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New York Court Discusses Notice Requirements in Medical Malpractice Claims Against the State

Even if patients suffer devastating losses as a result of incompetent medical care, they may be denied the recovery of compensation if they do not abide by their duties under the law. For example, if a patient suffers harm in a facility that is considered a State actor, the patient must provide the State with notice of his or her claims within a certain time frame, or they may waive the right to pursue claims against the State. In some instances, though, a court may grant an exception to the notice requirement, as demonstrated in a recent New York birth injury case. If your child suffered harm during delivery, it is wise to confer with a skillful Syracuse birth injury lawyer to discuss your legal rights and duties.

Factual and Procedural History

Allegedly, the plaintiff-mother visited the defendant hospital, which is owned by the State, to give birth. During the delivery of the plaintiff-mother’s son, the doctors employed by the defendant used forceps, which caused injuries that ultimately led to the infant’s death. The plaintiff-mother and plaintiff-father then filed a motion for leave seeking permission to file a late claim, pursuant to the Court of Claims Act, which dictates the manner in which claims against the State must proceed. The trial court denied the motion, after which the plaintiffs appealed. On review, the appellate court reversed the trial court ruling, granting the plaintiffs leave.

Notice Requirements Under the Court of Claims Act

Pursuant to the Court of Claims Act, a court has the discretion to permit a plaintiff to file a late claim. In determining whether to grant such permission, the court will weigh several factors, including whether the State had notice of the key facts of the claim, whether the claim seems to have merit, whether the Plaintiff has any other remedy, and whether the State had a reasonable opportunity to investigate the circumstances out of which the claim arose. The court will also look at whether the failure to serve a timely notice of the claim upon the State caused substantial prejudice, and whether the plaintiff’s delay in filing the claim was reasonable. There is no one factor that is controlling, and the absence or presence of any factor is not determinative.

Here, the court found that the plaintiffs did not set forth a valid excuse for failing to provide notice of their claim in a timely manner. The court stated, however, that the plaintiffs’ delay was not substantial and did not cause prejudice to the defendant. Additionally, the plaintiffs demonstrated that the defendant had actual notice of the underlying facts of the claim and that their claim appeared to have merit. As such, the appellate court reversed the trial court ruling.

Speak to an Assertive Attorney in Syracuse

When a child suffers an injury at birth, it can be devastating for both the parents and the child, and the care providers responsible for the child’s harm should be held accountable. If your infant suffered an injury during delivery, the assertive Syracuse birth injury attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers could assist you in pursuing any damages you and your child may be owed. We can be contacted at 315-479-9000 or via the form online to schedule a meeting.

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