Proving your medical malpractice case can be extremely difficult, if not impossible, without the help of an experienced attorney.
At Simonson Goodman Platzer PC, our experienced New York medical malpractice lawyers can help you determine if you have grounds for a case and, if so, will begin immediately investigating your situation and working with medical experts to demonstrate how a medical provider deviated from the standard of care and what effect this has had on your life.
In order to prove that there was a deviation or departure from the accepted standard of care, the patient must first establish the existence of a specific standard of care to be applied to the particular circumstance. Next, the patient must prove that the standard was violated.
The patient, who is called the plaintiff, has the burden under the law to prove, most often by expert testimony, the standard and the departure from the standard. It is only after proving a deviation from the standard that the patient can then attempt to prove that an injury stemmed from the proven departure.
More on Medical Malpractice Laws
The law requires expert testimony linking any departure from the standard of care to the patient’s particular injury. For example, if the claim is that during gallbladder surgery the surgeon departed from the accepted standard of care by cutting the bile duct, resulting in a long period of sickness and major reconstructive surgery, the expert must, with reasonable certainty, give the opinion that the cutting of the duct was a substantial factor in causing the resultant problems.
In the law, this is called the “but for” standard—but for the cutting of the bile duct, the sickness and reconstructive surgery would not occur.
Over time, the courts began to realize that it might be difficult in some cases for the patient to prove “but for,” and that doctors might then escape the results of their negligence. Because of this concern, the courts began to look at an increased risk scenario as an avenue for the patient to recover damages.
An illustration of this scenario is a failure to timely diagnose cancer. Suppose the plaintiff develops breast cancer, a development which surely cannot be considered a doctor’s fault. But further suppose that, because of negligence, the cancer went undiagnosed for several months and spread, putting the patient’s life in jeopardy.
The court addressed such circumstances and determined that the patient (the plaintiff) should be allowed to argue that the spread of cancer was caused by the delayed diagnosis and, therefore, delayed treatment (or lack of treatment). In such cases, the plaintiff may attempt to demonstrate that the delayed diagnosis increased the risk of cancer spread or recurrence and that this increased risk was a significant factor in the patient’s current condition.
The New York medical malpractice lawyers at Simonson Goodman Platzer PC have been representing victims of medical malpractice for decades. Our firm has recovered more than 200 million dollars for our clients, proving successful in securing compensation in 98% of the cases handled.
One of our partners, Attorney Paul Simonson, has been named Lawyer of the Year for Plantiffs Medical Malpractice. Paul, along with our other attorneys, has consistently been recognized for his legal practice, including being named as a “Best Lawyer in America” and selected for inclusion in the Super Lawyers® list in the field of medical malpractice.
Medical malpractice is a legal term used to describe a situation in which a healthcare provider, such as a doctor, nurse, surgeon, or hospital, fails to provide an appropriate standard of care to a patient, resulting in harm or injury to the patient. This negligence or breach of duty can occur in various healthcare settings, including hospitals, clinics, and private practices.
Key elements of medical malpractice typically include:
- Duty of Care: Healthcare providers have a legal and ethical responsibility to provide their patients with a standard of care that is in line with accepted medical practices.
- Breach of Duty: A breach occurs when the healthcare provider deviates from the expected standard of care. This can involve errors in diagnosis, treatment, surgical procedures, prescription medication, or a failure to provide adequate information to the patient.
- Causation: The breach of duty must be shown to be the cause of the patient's injury or harm. It must be demonstrated that the healthcare provider's actions or negligence directly led to the negative outcome.
- Damages: In order to pursue a medical malpractice claim, the patient must have suffered some form of harm or injury. These damages can include physical, emotional, and financial losses, such as pain and suffering, medical bills, loss of income, and long-term disability.
Medical providers are highly trained professionals with years of schooling and training. However, that does not mean that they are always able to achieve the outcomes patients want.
A poor outcome after a medical procedure or treatment does not necessarily mean that the patient is a victim of malpractice. Instead, medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or another health care provider fails to provide services that meet the accepted standard of care.
A medical professional may fail to provide standard care when he or she fails to do something that another medical professional could reasonably have been expected to do or, conversely, when the provider does something that is prohibited by the standard of care.
In order for a patient to recover monetary damages for substandard care, the patient must prove that the negligent care was a substantial factor in causing an injury, which includes a period of pain and suffering, or long-term or permanent disability. In the event that a person dies as a result of receiving substandard medical care, the surviving family members/representative must prove that the negligent care was the proximate cause of death.
Here are some key contributing factors:
- Negligence: Negligence is the most common cause of medical malpractice. It occurs when a healthcare provider fails to provide the standard of care that a reasonable professional would under similar circumstances. Negligence can involve diagnostic errors, surgical mistakes, prescription errors, and more.
- Miscommunication: Inadequate communication between healthcare providers can lead to errors. This includes poor handoffs during shift changes, misinterpretation of patient records, and lack of communication between different specialists involved in a patient's care.
- Inadequate training or supervision: Healthcare providers who lack proper training or experience may make mistakes. Additionally, lack of supervision can result in errors, especially among less-experienced staff.
- Fatigue and burnout: Overworked and exhausted healthcare professionals are more prone to making errors. Long hours, high patient loads, and stress can all contribute to fatigue and burnout, which impair decision-making and attentiveness.
- Equipment failure: Malfunctioning or poorly maintained medical equipment can lead to diagnostic errors or treatment complications. Providers are responsible for ensuring that their equipment is in proper working order.
- Inadequate documentation: Proper record-keeping is crucial for patient care. Incomplete or inaccurate medical records can lead to misdiagnoses, improper treatment, and inadequate follow-up.
- Time constraints: Physicians and other healthcare providers are often under pressure to see a certain number of patients within a limited time frame. This can result in rushed evaluations, misdiagnoses, and suboptimal care.
- Inadequate informed consent: Patients have the right to be informed about the risks and benefits of medical procedures and treatments. When healthcare providers fail to obtain informed consent or adequately inform patients about the potential risks, it can lead to legal issues.
- Systemic issues: Problems within healthcare systems, such as understaffing, resource shortages, and lack of standardized protocols, can contribute to medical malpractice. These issues can affect the overall quality of care and patient safety.
- Lack of teamwork: Effective teamwork and collaboration among healthcare providers are essential to patient safety. Poor communication and cooperation among team members can lead to errors.
- Language and cultural barriers: Misunderstandings between healthcare providers and patients due to language or cultural differences can result in misdiagnoses or inadequate treatment.
- Failure to follow guidelines and protocols: Medical professionals are often expected to adhere to established clinical guidelines and best practices. Failure to do so can be considered a breach of the standard of care.
Medical malpractice cases can encompass a wide range of situations in which healthcare providers fail to meet the standard of care, resulting in harm or injury to patients.
Some common types of medical malpractice cases include:
- Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis: This occurs when a healthcare provider fails to correctly diagnose a medical condition or there is a significant delay in diagnosing a condition, leading to incorrect treatment or missed opportunities for timely intervention. Common examples include misdiagnosis of cancer, heart disease, or infections.
- Surgical Errors: Surgical malpractice can involve a variety of mistakes made during surgery, such as operating on the wrong body part, leaving surgical instruments or sponges inside the patient, damaging adjacent structures, or improper suturing. Any of these errors can lead to serious complications.
- Medication Errors: Medication-related malpractice can include prescribing the wrong medication, administering the incorrect dosage, overlooking drug allergies or interactions, or failing to provide clear medication instructions to the patient. These errors can lead to adverse reactions and worsen a patient's condition.
- Anesthesia Errors: Anesthesia-related mistakes can include administering too much or too little anesthesia, failing to monitor a patient's vital signs during surgery, or not considering the patient's medical history and allergies. Anesthesia errors can result in complications, including injury or death.
- Birth Injuries: These cases involve injuries to the baby or mother during childbirth due to medical negligence. Common examples include the misuse of forceps or vacuum extractors, delays in performing a cesarean section, or failure to monitor fetal distress.
- Informed Consent Violations: Failure to obtain proper informed consent occurs when healthcare providers do not adequately inform patients about the risks, benefits, and alternatives of a medical procedure or treatment. This can result in legal claims if patients undergo procedures without full understanding.
- Emergency Room Errors: Errors in the emergency room can involve misdiagnosis, delays in treatment, or inadequate patient triage, which can have serious consequences for patients who require immediate care.
- Lack of Follow-Up Care: Healthcare providers have a responsibility to monitor patients' conditions and ensure they receive appropriate follow-up care. Neglecting this duty can result in complications or deterioration of the patient's health.
- Nursing Home Neglect and Abuse: Negligent or abusive care in nursing homes can lead to a range of issues, including physical injuries, pressure ulcers, infections, malnutrition, dehydration, and emotional distress among elderly residents.
- Anesthesiologist Malpractice: Anesthesiologists are responsible for administering anesthesia and monitoring patients during surgery. Malpractice in this field can result from errors in dosage, failure to monitor vital signs, or inadequate pre-operative evaluations.
- Dental Malpractice: Dentists can be subject to malpractice claims for errors during dental procedures, such as extractions, root canals, or dental surgery, as well as misdiagnoses of oral conditions.
- Psychiatric Malpractice: Mental health professionals can be sued for malpractice if they provide inadequate or negligent treatment, misdiagnose patients, or fail to properly assess and manage suicidal or violent patients.
At Simonson Goodman Platzer PC, we have a long history of success in representing victims of all types of medical negligence.
Patients may recover monetary damages for both physical and emotional losses in medical malpractice cases. Importantly, New Jersey courts have recognized that “loss of enjoyment of life,” sometimes called hedonic damages, should be compensated in appropriate cases. The courts have said that the loss of pleasure and enjoyment is a loss that should be compensated, and compensation should be granted to those who, because they are in a comatose state, are “…unable to appreciate one’s own restrictions.”
In addition to pain and suffering, emotional distress, and hedonic damages, suits are permitted for damages that occur as the result of “wrongful” death. In order to bring such a suit, an executor or administrator must be appointed by the court.
Though every case is different, if you are the victim of medical malpractice, you may be entitled to compensation for the following damages:
- Medical costs associated with additional treatments, including revision surgeries
- Other medical expenses, such as rehabilitative treatment
- Medications, medical devices, and medical equipment (wheelchairs, etc.)
- In-home care costs and costs associated with home modifications
- Lost wages, including lost future earnings
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering, including emotional distress and trauma
- Wrongful death damages
According to a recent poll, almost three-quarters of Americans are so deferential to their doctors that they never get a second opinion when surgery or other treatment is recommended. This is a startling figure when you consider the proliferation of websites that consumers access before making a decision to buy something or eat somewhere. The problem is particularly acute among older patients who tend to be hesitant to question authority and were brought up to believe that the doctor is always right.
A second opinion is not only common sense – it is a right, a right that most insurers will pay for. Insurers are well aware that errors in diagnosis, or outright misdiagnosis, are all too common. They are also aware that doctors are rewarded financially for doing procedures rather than prescribing medicine.
When your doctor recommends surgery or other procedures, take a minute to think. If you have doubts, express them. If you have questions, ask them. If it’s not an emergency, go home and talk to family members. Go online and do some research. Be skeptical-doctors are not infallible. After all, the life you save may be your own.
Time Limits for Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim
Each state has its own statute of limitations, meaning time in which you may file a claim, for medical malpractice.
The general rule applied to adults in New York is that a suit for medical malpractice that involves injuries (rather than death) must be brought within two and a half years of the act of malpractice or within two and a half years after the plaintiff reasonably knows that he/she has suffered an injury as a result of treatment and knows or has reason to know that the treatment was negligent.
The statute of limitations is different for minors who sustained birth injuries or injuries caused by medical malpractice or negligence before they reached the age of 18. In New York, the statute of limitations is still two and a half years, but the clock does not start ticking until the minor’s 18th birthday. Essentially, this means that a person who was injured as a result of medical negligence as a child has until they are 20 years and 6 months old to bring a claim.
In cases involving death, the suit must be started within two years after the date of death. Contact one of our medical malpractice lawyers for more information.
In some cases, depending on the entity in question and whether there are “public employees” in question, a notice of claim must be filed within 90 days of the act of negligence. Contact our attorneys to learn more.
How to Find a Medical Malpractice Attorney
Medical malpractice attorneys can assist individuals who have been injured due to medical negligence. These lawyers help patients by obtaining compensation for the damages and injuries they have sustained. They do this by examining the case closely and determining if there was a deviation or departure from the accepted standard of care, which caused harm to their client. However, it is important to make sure that you have hired the right medical malpractice lawyer for your particular case.
Here are a few steps you can take to find a medical malpractice attorney near you who can properly handle your medical malpractice lawsuit:
- Research: Start by researching medical malpractice attorneys that have experience in handling similar cases to yours. Check their websites, reviews, and any other information you can find about the attorney’s track record of success in medical malpractice lawsuits.
- Get Referrals: You can also get referrals from family members or friends who may have had a successful outcome with a particular attorney or law firm. If you don’t know anyone who has used an attorney for a medical malpractice lawsuit, consider contacting your local bar association for recommendations on experienced lawyers in your area who specialize in this field.
- Interview Attorneys: Once you have identified some potential lawyers to represent you, schedule an initial consultation where you can get to know them better and ask questions about their background and experience related to medical malpractice cases like yours. During this meeting it is important that the lawyer provides detailed answers and explains what results they expect could be obtained if they take the case on board - be wary of those promising guaranteed outcomes as no result is ever guaranteed until all evidence has been heard during court proceedings!
- Check Credentials & Experience: After conducting interviews with potential candidates, check each one's credentials including certifications from the state bar, any awards or accolades they have received, as well as their malpractice insurance. Additionally, make sure the attorney can provide references from past clients, which should help you get an idea of his or her success rate in medical malpractice cases.
- Evaluate Fees: Finally, it is important to evaluate the fees you will be expected to pay for services rendered. You should also ask about any other costs and expenses that might arise during the course of representation, such as expert witness fees or filing costs.
At Simonson Goodman Platzer PC, we understand how difficult it can be to go up against large hospitals and their teams of attorneys. That is why we are committed to helping victims of medical malpractice in New York. Our experienced attorneys and support staff have a proven track record of success in obtaining compensation for our clients, so if you feel that you or someone close to you has been the victim of medical negligence, contact us today. We offer free consultations and there is no fee unless we win your case.