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Articles Posted in Wrongful Death

In New York medical malpractice cases, the plaintiff typically must name the parties allegedly responsible for their losses and must assert all of their claims against them within the timeframe dictated by the applicable statute of limitations. There are exceptions to the rule, though, such as when the identity of the healthcare provider that caused the plaintiff’s harm is unknown. In such instances, the relation-back doctrine, which allows for an amendment of a complaint to identify the proper defendant, may apply. In a recent opinion, a court explained the relation-back doctrine in the context of medical malpractice cases, ultimately determining that the trial court properly found that the doctrine applied. If you suffered harm by the carelessness of a physician, it is smart to meet with a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer to evaluate what claims you may be able to assert.

Factual and Procedural Setting

It is alleged that the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuit contending that the decedent, who had undergone treatment for lung cancer, experienced a lack of timely diagnosis and treatment, resulting in metastasis. The initial complaint, filed on January 31, 2020, named “John Doe, M.D.” as the attending physician in May 2016. The plaintiff later moved to substitute the defendant for “John Doe, M.D.,” the plaintiff invoked the relation-back doctrine. The trial court granted the plaintiff’s motion, allowing for the substation of the defendant for the previously named “John Doe, M.D.” The defendant then appealed.

The Relation-Back Doctrine in New York Medical Malpractice Cases

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. In doing so, it explained that the plaintiff invoked the relation-back doctrine, which allows the addition of a party after the statute of limitations has lapsed. The court explained that for the doctrine to apply, three conditions must be met: the claim must arise from the same occurrence, conduct, or transaction; there must be unity of interest between the original party and the party to be substituted; and the substituted party must have knowledge or awareness that plaintiff would have asserted claims against them as well, but for the plaintiff’s mistake in identity.

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In medical malpractice cases, the parties will often disagree regarding the circumstances surrounding the plaintiff’s harm. Factual disputes typically must be resolved via trial. In other words, if a party asks the court to grant judgment in their favor as a matter of law based on a disputed fact, it is likely that their request will be denied, as shown in a recent New York ruling. If you or someone you love suffered losses due to inadequate medical care, you may be able to recover damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit, and you should speak to a Syracuse medical malpractice attorney.

Factual and Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the decedent called 911 due to suspected stroke symptoms and was transported to the defendant hospital. During the ambulance ride, EMS providers noted a worsening of his symptoms and issued a stroke alert to the defendant hospital. Upon arrival at the hospital, the decedent underwent a CT scan and was assessed by the defendant emergency room physician and the defendant neurologist. Both doctors found that his symptoms did not warrant the administration of a medication used to dissolve clots.

Allegedly, the decedent’s condition deteriorated, and he was eventually admitted to the hospital. Tragically, he was found unresponsive early the next morning and was diagnosed with a pontine stroke, leading to locked-in syndrome. Brennan passed away three years later. The plaintiff filed a lawsuit against the defendant asserting medical malpractice and wrongful death claims, arguing that the defendant’s failure to administer the drug to dissolve clots led to the decedent’s death. The defendants moved for summary judgment, which the court granted. The plaintiff appealed. Continue Reading ›

Pursuant to New York law, parties pursuing wrongful death claims against negligent healthcare providers must comply with the applicable statute of limitations. Generally, the courts will dismiss claims filed outside of the statutory period. There are exceptions, though, that allow for the tolling of the statute of limitations, such as when a claim relates back to a previously filed pleading. In a recent opinion issued in a wrongful death and medical malpractice case, a New York court analyzed whether the relation back doctrine applies to consolidated cases, ultimately concluding that it does. If you lost a loved one due to medical malpractice, it is in your best interest to consult a Syracuse medical malpractice attorney to discuss your potential claims.

The Procedural History of the Case

It is reported that the decedent died in October 2017. In May 2019, the plaintiffs filed a wrongful death and medical malpractice lawsuit against multiple defendants, arguing that their failure to properly interpret the decedent’s imaging studies led to his death. In January 2020, the plaintiffs filed a second medical malpractice and wrongful death case, naming a doctor that was not properly served in the first case and her company as defendants.

Allegedly, the two cases were then consolidated. The defendants in the second action then moved for dismissal of the plaintiffs’ claims on the grounds that they were filed outside of the statute of limitations. The plaintiffs opposed the motion, arguing that the relation back doctrine applied and, therefore, the claims were not barred by the statute of limitations. Continue Reading ›

Many hospitals and facilities not only provide medical care, but they also act as learning institutions for doctors in training. Thus, in many cases, a patient will be treated by a resident who is supervised by an attending physician. The duties imposed on supervised medical personal differ from those exercising independent judgment, as explained in a recent medical malpractice case decided by the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York, and in some cases, a resident may not be held liable for an injured patient’s harm. If you were injured by negligent medical care, it is advisable to speak with a dedicated Syracuse medical malpractice attorney to discuss your potential claims.

The Plaintiff’s Treatment

It is alleged that the plaintiff’s decedent underwent gallbladder removal surgery, during which his liver was lacerated. He subsequently died from bleeding complications. The plaintiffs then filed wrongful death and lack of informed consent claims against the defendant medical center, and defendant resident. As to the defendant resident, the plaintiffs alleged that he failed to test the decedent’s blood coagulation profile or to address the decedent’s coagulation issues prior to the surgery. The defendant resident filed a motion for summary judgment, which the court denied. The defendant appealed.

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Losing a loved one is a shattering experience in anyone’s life, especially when the death was untimely and unexpected. If you lost a loved one during or shortly after a medical procedure, you may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers, our skilled Syracuse wrongful death attorneys will thoroughly review your claim and determine how we can help. With years of experience, you can rest assured that we understand how to pursue the compensation you need to move on with your life.

Unfortunately, medical malpractice is more common than you may think. In fact, one Johns Hopkins study found that medical malpractice deaths are the third-leading cause of death in the nation. According to data collected by the Institute of Medicine, one of five medical errors are potentially serious or fatal. Additionally, an estimated 98,000 Americans die each year due to preventable medical errors, including 7,000 deaths caused by medication errors.

When your loved one’s death is caused by someone else’s negligence, you may be able to file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault party. New York places the responsibility of filing the wrongful death claim on the “personal representative” of the deceased person’s estate. This means family members are not allowed to file a wrongful death claim in civil court unless that family member is also the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. However, the wrongful death claim may seek damages for losses suffered by the deceased person’s heirs, beneficiaries, or devisees, as well as any losses suffered by the decedent’s estate.

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