Courts that specialize in medical malpractice cases are now increasing in New York City. The initial program was started in Bronx County approximately 15 years ago through the supervision of Justice Douglas McKeon in response to the filing of 4,000 medical malpractice cases annually. The idea was to reduce Court backlogs and save New York City money. More specifically, the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation was seeking to manage filed claims and reduce payouts with regard to the 11 public hospitals it operates.
Judge McKeon has claimed that since he began focusing on resolving medical malpractice cases, he has settled approximately 1,000 which otherwise would have further clogged an already overtaxed Court calendar. Presently, McKeon meets with attorneys for malpractice litigants in 12-15 cases monthly. Due to the success of this system, it has now been expanded to include courts in Brooklyn, Queens, Manhattan, and upstate in Erie County.
In the 1980’s and early 1990’s in Westchester County, there used to be a program by which before a medical malpractice case could be filed, it would have to be presented to a medical malpractice panel comprised of one judge, one physician and one attorney, which would make a determination whether or not the case had sufficient merit to be instituted. Only if 2 of the 3 panel members decided that the case was meritorious would the plaintiff’s attorney be permitted to file the case in Court.
New York Chief Administrative Judge Ann Pfau noted that the program has been saving City hospitals money and having an impact on physicians’ malpractice premiums. Beginning on December 1, 2011, and utilizing a $3 million dollar federal grant, Judge Pfau will become the coordinating judge of the State Court’s medical malpractice program, responsible to train judges in how to properly handle malpractice claims. Additionally, Judge Pfau will begin conducting conferences to resolve these claims in Brooklyn as Judge McKeon does in the Bronx.
Judge McKeon claims that the City now settles approximately 95% of its medical malpractice claims filed against the Health and Hospitals Corporation. Further, the Health and Hospitals Corp. has announced that its payouts on claims dropped from $196 million in 2003 to $130 million in 2010. The program includes an early investigation of claims and attempts to settle cases before they reach the trial stage. In Counties such as Kings and the Bronx, where litigants can wait for years to obtain a trial date, and be forced to endure numerous delays before the case actually gets into a courtroom, any effort to resolve cases on an expedited basis is most welcome.
If you are the victim of medical malpractice, contact the Westchester County Medical Malpractice Attorneys online or toll free at 888-761-7633 for a free initial consultation with one of our experienced medical malpractice litigators. We will fight the defendants and their insurance companies to maximize compensation for your pain and suffering, past and future medical and hospital expenses, past and future lost earnings and earnings potential and loss of enjoyment of life.