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Court Distinguishes Negligence from Medical Malpractice in New York Case

Home health care aides are expected to ensure that the people they assist are safe an well taken care of; unfortunately, however, they do not always possess the skills and training needed to do so, and falls and other harmful incidents often occur in their presence. While companies and individuals that provide home health care may offer medical services, merely because their negligence causes an injury does not mean that they will be liable for medical malpractice, as discussed in a recent New York case. If you were hurt in a fall, it is prudent to confer with a Syracuse personal injury attorney about your rights.

Facts and Procedure of the Case

It is reported that the plaintiff, the decedent’s son, entered into a contract with the defendant home health care company (Company) in June 2017 for home healthcare services for the decedent. The plaintiff, along with his girlfriend, left the decedent in the care of the defendant home health aide (Aide) on June 11, 2017. Upon their return 15 minutes later, they found the decedent on the floor near her bed.

Allegedly the Aide, who was present until the end of her shift, did not file an incident report, as required by the Company, and did not contact the Company. The plaintiff initiated legal action, alleging negligence by the Company in providing care and supervision and asserting claims of negligent hiring, training, and supervision. The defendant moved for summary judgment.

Medical Malpractice Versus Ordinary Negligence

The court first noted the plaintiff’s failure to oppose the motion regarding the cause of action for negligent hiring, training, and supervision. The court, therefore, granted summary judgment on this claim.

The central issue that remained was whether the case involved medical malpractice or ordinary negligence. The court distinguished between the two, emphasizing that medical malpractice involves specialized skills, while ordinary negligence pertains to actions within the common everyday experience of a layperson. The court found the plaintiff’s claim to be grounded in ordinary negligence, asserting that the Aide’s alleged negligence was not related to medical treatment but rather involved the failure to move and supervise the decedent properly.

The court further held that the plaintiff failed to establish a prima facie case of negligence against the Company, emphasizing the lack of evidence supporting the cause of the decedent’s fall. Citing precedent, the court explained that a defendant may be entitled to summary judgment if the plaintiff cannot identify the cause of an alleged fall without resorting to speculation. The court drew parallels to a similar case, highlighting the plaintiff’s heavy reliance on speculation.

The plaintiff, who did not witness the fall, failed to inquire into its cause, and neither the Aide nor the plaintiff filed an incident report. The court concluded that the plaintiff’s claims were based on pure speculation and lacked any evidence of negligence. Thus, the court dismissed the case against the Company.

Talk to an Experienced Syracuse Personal Injury Attorney

Slip and fall accidents can cause devastating and even fatal injuries, and in many instances, they are the direct result of negligence. If you were hurt in a fall caused by another party’s carelessness, it is wise to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. The experienced Syracuse personal injury attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can inform you of your rights and aid you in seeking the best legal result available under the facts of your case. You can reach us via our form online or by calling us at 833-247-8427 to set up a conference.

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