Unfortunately, medical malpractice remains a serious public safety problem in New York and throughout the entire country. Shockingly, a 2018 study found that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States.
That being said, an adverse medical outcome is not necessarily malpractice under New York state law. A doctor, nurse, or health care provider is only liable for medical malpractice when certain statutory elements are met.
You may be wondering: How can I determine if I have a valid medical malpractice lawsuit. In this article, our Albany medical malpractice attorneys highlight four questions that you should ask yourself to help determine if you have a valid medical malpractice case in New York.
Want To Know If You Have A Medical Malpractice Case? Ask Yourself These Four Questions
- Was a Valid Doctor-Patient Relationship Established?
Under New York law, there is no action for medical malpractice if there was no doctor-patient relationship. Essentially, this means that you (or your loved one) hired the doctor and the medical professional agreed to be hired. If you overheard a doctor give (poor) medical advice at a restaurant, that generally cannot serve as the basis of a medical malpractice lawsuit. There must be a legal doctor-patient relationship for a claim.
- Was Actual Harm Suffered By You or a Family Member?
A doctor, nurse, or a hospital can do a very poor job and not be liable for medical malpractice. The reason is that a medical malpractice lawsuit requires actual harm. If a doctor was going to do something grossly negligent but was stopped before anything bad happened, there is generally no medical malpractice claim. The patient must have suffered actual physical harm—usually an injury, a worsening illness, medical complications, or death—to file a medical malpractice claim.
- Did a Doctor or Health Provider Cause Harm Through Negligence?
An adverse medical outcome is not, by itself, medical malpractice. To bring a successful medical malpractice claim in New York, a patient must prove that they suffered harm because their physician/health provider acted in a negligent manner. This means that the doctor failed to provide care with reasonable skill, prudence, and carefulness.
Tip: This is the element that causes the most confusion. It is often not easy for patients to know if a doctor/medical provider was negligent. You do not have to answer this question on your own. An experienced New York medical malpractice attorney can review your case and explain your rights.
- Do You Still Have Time to File a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Finally, it is important to note that our state has a very strict statute of limitations for medical negligence lawsuits. Under New York law (NY CPLR § 214-a), an “action for medical, dental or podiatric malpractice [must] be commenced within two years and six months.” When a patient waits too long to take action, they could miss their chance to get justice and compensation. If you have any questions about the statute of limitations and your medical malpractice case, contact an attorney for help.
Medical Malpractice Law Is Complicated—Get Answers During A Free Case Evaluation
Medical malpractice is one of the most complex, highly technical areas of law. It is normal to be unsure if you have a valid malpractice claim. Often, the opinion of a qualified medical expert will be required to bring clarity. Do not go through this alone: request a free, confidential, and no obligation case evaluation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. At Powers & Santola, LLP, we offer comprehensive case evaluations to patients and their families. Among other things, our legal team will:
- Listen to your story and answer your questions;
- Explain your rights and the medical malpractice claims process;
- Describe the requisite standard of care; and
- Make sure you know whether or not you have a case.
Get Help From A Medical Malpractice Lawyer In New York
At Powers & Santola, LLP, our New York medical malpractice lawyers have the specialized skills and expertise that you can rely on to protect your legal rights. If you have questions or concerns about how you determine if you have a valid medical malpractice case, we are here to get you answers. Our lawyers are more than happy to review and evaluate your case. Contact our team right away for free legal guidance. With offices located in Albany, Rochester, and Syracuse, we represent medical malpractice victims throughout New York, including in Schenectady, Saratoga Springs, and Troy.