Principles of Medical Malpractice Lawsuits in New York

Ava Lawson | May 6th, 2015

lawyer and jurorsIncidents of preventable medical malpractice made headlines when the National Institute of Health stated that at least 98,000 patients died in hospitals every year as a result of medical mistakes. That groundbreaking report was released in 1999 and over the last 15 years, litigation rates have climbed as doctors and surgeons have been accused of providing substandard care that causes injury or death.

Chris Stern Hyman, founder of New York City’s Medical Mediation Group, discussed the fundamental principles of medical malpractice on WRVO’s “Take Care” last week.  Hyman says that nearly 8 percent of all doctors face a medical malpractice claim each year, brought by injured patients seeking monetary damages. “Basically you have to prove the elements of negligence and negligence care,” Hyman told WRVO.  “And the way that that is proven is through expert testimony by another physician who has reviewed the case and then testifies about the deviations from care.”

Patient safety needs to come first

Litigation involving claims of hospital or doctor negligence is not an undertaking for the faint of heart. While every state is different in terms of statutes of limitation and length of time for resolution, Hyman says that most plaintiffs who file a medical malpractice lawsuit in New York State will see resolution in approximately four years. She adds that the bulk of claims result in settlements rather than jury verdicts.

Litigation is costly as well, cautions Hyman. As an example, plaintiffs may spend $300 an hour for an expert opinion and up to $3,000 a day for expert testimony provided during trial or a taped deposition.

Plaintiffs may seek two types of compensation: compensatory and punitive. Compensatory damages are those for all related hospital and medical expenses, lost wages, reduced earning capacity, pain and emotional suffering, as well as loss of enjoyment of life. Juries may award punitive damages if the defendant has been found to have acted with wanton or reckless indifference, thus providing grossly negligent treatment.

In the interview Hyman noted that mediation is now more commonplace, as it avoids the cost and emotional turmoil of a protracted trial.

Hyman likens litigation to a battle and attorneys as warriors. “It’s an entirely different way of perceiving a problem or dispute. Mediation is a process, a neutral third party to facilitate a discussion to both sides, exchange information, test the options of what might be done. It broadens the options that are available because in court, money is almost only available.”

But even as more medical malpractice plaintiffs in New York turn to mediation, Hyman stresses that a cultural shift is needed in our society – one that places more emphasis on patient safety.

Medical malpractice lawsuit in NY

The Sanders Firm has been on the forefront of medical malpractice litigation in New York for more than four decades, leveraging our resources and expertise to assist clients in need. We understand the lasting consequences of surgical mistakes, missed diagnoses and general negligence, and offer our services on a contingency basis, meaning no upfront costs until we win compensation. Our expansive legal team consists of seasoned trial attorneys, veteran investigators, in-house healthcare experts and other support staff who are dedicated to securing justice on your behalf.

Whether recovered through mediation efforts or a court hearing, monetary damages procured through litigation can dramatically affect the victim’s quality of life, while ensuring negligent parties are held accountable for their actions. If you believe you may have a case, we invite you to call our offices today at 1-800-FAIR-PLAY to set up a free legal consultation.


  1. WRVO Public Media, Medical malpractice lawsuits a concern for both patients, doctors http://wrvo.org/post/medical-malpractice-lawsuits-concern-both-patients-doctors

  2. National Conference of State Legislatures, Medical Liability, http://www.ncsl.org/research/financial-services-and-commerce/medical-liability-medical-malpractice-laws.aspx