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New York Appeals Court Agrees that Parents Should Have Been Given Leave to File Late Notice of Child’s Birth Injury Medical Malpractice Claim

Those who have suffered personal injuries or a loved one’s wrongful death have only a limited time in which to file a Syracuse medical malpractice lawsuit. This includes situations in which the victim of the alleged medical negligence is a minor child. If your family has been hurt by a doctor or hospital, an experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you get started on your case, but you must take the first step by setting up a consultation.

Facts of the Case

In a recent appeals court case, the plaintiffs were the parents of a minor child who allegedly suffered injuries during her birth at a city hospital owned and operated by the defendant. The plaintiffs sought to file suit in the Supreme Court, Bronx County, to seek for the child’s injuries via a motion for leave to file a late notice of claim. The defendant resisted the plaintiffs’ motion, urging the trial court to deny the relief sought by the plaintiffs. The trial granted the motion for leave, and the defendant appealed.

The Appeals Court’s Decision

The New York Supreme Court Appellate Division for First Department affirmed the lower court’s ruling. According to the appellate court, the lower tribunal’s decision to grant the plaintiffs leave to file a late notice of claim within the discretion of the trial court. Although the defendant pointed out that the plaintiffs have failed to set forth a “reasonable excuse” for their delay in filing a timely claim, the appellate court found that this was not fatal to the plaintiffs’ case under the circumstances. According to the court, the plaintiffs had met their burden by showing that the defendant was aware – and had actual knowledge – of the “essential facts constituting the claim” within the time period set forth under New York statutory law for the filing of claims such as the one at bar. Because the defendant had knowledge of these facts within the requisite time, it would not be prejudiced in defending the case on its merits.

In so holding, the court of appeals noted that the defendant had the child’s medical records in its possession continually since the date of the alleged act of medical negligence, including records showing that the child had seizures and extensive areas of infarct after her head became wedged in her mother’s pelvis during birth. The fact that the plaintiffs failed to file an expert witness affidavit along with their leave application did not change the outcome, given that the basic facts of the plaintiffs’ medical malpractice claim could be gleaned from the medical records.

Talk to a Lawyer in Syracuse

A careless obstetrician or other medical provider can cause a lifetime of pain and suffering to an infant and his or her family. If you believe that your child has suffered injuries as result of medical malpractice during labor and delivery, you should talk to a lawyer as soon as possible. As this case illustrates, there is a limited time during which to file a claim. Although the court allowed the plaintiffs to file their claim after the usual deadline under the facts of this particular case, the opposite is usually true, so it is important to speak to counsel as soon as possible if you think you may have a case. To schedule an appointment with an experienced Syracuse birth injury attorney, call DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers at 315-479-9000.

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