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Bronx Personal Injury & Real Estate Blog

Monday, April 20, 2020

Social Distancing Fear Prompted Fatal Attack in Hospital

Q: If a patient is attacked by another patient, can the hospital be held liable?

It takes a lot to shock a seasoned New York City personal injury attorney. We help victims seriously injured by the negligent, reckless, or even intentional actions or inactions of another person or entity.

Personal injury lawsuits, as well as wrongful death lawsuits, often arise as a result of car accidents, medical malpractice, or even product liability incidents where dangerous or defective products maim or kill innocent victims. But even personal injury attorneys didn’t likely foresee what the fear of contracting the novel coronavirus might cause people to do to each other.

In New York City--the epicenter of the coronavirus crisis in America--an 86-year-old woman waiting for bowel-related treatment in the ER of a Brooklyn Hospital was blindsided by a “smack” in the face that “knocked her off her feet and cracked her head on the floor.” She reportedly died a few hours later from a head injury while sitting in a chair waiting for a CT scan, before which her assailant left the hospital with only a disorderly conduct summons from hospital police. The assailant, awaiting psychiatric treatment, was reportedly caught on video attacking the woman without provocation but upon questioning justified her actions claiming the victim “didn’t stay more than six feet away”. Police were reportedly not notified of the incident for five hours and are seeking the attacker-- who has an extensive prior arrest record-- on upgraded charges.

In a wrongful death lawsuit, the victim’s estate and/or their closest surviving relatives may be entitled to damages if liability can be proven. Damages differ on a case-by-case basis but often include the victim’s pain and suffering prior to death, medical and funeral costs, and compensation for other losses related to the death of the victim.

What impact, if any, should the coronavirus pandemic play on the standard of care at hospitals?

In a case such as this, the videotaped attack is a key piece of evidence with respect to determining the liability of the attacker but also, along with other evidence, could give rise to a case against the hospital or its staff. Did hospital staff act reasonably under the circumstances? Should they have anticipated and taken measures to circumvent the attack; did they unreasonably delay the post-attack CT scan; and could earlier intervention have saved the victim’s life? Was the ER exceptionally busy and/or short-staffed with coronavirus-related cases? These are just some questions to consider in determining if there might be a case against the hospital.

If you or a loved one has been injured or a loved one has been killed due to the actions or inactions of somebody else, the Goldstein Law Firm can help maximize the compensation to which you may be entitled. Contact us today for a free consultation.

From our office in the Bronx, New York, we represent injured victims throughout New York City and New York State, as well as those injured while visiting New York.


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