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New York Court Discusses Medical Malpractice Claims Against Municipalities

In New York, people that render medical care to other individuals are generally held to a higher standard of care than an ordinary person and may be deemed liable for medical malpractice if they deviate from the standard. In some instances, though, a plaintiff harmed by negligent medical care must prove the existence of special duty in order to recover damages, such as in cases in which the alleged harm was caused by a municipality providing emergency medical services. This was discussed in a recent medical malpractice case filed in New York, in which the defendant asked the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims. If you suffered an injury or illness because of incompetent medical care, it is advisable to speak to a zealous Rochester medical malpractice attorney to determine whether you may be able to recover compensation.

Factual and Procedural History

It is reported that someone called 911 after the plaintiff’s decedent suffered a grave injury. The defendants, a municipality, an emergency medical service operated by the municipality, and a fire department operated by the municipality, were delayed in responding to the call. Further, when they arrived at the scene of the accident, they rendered improper treatment to the plaintiff’s decedent, who ultimately died from his injuries. The plaintiff then filed a lawsuit against the defendants, alleging claims of medical malpractice, wrongful death, and negligence. The defendants moved to have the claims dismissed, but the trial court denied their motion, after which they appealed. On appeal, the trial court ruling was affirmed.

Pursuing Medical Malpractice Claims Against a Municipality

On review, the appellate court explained that when a defendant moves to have a complaint dismissed for the failure to state a cause of action, the complaint should be granted a liberal construction. In other words, the facts alleged are presumed to be true, the plaintiff should be afforded every inference that is favorable, and the court’s role is limited to assessing whether the alleged facts fall under any valid legal theory. In other words, the court should not weigh whether the plaintiff’s claims will ultimately be successful.

The appellate court went on to explain that when a municipality provides the community with the service of emergency medical technicians who respond to 911 calls for assistance, the municipality is performing a function of the government and cannot be held liable unless it owed the injured party a special duty. Such a duty may arise when the entity voluntarily undertook a duty to the plaintiff beyond what it owed the general public. In other words, when the municipality willingly assumed a special relationship with the injured party. In the subject case, the court found that the plaintiff’s bill of particulars adequately alleged the existence of a special relationship between the plaintiff’s decedent and the municipality. As such, the trial court ruling was affirmed.

Confer with a Seasoned Rochester Attorney

People harmed by the careless acts of a party providing health care may be able to seek damages in a civil lawsuit and should confer with an attorney regarding their rights. The seasoned Rochester medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers are proficient at handling complex cases and we can advise you of your options and help you to seek a just outcome. You can contact us through our online form or at 585-653-7343 to schedule a meeting.

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