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New York Court Clarifies Liability for COVID-19 Related Care

The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on most aspects of life, but the healthcare industry probably felt the effects the most. In recognition of the difficulties in diagnosing and treating COVID-19 early in the pandemic, the New York legislature enacted EDTPA (the Emergency or Disaster Treatment Protection Act), which rendered healthcare providers largely immune from liability for harm sustained as a result of medical services in support of the response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Later amendments to EDTPA narrowed the immunity, allowing parties to pursue claims related to COVID-19 care in some circumstances. The amendments do not apply retroactively, though, as explained in a recent New York medical malpractice case. If you suffered harm due to the negligence of a doctor, you should meet with a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer about your potential claims.

History of the Case

It is reported that the decedent, who was a nursing home resident in March and April 2020, died from COVID-19. She received treatment for her illness from the defendants prior to her death. The plaintiff, the representative of the decedent’s estate, subsequently filed a lawsuit against the defendant asserting numerous causes of action, including medical malpractice claims. The defendant moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s complaint, arguing that EDTPA rendered them immune from liability for the plaintiff’s claims. The court granted the defendant’s motion to dismiss. The plaintiff then appealed.

Liability for COVID-19 Related Care

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. The court explained that, with the exception of cases involving gross negligence, EDTPA granted health care workers immunity from civil liability for any death or injury that is the direct result of medical services rendered in support of New York’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The New York legislature amended EDTPA in August 2020 to limit specific parts of the immunity and stated that the amendment was effective immediately and would apply to any claim that arose out of harm that occurred after the date of the amendment. The plaintiff instituted the subject case one week after the amendment, arguing that the defendants did not properly diagnose or treat the decedent with COVID-19, despite the fact that she exhibited symptoms of the illness.

In the defendants’ motion to dismiss, they argued that EDTPA barred the plaintiff’s claims, as her cause of action accrued prior to the amendment. The court agreed, declining to adopt the plaintiff’s reasoning that the amendment should apply retroactively, noting there was no support for her assertion. Thus, the court affirmed the trial court ruling.

Meet with an Experienced Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney

Negligently rendered medical services can cause irreparable harm and, in many instances, may be grounds for pursuing medical malpractice claims. If you suffered harm due to the carelessness of a physician, it is in your best interest to meet with an attorney. The experienced Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can inform you of your rights and aid you in seeking the maximum compensation available under the facts of your case. You can reach us by calling 833-200-2000 or by using our form online to set up a meeting.

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