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New York Court Discusses Liability for Injuries Sustained from COVID-19 Treatment

People throughout New York sought treatment for COVID-19 during the pandemic. While many people received appropriate care, some did not and ultimately developed injuries due to the carelessness of their treatment providers. Whether people who sustained such losses can recover compensation via medical malpractice claims depends, in part, on whether the provider in question is immunity from liability pursuant to the PREP Act. Only certain care qualifies for immunity, though, as explained in a recent New York opinion. If you or a loved one sustained losses because of inadequate medical care, you should consult a Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer to determine your options.

Case Facts and Procedural Setting

It is alleged that the plaintiff, along with his wife, commenced a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant hospital seeking damages for the development of pressure ulcers while undergoing treatment for COVID-19. The defendant filed a motion to dismiss the complaint, contending immunity from liability under the United States Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness Act (PREP Act) due to the use of a “covered countermeasure” during a public health emergency. The trial denied the motion, prompting the defendant to appeal.

Liability for Injuries Sustained During COVID-19 Treatment

The salient issue on appeal was whether the plaintiff’s claims fell within the scope of immunity provided by the PREP Act. Ultimately, the court agreed with the trial court’s reasoning and affirmed its opinion.

In doing so, the court explained that the PREP Act grants broad immunity from liability for claims related to the administration or use of covered countermeasures during a public health emergency. However, the scope of immunity is limited to claims that have a causal relationship with the covered countermeasure.

In this case, the plaintiffs alleged that the defendant failed to adhere to prescribed protocols for the prevention and care of pressure ulcers. The evidence submitted by the defendant, however, did not definitively establish that the pressure ulcers resulted from the use of a ventilator, which is considered an approved countermeasure under the PREP Act. As such, the court concluded that there was a significant dispute regarding the cause of the pressure ulcers, which meant that dismissing the complaint was inappropriate.

Furthermore, the court determined that the plaintiff’s claims were cognizable under state law and not subject to the immunity defenses of the PREP Act. Therefore, the court held that the trial court was not divested of subject matter jurisdiction, and the case could proceed under state law.

Speak to an Assertive Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney

While there are certain scenarios, like the COVID-19 pandemic, that offer healthcare providers immunity from liability for harm that arises out of medical treatment, in most instances, doctors who render incompetent care, injuring their patients, can be deemed liable for medical malpractice. If you were wounded by the carelessness of your treatment provider, you may be owed damages, it is wise to talk to an attorney about your rights. At DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers, our dedicated Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys possess the skills and resources needed to help you seek justice. You can contact us through our form online or by calling us at 833-247-8427 to arrange a meeting.

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