Skilled Bronx Attorneys Representing Patients Injured by Medical Negligence
Doctors and hospitals are among the most trusted professionals and institutions in our society, and the sting of the betrayal of this trust that hits victims of medical malpractice cannot – and should never – be ignored. At Jesse Minc Personal Injury Law, we advocate for the rights of patients in the New York City area who have suffered injuries because of the negligence and medical malpractice of doctors and other medical professionals. Medical malpractice occurs when a health care provider departs from accepted standards of care, resulting in serious injuries to a patient. Medical personnel, such as doctors, residents, and nurses, as well as medical facilities like hospitals, practice groups, and clinics, can be held liable for medical malpractice under New York law when medical negligence causes harm to you or to a member of your family. Whether your injury results from a surgical error, a failure to make a proper diagnosis, a premature discharge from a hospital, or any other breach of a medical professional’s duty of care to ensure that their patients are properly diagnosed, monitored and treated, our Bronx medical malpractice lawyers are ready to pursue justice for you and recover every penny of damages owed to you under the law
The Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim in New York
New York medical malpractice claims are a species of “negligence” claims, which is perhaps the most important of all of the legal theories in play in New York personal injury cases. To establish liability for negligence, generally, a plaintiff must show that the defendant owed them a duty of care, that they breached this duty, and that this caused injuries to the plaintiff. In the context of medical malpractice claims, the elements of a negligence claim translate as follows: A doctor, hospital, or other medical provider is obligated to render medical care and treatment in accordance with standards of care applicable to a particular specialty of medicine, and if they depart from these standards of care and proximately cause harm to a patient, they are liable for the full amount of damages that result from the departure. Medical professionals like doctors, of course, must be licensed by the state in order to practice medicine. This license – as well as the physicians’ code of ethics, and the Hippocratic Oath – carries with it a duty of care and responsibility to patients to competently and assiduously render care and treatment to them, and medical malpractice claims arise from a breach of this duty.
A doctor’s duty of care extends to anyone who has entered into a doctor-patient relationship. This usually occurs when the patient and the doctor agree that this relationship exists between them, such as when a patient makes an appointment, sees the doctor, and agrees to be treated by them. This relationship also arises when a patient is accepted for care and treatment at a hospital, even if the patient does not choose the particular doctor who endeavors to render treatment to them. In short, if a doctor accepts the responsibility of treating a patient, or a medical facility allows the patient through its doors to receive treatment, this relationship is established and the doctor, facility or other medical provider can be held liable for any medical malpractice that may occur. The doctor’s duties include a duty to provide the best possible care in accordance with standards of care applicable to the average doctor in the relevant specialty, to obtain a patient’s informed consent for any treatment or procedure, and to monitor a patient’s course of medication as needed.
It is very important to remember that not every bad result is the result of actionable medical malpractice, and doctors and hospitals are not held to the standard of the best doctor or hospital in the world in a medical malpractice lawsuit. All that is required is that medical providers render care and treatment commensurate with standards of care applicable to the average doctor, and that they exercise good judgment in accordance with what the average doctor would be expected to do in a particular circumstance. Indeed, this is all that is required under New York law, and juries in medical malpractice cases are instructed to decide medical malpractice lawsuits in accordance with these standards. If a jury finds that a doctor acted in accordance with standards of care applicable to the average doctor – which may have fallen short of those that would be expected of the best doctor around – or that the doctor, when presented with several options, made a judgment call that was also commensurate with the standard of care applicable to the average, though not the best, doctor, he or she will not be held liable for medical malpractice.
A business entity like a hospital or practice group may be liable for the negligence of the medical professionals whom it employs. This is known as vicarious liability, and the medical malpractice attorneys at our Bronx firm can advise you on whether this theory may apply to your situation. For example, where medical malpractice occurs at a hospital and the doctor who committed the malpractice was an employee of the hospital, the hospital itself is responsible for the negligence of the doctor (its employee) pursuant to the doctrine of respondeat superior, a legal doctrine that provides that any employer is liable for the negligent acts of its employee. Vicarious liability also arises where a patient is a “service patient” of a hospital (meaning that he or she seeks treatment at the hospital generally, not through a specific doctor who may have privileges to work at that hospital without being an actual employee of the hospital), or where a patient seeks treatment from a practice group and is assigned a physician by the administrators at the practice group.
In order to prevail in a lawsuit alleging medical malpractice, a plaintiff must have suffered a measurable injury – whether it be in the form of lost wages, loss of future earnings potential, medical bills, or pain and suffering – that they can proximately link to an alleged act or omission by a medical provider. Also, a plaintiff has a time limit to file suit, known as the statute of limitations. In New York, in most cases, the statute of limitations begins to run on the date of the injury. However, in some cases, the statute of limitations can be extended such that the time limitations begin to run at the end of the course of treatment that allegedly caused the injury; this “statutory toll” is known as the “continuous treatment doctrine”, and requires proof that the patient was treating with the same doctor, or at the same facility, for the very same condition throughout the period of continuous treatment. In a non-fatal medical malpractice claim involving a private physician, hospital or other medical provider, the plaintiff generally has two and a half years from the date of the malpratice, or the end of the “continuous treatment”, to file suit. If medical malpractice results in wrongful death, the statute of limitations is generally two years from the date of death. If medical malpratice is caused by a state or city-owned hospital (such as by any of the hospitals operated by the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, e.g., Lincoln Hospital), the statute of limitations is one year and ninety days, with a ninety-day notice of claim requirement. If the hospital is owned and operated by the Federal Government of the United States (e.g., a United States Veterans Administration hospital), the claim is brought under the Federal Tort Claims Act and the patient generally has two years within which to file a claim for medical malpractice in federal court.
Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit generally involves filing a complaint, which identifies the parties, provides a statement of facts, states one or more causes of action against the defendant(s), and makes a demand for damages. If we accept your case, our Bronx medical malpractice attorneys will draft your complaint properly, serve all of the defendants and file your claims with the court. The plaintiff must arrange to have the defendant(s) served with a summons and a copy of the complaint in order to obtain “jurisdiction” over them, meaning that they can be required to appear in court and defend themselves against your medical malpractice lawsuit. If the defendant is a municipal employee or municipal hospital, we will prepare and file your notice of claim with the proper agency to ensure that your claims are preserved. If the defendant is a Federal hospital or medical provider, we will ensure that the strictures of the Federal Tort Claims Act are complied with so that your claims are properly preserved.
In addition to these documents, New York requires plaintiffs alleging medical malpractice to file a “certificate of merit.” This document states that the plaintiff has consulted with a medical professional licensed in New York about their claims, that this medical professional is knowledgeable about the medical questions involved in the case, and that they have reviewed the claims and found them to be reasonable. Ideally, a plaintiff files the certificate of merit at the same time as the complaint, but they may file it as late as 90 days after the complaint and summons are served on the defendant. Our firm maintains a broad network of expert physicians in a multitude of specialties to ensure that we can obtain the proper opinions promptly so that your claims are brought in a timely and proper manner and are backed by the proper expert opinions to give you the best possible chance of success in your medical malpractice lawsuit.
Our Medical Malpractice Lawyers in the Bronx Are Here to Help
Our team of knowledgeable and experienced medical malpractice attorneys have received the recognition of their peers as being at the top of their field, and have won millions for clients who have been harmed by medical malpractice all across New York City. Our clients have direct access to the attorneys handling their cases—we will never leave your case to support staff, and we make ourselves available to you 24/7 if you have questions about your case. We always retain top-tier medical experts, spending our own money on your behalf to do so, to ensure that your case is presented properly and effectively. We represent people in the Bronx, Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and throughout the New York City region, including in Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester Counties. An initial consultation with a member of our team is completely free, always confidential. We will even purchase your medical records for you, in most cases, to perform a completely free case evaluation. Even if we ultimately decline to take your case after an investigation, no matter how much it costs, you do not owe us a dime for these preliminary investigation fees (whether spent on experts, medical records, or otherwise). Contact us online or at (718) 354-8000 today to make an appointment to discuss a misdiagnosis or another incident of medical negligence and malpractice. Time is of the essence, and we are standing by today to lend a hand if you have been injured.