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New York Court Discusses Proving Liability in Birth Injury Cases

Birth injuries can cause lifelong impairments that not only require costly care but are also emotionally devastating. Many birth injuries are caused by incompetent medical care, and parents of children who suffer harm at birth are often able to recover compensation for their child’s losses. The mere occurrence of an injury is not sufficient to impose liability, however. Instead, as demonstrated in a recent New York opinion, a plaintiff must produce competent evidence of medical negligence to establish a defendant’s fault. If your child was injured at birth, you might be able to pursue a claim for damages, and it is advisable to confer with a Syracuse birth injury lawyer to determine your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Claims

It is reported that the plaintiff, who was expecting her first child, was treated by the defendant midwife at the defendant hospital throughout her pregnancy. She ultimately gave birth to her son at another hospital. The infant was born prematurely and suffered numerous injuries. Thus, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendants, alleging their negligence brought about her child’s harm. The defendants moved to have the plaintiff’s claims dismissed via via summary judgment, and the court granted the motion. The plaintiff then appealed.

Proving Liability in Birth Injury Cases

In New York, medical malpractice cases require proof that the defendant healthcare provider departed from the accepted standard of care and that such departure was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s harm. As such, a defendant who moves for summary judgment must establish the lack of a departure from the accepted and good practice of medicine or show that the plaintiff was not harmed by any such departure.

Mere blanket assertions that a defendant did not violate the standard of care without any factual references to the alleged injury are not sufficient to demonstrate that a cause of action is meritless. If a defendant makes a prima facie showing that it is entitled to summary judgment, however, the burden shifts to the plaintiff to prove that a triable issue of fact exists, making a trial necessary. Summary judgment is not appropriate, therefore, in cases in which the parties produce conflicting expert reports. General allegations of malpractice that are not supported by competent evidence, though, are insufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment. Instead, the plaintiff’s expert report must address each contention in the defendant’s expert report.

In the subject case, the court noted that the defendants set forth a prima facie case, demonstrating they were entitled to summary judgment. In turn, however, the plaintiff’s expert report failed to demonstrate a triable issue of fact in that it failed to refute the defendant’s expert’s assertions. Thus, the ruling was affirmed.

Meet with an Experienced Syracuse Attorney

When children suffer preventable harm because of careless doctors, it frequently causes anguish and frustration, as well as significant economic losses. If your child suffered a birth injury, you should meet with an attorney to evaluate your possible claims. The skilled attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers are mindful of the catastrophic damages negligent medical care can cause, and we take pride in helping families fight for justice. You can contact us via our form online or by calling 315-479-9000 to set up a conference.

 

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