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New York Court Explains Burdens of Proof in Medical Malpractice Cases

When people suffer harm in the course of receiving medical care, it is often due to the incompetence of their healthcare providers. Negligent healthcare providers, however, will rarely admit liability. In other words, the parties will dispute whether the medical acts in question were performed properly and, if not, whether they were the cause of the patient’s harm. Whichever party presents more compelling arguments typically prevails, but in some cases, the courts rule improvidently and dismiss a plaintiff’s medical malpractice case despite evidence that indicates they should be permitted to proceed with their claims. Recently, a New York court discussed the ground for granting summary judgment dismissal of medical malpractice claims in a case in which the plaintiff’s claims were ultimately reinstated. If you were hurt by a reckless physician, you should talk to a Rochester medical malpractice lawyer about your potential claims.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff, who was 28 weeks pregnant, went to the defendant hospital with complaints of decreased fetal movement. The defendant’s residents examined the plaintiff, and the plaintiff was admitted to the hospital. The following morning the defendant ob-gyn examined the plaintiff’s fetal monitoring strip and recommended that the plaintiff’s care remain the same. The next day, a sonogram showed that the fetus had a weak heart rate, and the plaintiff underwent an emergency c-section.

Allegedly, the infant suffered severe brain damage due to the fact that he was deprived of oxygen before delivery. He died shortly after he was born. The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuit against the defendants. The defendant ob-gyn moved for summary judgment, and the court granted his motion. The plaintiff appealed.

Burdens of Proof in Medical Malpractice Cases

On appeal, the court reversed the trial court ruling. The court explained that the essential elements of a medical malpractice claim are the deviation from the standards of practice that are accepted in the community and proof that such deviation proximately caused the damages sustained. As such, a defendant moving for summary judgment must show that there was no such departure or that if there was, it was not the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s losses.

In opposition to a defendant’s motion for summary judgment, a plaintiff must offer materials or facts that refute the defendant’s prima facie showing and demonstrate that a triable issue of fact exists. In the subject case, the court found that the defendant ob-gyn adequately established his right to summary judgment via an expert affidavit opining that he did not depart from the standard of care. In response, however, the plaintiff submitted her own affidavit refuting the defendant’s expert’s claims. As such, the court found that a triable issue of fact existed and reversed the trial court ruling.

Speak to an Experienced Rochester Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Mistakes made by medical professionals can have devastating consequences, and people harmed by such errors can often recover damages via medical malpractice claims. If you sustained harm or lost a loved one due to the negligence of your treatment provider, it is smart to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. The experienced Rochester medical malpractice lawyers of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can inform you of your rights and aid you in pursuing the maximum amount of compensation available under the law. You can reach us through our form online or by calling us at 585-653-7343 to set up a consultation.

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