Under New York law, even if a person harmed by negligent medical care has a legitimate claim for damages, procedural errors may prevent the person from recovering compensation. For example, it is imperative that any medical malpractice claim is filed within two and a half years of the alleged date of harm; otherwise, it may be deemed untimely and dismissed. There are some exceptions to the general rule, though, such as when claims are permitted under the relation-back doctrine. Recently, a New York opinion discussed what a plaintiff must prove to show that the relation-back doctrine applies in a case arising out of primary care malpractice. If you were hurt due to negligent treatment in a primary care setting, you should confer with a diligent Rochester primary care malpractice attorney as soon as possible to protect your rights.
Procedural History of the Case
It is reported that the plaintiff’s decedent treated with the defendant primary care physicians over a span of four days leading up to her death. After the plaintiff’s decedent’s untimely demise, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit, alleging the defendants’ medical malpractice led to the decedent’s death. The facility that employed the defendants at the time of the alleged harm accepted service on behalf of one of the defendants but not the other, as he was no longer employed there.
It is alleged that during the course of discovery, the plaintiff’s attorney realized he named the incorrect individual defendants. He then moved to discontinue the claims against the defendants and name the facility where they worked as defendants. As the statute of limitations had passed, he argued that the relation-back doctrine applied. The court denied his motion, and he appealed.
The Relation Back Doctrine
A plaintiff who wishes to file a claim after the applicable statute of limitations has passed bears the burden of proving that the relation-back doctrine applies. Under the doctrine, a plaintiff can amend a complaint to add a new party even though the statute of limitations has passed if three conditions are met. First, prior and new claims must arise out of the same incident. Secondly, the new defendants must share a united interest with the original defendants. Lastly, the new defendant must either know or reasonably should know that except for an error committed by the plaintiff, the lawsuit would have been pursued against the new defendant in a timely manner.
In the subject case, the court found that the defendant failed to meet the second and third conditions. The court explained that as the plaintiff admitted the original defendants were not liable, there was no unity of interest between them and the new defendants. Further, the court noted that the plaintiff possessed knowledge that the original defendants did not perform any harmful actions prior to the running of the statute of limitations. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.
Meet with a Capable Rochester Attorney
People rely on primary care physicians to help them protect and maintain their health, but doctors who provide negligent treatment often cause their patients to suffer harm. If you were injured by primary care malpractice, you might be owed damages, and you should promptly seek legal counsel. The capable attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers are skilled at helping people hurt by careless doctors in the pursuit of damages, and we will zealously advocate on your behalf. You can contact us by calling 585-653-7343 or using our online form to set up a consultation.