaintiff failed to meet his burden of proof and reversed the trial court ruling.

Talk to a Seasoned Rochester Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Doctors are bound by certain professional standards, and if the care they offer fails to meet such standards, it may constitute medical malpractice. If you were hurt due to your doctor’s negligence,  it is prudent to meet with an attorney to discuss your possible claims. The seasoned Rochester medical malpractice lawyers of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers take pride in helping people harmed by medical negligence pursue justice for their losses, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can reach us through our form online or by calling us at 585-653-7343 to set up a meeting.

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