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New York Court Explains Res Ipsa Loquitur in Medical Malpractice Cases

Generally, a plaintiff injured by a reckless health care provider must produce expert testimony regarding the breach of the standard of care. In cases in which the harm suffered is clearly the result of negligence, though, the plaintiff may be able to argue that the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur, which means that evidence speaks for itself, applies and an expert opinion is not necessary.  In a recent New York opinion in a matter involving the negligence of a proctologist, a court explained what a plaintiff must prove to show that res ipsa loquitur applies. If you were hurt because of a negligent proctologist, you could be owed damages, and you should consult a dedicated Rochester proctology malpractice attorney as soon as possible.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is reported that the defendant performed a colonoscopy on the plaintiff. During the procedure, the defendant repositioned the plaintiff, causing him to fall. The plaintiff injured his right shoulder as a result. He then filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, alleging negligence claims. Following discovery, the defendant moved to have the plaintiff’s claims dismissed through summary judgment. The plaintiff objected to the motion, arguing that the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur applied, and therefore, he did not need to produce an expert opinion to prove liability. The court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Res Ipsa Loquitur in Medical Malpractice Cases

A plaintiff seeking to rely on the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur must show that the event that occurred was one that does not happen absent negligence and that the instrumentality that caused the harm suffered was within the exclusive control of the defendant. The plaintiff must also prove that the injury was not the result of his or her voluntary actions.

A plaintiff arguing res ipsa loquitur does not have to show that there are no other possible causes of the injury, as the evidence supporting the elements of res ipsa loquitur should provide a rational basis for concluding that it is more likely than not that the defendant’s negligence caused the injury suffered. Put another way, the plaintiff only has to show that the likelihood of other causes of harm is so reduced that it is highly probable the defendant is liable.

In the subject case, the court noted that in response to the defendant’s motion for summary judgment, the plaintiff did not raise a triable issue of fact with regard to the applicability of the doctrine of res ipsa loquitur. Specifically, he did not argue that the injury was one that did not happen in the absence of negligence or that the injury was caused by an instrument exclusively within the control of the defendant. As such, the trial court’s ruling was affirmed.

Meet with a Seasoned Malpractice Attorney

Unexpected errors during routine procedures can cause lasting harm. If you were hurt due to proctologist malpractice, it is advisable to consult a lawyer to discuss your options. The seasoned medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers are adept at helping injured parties seek compensation, and we can assess your potential claims. You can contact us via our form online or at 585-653-7343 to schedule a consultation.

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