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Court Explains Burdens of Proof in New York Medical Malpractice Cases

In the context of medical care, a treatment that is intended to help a patient will sometimes cause them harm instead. In such instances, the patient may be able to seek compensation through medical malpractice claims against the provider responsible for their injuries. Merely demonstrating that they sustained damages is insufficient to establish liability, however. Instead, they must prove that the defendant violated the standard of care and that by doing so, they caused their losses. If a plaintiff cannot meet this evidentiary burden, their claim will be dismissed, as illustrated recently in a ruling issued in a New York medical malpractice case. If you suffered harm due to incompetent medical care, you could be owed damages, and it is prudent to meet with a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer to discuss your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Assertions

It is reported that the plaintiff presented to the defendant with complaints of blood in his urine. The defendant inserted a Foley catheter in the plaintiff, which reportedly caused him to suffer significant pain, incontinence, and injuries to his bladder. The plaintiff subsequently filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant, alleging their negligent insertion of the catheter caused him to suffer harm. The defendant moved for dismissal of the plaintiff’s action via summary judgment. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion, and the plaintiff appealed.

Burdens of Proof in New York Medical Malpractice Cases

Under New York law, to establish the liability of a doctor for medical malpractice, a plaintiff must prove that the doctor departed from the standards of practice accepted in the community and that the deviation proximately caused the plaintiff to suffer injuries. Thus, a defendant moving for summary judgment must prove, prima facie, that there either was no deviation from the applicable standard of care or that any deviation that occurred did not injure the plaintiff.

If a defendant meets its burden as to both elements of a medical malpractice claim, the plaintiff then bears the burden of demonstrating that a triable issue of fact exists as to both the departure and causation elements. While conflicting expert reports can raise issues of credibility that should only be resolved by a jury, expert reports that are speculative, conclusory, or lack evidentiary support are not adequate to demonstrate that a triable issue of fact exists. For a plaintiff’s expert opinion to not be deemed speculative, it must address the assertions specifically made by the defendant’s experts and set forth an explanation of their reasoning.

In the subject case, the appellate court stated that it was undisputed that the defendant met his burden of proof. In response, though, the plaintiff’s expert merely set forth conclusory assertions. Thus, the appellate court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Talk to a Trusted Syracuse Medical Malpractice Lawyer

People expect that when they visit a doctor’s office, they will receive competent care, but sadly, many patients suffer harm due to medical errors. If you were the victim of medical malpractice, you might be owed damages, and you should talk to an attorney about your potential claims. The trusted Syracuse medical malpractice lawyers of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can assess the circumstances surrounding your harm and determine what damages you may be owed.  You can reach us via our form online or by calling us at 833-200-2000 to set up a conference.


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