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Court Explains Establishing Causation in New York Medical Malpractice Cases

In New York medical malpractice cases, a plaintiff must prove not only that the defendant failed to uphold the applicable standard of care but also that the defendant’s departure from the standard of care caused the plaintiff’s harm. In other words, the failure to demonstrate causation is typically fatal to a plaintiff’s medical malpractice claim. In a recent New York opinion, a court explained what evidence is needed to establish causation in medical malpractice cases. If you were hurt while receiving medical care, it is advisable to talk to a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer about what evidence you must produce to present a winning claim.

History of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff’s husband was involved in a motor vehicle accident in November 2013, allegedly due to contact with a car operated by another driver. Following the accident, the plaintiff’s husband sought treatment from the defendant chiropractor, among others. While undergoing treatment, he suffered a deep vein thrombosis in late July 2014, which required surgery.

It is reported that the plaintiff’s husband ultimately died due to complications arising out of the deep vein thrombosis. Subsequently, the plaintiff, representing the estate of her deceased husband, initiated legal proceedings against the defendant chiropractor, alleging medical and chiropractic malpractice. The defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing the plaintiff failed to demonstrate causation. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion and the plaintiff appealed.

Establishing Causation in Medical Malpractice Cases

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. The court explained that in medical malpractice cases, defendants seeking summary judgment must demonstrate that they did not deviate from the accepted standard of care or that their actions were not a proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. Similarly, chiropractic malpractice actions require proof of deviation from accepted standards of practice and causation of the plaintiff’s injuries.

In the subject case, the defendant chiropractor, in support of its motion, submitted an affidavit from a qualified medical expert who opined that the treatment provided, including the use of a traction chair, did not cause the deep vein thrombosis. Instead, the expert attributed the thrombosis to the decedent’s pre-existing medical condition.

As such, the court found the defendant chiropractor had met its burden, as the expert’s affidavit established a lack of causation between the defendant chiropractor’s treatment and the injury. In response, the plaintiff failed to raise a triable issue of fact. The plaintiff’s expert’s affidavit regarding causation was deemed conclusory and speculative. Consequently, the court affirmed the order, granting the defendant chiropractor’s motion for summary judgment and dismissing the complaint against it.

Talk to a Capable Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney

Chiropractors, like all healthcare providers, are expected to provide competent care and if they neglect to do so they should be held accountable for any harm they cause. If you sustained losses due to the carelessness of a treatment provider, you should talk to an attorney about whether you may be able to pursue medical malpractice claims. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers, our capable Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys are proficient at demonstrating liability, and if you hire us, we will advocate aggressively on your behalf. You can reach us through our form online or by calling us at 833-247-8427 to arrange a meeting.

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