Medical Malpractice

When a licensed healthcare professional acts negligently, causing injury or death to a patient, that patient or their loved ones may be entitled to collect damages.

At Suris & Associates, P.C., our experienced team of medical malpractice attorneys handles personal injury cases involving the negligence of physicians, hospitals, and other health care facilities and providers.

Medical professionals have a duty to provide you with reasonable care. If they fail in that duty, they are negligent and have committed malpractice. Medical Negligence can occur in many different ways. It can occur as the result of a delay in diagnosing an illness or condition, a failure to diagnose a problem, a botched surgery, improper or inappropriate treatment, or any other number of scenarios. However, a claim for malpractice can be made only if the unreasonable behavior caused a provable injury.

Proving the connections between negligent care and a resulting injury or death can be difficult. Except for most admissions for childbirth or cosmetic surgery, the vast majority of patients admitted to hospitals have significant pre-existing medical problems where the injury caused by negligence may be impossible to separate from the natural outcome of the underlying medical or disease process. Thus, many relatively clear circumstances of negligence in hospitals can still be defended where the pre-existing or underlying medical problem is itself significant. Where the patient is otherwise young and healthy upon admission to the hospital, a serious injury or death is far more likely to be due to negligence of the hospital staff, including doctors and nurses.

The personal injury attorneys of Suris & Associates are committed to helping you recover the necessary compensation you deserve. At Suris & Associates, we have experience and resources to investigate your case thoroughly and prepare the evidence to win at trial.

For sound legal advice and assistance regarding medical malpractice and personal injuries, contact the New York medical malpractice lawyers of Suris & Associates at (631)423-9700 or by filling out our online form.

Always a Free Initial Consultation • No Fee Unless We Collect for Personal Injury Claims

Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Malpractice

1) What is “medical malpractice”?

Medical malpractice is when a health care provider causes an injury or death to a patient by failing to provide a reasonable standard of care. In many instances, medical malpractice is not obvious to a lay-person and requires the review and analysis by medical experts.

Medical malpractice can include:

Permission was not clearly given before your operation.

The doctor misdiagnosed your condition.

Improper treatment.

Failure to treat.

Delay in treatment.

Failure to perform appropriate follow-up.

You operation was performed incorrectly.

A problem arose, which should have been anticipated by the medical provider.

2) What is a reasonable standard of care?

This is the level of care and skill that an average qualified medical provider would provide to a patient seeking medical care for similar symptoms under similar conditions.

3) What must be shown to prevail in a medical malpractice case?

A bad result, a disagreement among different doctors, or even a medical mistake does not necessarily mean a doctor was negligent. While there are various types of medical malpractice claims, generally speaking, a claimant must usually show the following:

The health care provider owed a duty to the patient to provide a reasonable standard of care

The health care provider breached that duty

The patient suffered an injury

The patient’s injury was a proximate cause of the health care provider’s breach

A physician owes a duty to a patient once a “doctor-patient” relationship has been formed. Such a relationship is usually formed when the physician agrees to care for the patient. Nonetheless, even if it is established that a duty existed and the health care provider breached that duty (eg. failed to meet the requisite standard of care), a claimant may not recover unless the claimant suffered injuries that were a direct result of the breach. If the breach resulted in no harm to the patient, a claimant generally has no right to recovery.

4) What is the first step in pursuing a medical malpractice claim?

The first step in pursuing a medical malpractice case is suspecting that one may have been the victim of medical malpractice. While not every bad result is due to medical malpractice, one who develops a “gut feeling” that something was wrong should consult a qualified attorney to review the matter, who often will consult with medical professionals. This process often involves the obtaining and review of medical records and other pertinent information. If it is determined that one has a good case, the next step is usually to give written notice of the claim to the individuals or entities that are believed to have committed the medical malpractice.

5) How do I know if I have a claim against the hospital?

Most injuries or deaths in medical malpractice cases occur in hospitals, and when due to provable negligence, most such cases usually involve multiple doctors and nurses who share the fault. However, it is important to note that while most nurses are employees of the hospital, almost all doctors are not employees of the hospital, thus the hospital is not legally liable for any negligence of the doctors. Patients routinely sign a “Conditions of Admission” form when they enter a hospital for any reason, and these documents clearly state that the doctors, including radiologists, emergency room physicians, and others, are “Independent Contractors,” and not hospital employees. This requires that all doctors who are involved in the care of a patient in a hospital who suffers a significant injury or death be named as defendants, along with the hospital.

6) Will I have to go through a trial in court before my case is finished?

While some cases do require a formal trial proceeding, many of our cases are settled before they go to court.

7) I’ve heard that lawsuits take a long time. Is that true with malpractice cases?

Malpractice cases don’t necessarily take any longer than other cases, but doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies often try to drag them out. Malpractice claims are often delayed because the doctor or hospital knows they will ultimately have to pay. In other words, they know that they made a horrible mistake. We work hard to prevent these delays.

8) I know lawyers can be expensive. How does your firm charge?

WE ONLY GET PAID IF WE WIN!! Our firm does not charge any fee until we win money for you. We share in our client’s success by charging a percentage of the amount recovered. It is a win – win situation.

9) What is my case worth?

A typical medical malpractice claim will include compensation for past, present and future pain and suffering, payment of past and future medical expenses for treating the injury caused by the malpractice, and past and future lost wages you have incurred as a result of the malpractice.

10) How much time do I have to file a lawsuit against my doctor?

“Statutes of limitation” govern the length of time one has to file a lawsuit or be forever barred from pursuing such claim. In New York, the statute of limitations is generally two and one half years 2.5 years from the last date of continuous treatment by the physician to be sued. If the suit is for wrongful death the statute of limitations is generally two years from the date of death. If the suit is against a municipality, a notice of claim must be filed within 90 days of the last date of continuous treatment. Different periods of limitation apply to suits against the State of New York and the United States of America. There are many rules that extend the statute of limitations. For example, if an object, not meant to be left in the patient’s body, is left behind in an operation, the time of the statute of limitations is calculated from the date that the foreign body is discovered. Children generally have ten years to start an action.

11) Have I waived my rights because I signed a consent form?

A consent form does not give the health care provider a license to commit malpractice. While the execution of a typical consent form indicates acknowledgment of stated risks and complications associated with a given treatment or procedure, it does not relieve the health care provider from his or her duty of meeting the standard of care associated with such treatment or procedure.