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New York Court Discusses Settling Medical Malpractice Cases

Medical malpractice trials can be costly and emotionally exhausting, and litigants run the risk that the judge or jury determining liability will rule against them regardless of how persuasive their evidence is. Thus, in many cases, it is prudent for a plaintiff in a medical malpractice case to settle their claims prior to trial. Settling a case is not always as straightforward as merely accepting a defendant’s offer, though, as demonstrated in a recent New York ruling. If you were injured by inadequate medical care, it is smart to speak to Syracuse medical malpractice lawyer regarding your rights.

The Facts of the Case

It is reported that the decedent went to an urgent care facility funded by the federal government, with complaints of shortness of breath and chest pain lasting a week. He underwent an EKG which was reviewed by the attending physician’s assistant, who assessed it as “OK” but noted a “few PVCs.” She diagnosed the decedent with gastroesophageal reflux disease and sent him home. The following morning, the decedent was found deceased. An autopsy revealed the cause of his death to be a cardiac arrhythmia which was caused by arteriosclerotic heart disease.

Allegedly, the plaintiff filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the defendant pursuant to the Federal Tort Claims Act (the Act). The plaintiff’s expert subsequently opined that if the physician’s assistant had complied with the standard of care, the decedent’s condition would have been properly treated, and he would still be alive. The parties proceeded to mediation and were able to reach a settlement agreement. The plaintiff then filed a motion for approval of the settlement.

Settling Medical Malpractice Cases

The court explained that a party suing the federal government is subject to the provisions of the Act, which, in part, limits the amount of attorneys’ fees recoverable to twenty-five percent of the judgment rendered. Further, as this action involved the wrongful death of the decedent, a formal motion to approve the settlement was required under New York law.

The court reviewed the plaintiff’s submissions and found that the $150,000 settlement was reasonable and fair under the facts and circumstances of the case, namely the limited economic damages, difficulties in proving liability, and expense and risk associated with taking the case to trial. Further, the $38,000 in attorneys’ fees sought by the plaintiff’s attorney were reasonable and were limited to twenty-five percent of the net settlement amount. Based on the foregoing, the court granted the plaintiff’s motion and approved the settlement.

Speak to an Experienced Syracuse Lawyer

Medical errors can cause grave harm, and in some cases, the injuries sustained are tragically fatal. If you lost a loved one due to medical malpractice, you should speak to an attorney regarding your potential claims. The experienced Syracuse attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can assess the circumstances surrounding your harm and advise you of what damages you may be able to pursue. You can reach us through our online form or by calling us at 833-247-8427 to set up a conference.

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