Albany, NY asked in Wrongful Death for New York

Q: If a family member is hurt in an accident with a reckless driver, but later dies because of poor quality medical care,

who is the responsible party?

Related Topics:
1 Lawyer Answer
Ali Shahrestani,
Ali Shahrestani,
  • New York, NY
  • Licensed in New York

A: It sounds like medical negligence was the proximate cause of death, not the car accident.

See:, case: Chowes v Aslam, 2007 NY Slip Op 51922(U) [17 Misc 3d 1111(A)] Decided on October 11, 2007 Supreme Court, Kings County, which states:

""Evidence of negligence is not enough by itself to establish liability." (Sheehan v City of New York, 40 NY2d 496, 501 [1976].) "It must also be proved that the negligence was the cause of the event which produced the harm sustained by one who brings the complaint." (Id.) "The concept of proximate cause, or more appropriately legal cause" (Derdiarian v Felix Contracting Corp., 51 NY2d 308, 314 [1980]) encompass two different, but related, issues: whether the defendant's negligence "was a substantial cause of the events which produced the injury"; and whether "policy considerations that serve to place manageable limits upon liability that flows from negligent conduct" should preclude liability in the particular case. (See id., at 315.)

"There may be one, or more than one, substantial factor." (Ohdan v City of New York, 268 AD2d 86, 89 [1st Dept 2000].) And "the absence or presence of prima facie proof of proximate cause [is] not dependent on pure logic alone but [is] rather to be determined . . . upon mixed considerations of logic, common sense, justice, policy and precedent." (Sheehan v City of New York, 40 NY2d at 503 [internal quotation marks and citations omitted].) Here, the City and the Bank argue only precedent.

"Where the acts of a third person intervene between the defendant's conduct and the plaintiff's injury, . . . liability turns upon whether the intervening act is a normal or foreseeable consequence of the situation created by the defendant's negligence." (Derdiarian v Felix Contracting Corp., 51 NY2d at 315.) The acts of a third person will be deemed a "superseding cause which interrupted the link between [the defendant's] negligence and plaintiff's injuries" when they are "independent intervening acts which operate upon but do not flow from the original negligence." (Id., at 315-16.) "An intervening act may not serve as a superseding cause, and relieve an actor of responsibility, where the risk of the intervening act occurring is the very same risk which renders the actor negligent." (Id., at 316.)

The relationship between "the foreseeable risk associated with the original negligence" (see id., at 315-16) and both causation-in-fact and proximate cause cannot be over-emphasized. "[T]he element of causation may be said to provide the essential link between negligent conduct and its consequences, between the harm threatened and the harm done." (Sewar v Gagliardi Brothers Service, 51 NY2d 752, 758-59 [1980] [Fuchsberg, J., concurring].) "[W]hat reasonable care requires . . . may both be determined by and be determinative of the question as to whether [an] activity . . . [is] an intervening cause of an accident." (See Quinlan v Cecchini, 41 NY2d 686, 691 [1977].) "Foreseeability bears on both issues." (Id.)"

More details are necessary to provide a professional analysis of your issue. The best first step is an Initial Consultation with an Attorney. You can read more about me, my credentials, awards, honors, testimonials, and media appearances/ publications on my law practice website. I practice law in CA, NY, MA, and DC in the following areas of law: Business & Contracts, Criminal Defense, Divorce & Child Custody, and Education Law. This answer does not constitute legal advice; make any predictions, guarantees, or warranties; or create any Attorney-Client relationship.

Justia Ask a Lawyer is a forum for consumers to get answers to basic legal questions. Any information sent through Justia Ask a Lawyer is not secure and is done so on a non-confidential basis only.

The use of this website to ask questions or receive answers does not create an attorney–client relationship between you and Justia, or between you and any attorney who receives your information or responds to your questions, nor is it intended to create such a relationship. Additionally, no responses on this forum constitute legal advice, which must be tailored to the specific circumstances of each case. You should not act upon information provided in Justia Ask a Lawyer without seeking professional counsel from an attorney admitted or authorized to practice in your jurisdiction. Justia assumes no responsibility to any person who relies on information contained on or received through this site and disclaims all liability in respect to such information.

Justia cannot guarantee that the information on this website (including any legal information provided by an attorney through this service) is accurate, complete, or up-to-date. While we intend to make every attempt to keep the information on this site current, the owners of and contributors to this site make no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to from this site.