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New York Court Explains the Distinction Between Medical Malpractice and Ordinary Negligence

Medical malpractice claims typically sound in negligence. There is a difference between ordinary negligence and negligent acts committed in the course of offering medical care, though, and the failure to recognize the distinction prior to instituting a lawsuit can have negative consequences. For example, in a recent New York case, a court dismissed the plaintiff’s lawsuit against a physician on the grounds that the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims, rather than the statute of limitations for negligence claims, applied and operated to bar the plaintiff’s claims. If you were hurt by incompetent medical care, you could be owed compensation, and you should speak to a Syracuse medical malpractice attorney.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

It is alleged that the plaintiff was a patient of the defendant’s allergy practice. During a treatment visit, one of the defendant’s employees injected the plaintiff with an allergy shot intended for another patient. The plaintiff later commenced a lawsuit against the defendant, alleging that she suffered personal injuries due to the error.

Reportedly, after discovery, the defendant moved for summary judgment on the grounds that the plaintiff’s claims were not filed within two years and six months of her harm, as demanded by the statute of limitations. The plaintiff argued that her claims sounded in ordinary negligence and not medical malpractice. The court granted the defendant’s motion and the plaintiff appealed.

The Distinction Between Medical Malpractice and Ordinary Negligence

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. In doing so, it explained that the distinction between malpractice and negligence lies in whether the defendant’s acts or omissions require special skills not possessed by lay people or involve medical science or art, or if they can be evaluated based on the everyday experience of the fact finder.

The court elaborated that a claim will sound in medical malpractice instead of ordinary negligence if the conduct in question is considered medical treatment or bears a substantial relationship to the rendering of medical care by a licensed physician. In contrast, if the gist of the complaint is that the defendant failed to uphold a duty outside of the context of furnishing medical treatment, it will sound in negligence.

In the subject case, the court found that the plaintiff’s claims bore a substantial relationship to the rendition of medical treatment in that they involved the administration of a shot, which required skills not possessed by the ordinary layperson. Thus, the court affirmed that the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims applied and barred the plaintiff’s action.

Confer with a Skilled Syracuse Medical Malpractice Attorney

Medical errors can cause critical injuries, and people harmed by such mistakes have the right to seek compensation for their losses. If your doctor’s incompetence negatively impacted your health, you may be able to pursue medical malpractice claims, and you should confer with an attorney regarding your options. The skilled Syracuse medical malpractice attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers can inform you of your rights and aid you in seeking the maximum damages recoverable under the law. You can contact us by using our form online or by calling us at 833-247-8427 to set up a meeting.

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