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New York Ruling Shows the Impact of a Party’s Death in a Medical Malpractice Case

Under New York law, not only can a person harmed by an incompetent healthcare provider seek compensation in a medical malpractice lawsuit, but their spouse can pursue claims against the provider as well. If either party dies before the matter is resolved, however, the surviving party must move to substitute an appropriate representative. If they fail to do so, their right to recover damages on behalf of the deceased party may be lost, as shown in a recent ruling issued by a New York court. If you suffered injuries due to the carelessness of your physician, you might be owed compensation, and it is wise to speak to a Syracuse medical malpractice attorney about your options.

Background of the Case

It is reported that in 2014 the plaintiff, along with her husband, initiated a malpractice lawsuit against several defendants. The first and second causes of action, medical malpractice and lack of informed consent, were asserted by the plaintiff, while the third cause of action was a derivative claim asserted by the husband. In May 2016, the husband passed away. In January 2018, the plaintiff became the administrator of the husband’s estate. In January 2020, two of the defendants moved to dismiss the complaint against them under CPLR 1021. The trial court granted both motions, and the plaintiff appealed.

The Impact of a Party’s Death on a Medical Malpractice Case

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court’s ruling as to the derivative claim but reversed as to the plaintiff’s claims. The court explained that CPLR 1021 provides that if the need for substitution arises before a final judgment and the substitution is not carried out within a reasonable timeframe, the claims asserted by the party for whom substitution should have occurred can be dismissed.

In the subject case, the court found that CPLR 1021 did not provide grounds for dismissing the plaintiff’s first and second causes of action dismissed. Specifically, the court explained that these claims were filed by the plaintiff in her individual capacity, and therefore, she was not the party for whom substitution was necessary. As such, the court reversed the trial court’s ruling to the extent that it dismissed the plaintiff’s medical malpractice and informed consent claims. The court affirmed the ruling as to the derivative claim, however.

Meet with a Skilled Syracuse Medical Malpractice Lawyer

The consequences of incompetent medical care not only affect patients but often impact their loved ones as well. If you or a family member were the victim of medical malpractice, it is prudent to meet with an attorney to assess what claims you may be able to pursue. The skilled Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers have ample experience demonstrating that negligent providers should be held accountable for the harm they cause, and if you hire us, we can inform you of your rights and aid you in the pursuit of justice. You can reach us through our form online or by calling us at 315-479-9000 to set up a meeting.

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