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Medical Malpractice & Wrongful Death

Medical malpractice can be one of the causes of wrongful death. It occurs when a patient is harmed in some way by a doctor or other medical professional who has made an error in the course of care or failed to perform their duties properly. Medical malpractice can cause serious injuries to patients in hospitals, emergency rooms, and clinics across New York. Unfortunately, for many families, a single act of medical malpractice in New York can result in the death of a loved one who should have otherwise survived. When medical malpractice results in the death of a patient, surviving family members may be able to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.

What Qualifies as Medical Malpractice?

The idea of medical malpractice is unsettling; none of us like to think that a routine doctor’s visit could turn into a terrible tragedy. Most of the time, this is not the case, as doctors train for years to be able to provide the best care possible. However, doctors are only human, and if they do make a mistake that leads to injury or death, the affected family deserves to be compensated.

With that said, medical malpractice claims are not without their challenges. Often, even when competent doctors are providing treatment without error, patients may be dissatisfied with their results. Therefore, there are certain elements the person bringing the claim-the plaintiff-must prove in order to have a valid medical malpractice case:

  • The claimant must have formed a doctor-patient relationship with the doctor: The plaintiff must have sought treatment from this doctor, and the doctor must have agreed to treat the patient.
  • The doctor was negligent: The doctor must have been negligent in connection with the case, and must have violated the medical standard of care while providing treatment.
  • The doctor’s negligence is directly related to the injury: This is also known as proximate cause. Proximate cause is a legal concept that, when applied to medical malpractice, means that the doctor’s actions must be directly related in some way to the injury sustained. It asks the question, if not for this doctor’s behavior, would the injury or death still have occurred? If the answer is no, that even without the doctor’s alleged malpractice, the injury or death would still have occurred, then there is no proximate cause and it would be much more difficult to bring the case.

Types of Medical Malpractice

There are various situations that could lead to medical malpractice, ranging from mistakes during surgery to failing to properly diagnose a patient’s condition. The New York wrongful death attorneys at Block O’Toole & Murphy accept a variety of wrongful death cases, including those stemming from the following medical errors:

  • Failure to diagnose
  • Surgical errors
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Medication mistakes or improper treatment
  • Failure to inform a patient of known risks
  • Failure to follow up

Although doctors, surgeons, and medical professionals are well-educated and expected to live up to a certain standard of care, in some instances, they may fail to uphold this duty. Should this occur, and a patient dies as a result, their surviving family members can file a wrongful death claim for the medical malpractice incident.

Medical Malpractice in New York

There are a few things to remember when considering bringing a wrongful death case stemming from medical malpractice in New York:

  • The statute of limitations: The time limit within which you must bring the case is two years and six months, which is extended slightly from the typical wrongful death statute of limitations of two years.
  • No damages cap: There is no limit to the amount of damages you can receive in a medical malpractice case in New York.
  • Certificate of merit: A “certificate of merit” must be provided by your attorney to the court, stating that the attorney has reviewed the case facts with a competent medical professional, and this professional agrees that the case has merit and deserves to be heard in court.

Wrongful Death Due to Medical Error

Filing a New York wrongful death claim allows surviving family members the opportunity to recover compensation for funeral expenses and other damages incurred as a result of their loss. Although a substantial wrongful death settlement or verdict amount cannot replace a loved one, relieving the financial burden incurred as a result of an unexpected loss can help surviving family members cope. Furthermore, knowing the negligent party is being held accountable may provide a certain degree of solace. Notable results we have obtained in medical malpractice cases include:

  • $9,792,412 jury verdict for a 31-year-old man who was injured while undergoing brain surgery
  • $6,000,000 settlement on behalf of a child who developed cerebral palsy at birth after the hospital failed to perform a C-section in a timely manner
  • $4,000,000 settlement, the largest brachial plexus settlement in New York State, for an infant who has limited use of his left arm due to a brachial plexus injury during delivery
  • $2,300,000 settlement with an $18,074,933.08 payout, for an infant who had to have large colon removed due to the pediatrician’s negligence
  • $2,250,000 settlement for a 68-year-old patient who was undergoing back surgery when the surgeon’s drill pierced a bone, causing nerve damage
  • $1,950,000 recovery for a 27-year-old patient who suffered a stroke during surgery, resulting in partial paralysis
  • $1,250,000 settlement for a 42-year-old woman who was diagnosed with breast cancer 10 months after being told it was benign

If you lost a loved one due to medical negligence and are interested in pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit in New York, fill out our contact form or call us at 212-736-5300 to speak with our experienced attorneys today.


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