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New York Court Discusses Differences Between Negligence and Medical Malpractice Claims

Under New York law, there are different statutes of limitations for pursuing negligence and medical malpractice actions. While such claims are similar, there are key differences between them, and if a party seeking damages for harm caused by a medical professional fails to properly characterize their claims, they may unintentionally waive their right to recover compensation. This was demonstrated in a recent New York opinion in which the court dismissed the plaintiff’s claims, finding that they were barred by the two-and-a-half-year statute of limitations that applies to medical malpractice actions. If you suffered harm due to the negligence of a doctor, it is important to confer with a Rochester medical malpractice attorney promptly to protect your rights.

Factual and Procedural Background of the Case

It is alleged that the decedent received medical care at the defendant hospital in September 2015 for unspecified health concerns. He died two weeks into his hospital admission. Approximately three years later, the plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant asserting wrongful death and medical malpractice claims. The defendant then moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s medical malpractice claim on the grounds it was barred by the two-and-a-half-year statute of limitations. The plaintiff opposed the motion, arguing that her claims sounded in negligence and not medical malpractice. The court granted the motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Differences Between Negligence and Medical Malpractice Claims

On appeal, the court affirmed the dismissal of the plaintiff’s claim. In doing so, the court discussed the nuances between negligence and medical malpractice claims. The court noted that the distinction is subtle, and no sharp line divides the two. Rather, whether a claim sounds in medical malpractice or ordinary negligence turns on whether the behavior complained of involves an art or matter of medical science requiring special skills not typically possessed by lay people or whether the acts or omissions complained of could be evaluated on the basis of the common experience of the judge or jury.

The court clarified that if the gist of the complaint is the failure to fulfill a duty other than providing competent medical treatment to a patient, it sounds in ordinary negligence. In contrast, if determining liability involves the consideration of professional judgment and skill, it sounds in medical malpractice. In other words, medical malpractice is the negligent omission or act by a health care provider that constitutes medical treatment or bears a substantial relationship to the rendering of medical treatment by a licensed medical professional to a patient.

In the subject case, the court found that the plaintiff’s claims sounded in medical malpractice, as they argued that the defendant failed to properly diagnose and treat the decedent. As such, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Trusted Rochester Medical Malpractice Lawyer

When health care providers negligently perform their duties, and their patients suffer harm as a result of their carelessness, it often constitutes medical malpractice. If you or a loved one suffered injuries due to incompetent medical care, it is in your best interest to meet with an attorney to discuss your rights. The trusted Rochester medical malpractice lawyers of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can assess the circumstances surrounding your losses and help you pursue the best legal outcome possible under the facts of your case. You can reach us via our form online or by calling us at 585-653-7343 to set up a meeting.

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