How Hospital Lawyers Can Help Mitigate Medical Malpractice Claims
Despite the years of training and specialized knowledge doctors receive, medical malpractice continues to happen. Misdiagnosis, surgical errors, and other negligence can lead to significant illness and injury.
A successful lawsuit can help you recover damages for your economic and non-economic losses. But how do you prove hospital malpractice?
Duty of Care
A hospital owes a duty to protect patients. This includes the responsibility to hire qualified medical professionals and to follow appropriate protocols when treating a patient. When a hospital fails in this duty and an injury occurs, the victim may be entitled to compensation.
Medical malpractice claims often involve allegations that doctors acted negligently. Negligence is a term that describes any act or omission that falls short of the standard of care. This standard is defined as what a reasonably competent doctor in the same field would do under similar circumstances. Defining the standard of care can be complicated, but a hospital negligence lawyer could help you understand how to prove the following four legal elements:
Hospitals are responsible for their employees. This means that they must train staff members on safety protocols, maintain proper hygiene standards and monitor the work of medical professionals. Additionally, hospitals must provide medical professionals with the tools they need to perform their jobs at a high level.
The law also states that a hospital is liable for the negligent acts of an employee physician, nurse, therapist or administrator. However, many medical workers are independent contractors who are not employees of the hospital. When this is the case, hospitals could face vicarious liability under a theory called respondeat superior. A hospital may attempt to defend itself by showing that it had limited control over an independently contracted physician or by arguing that the individual in question was acting within their scope of employment when they committed their actions.
Breach of Duty
Hospital lawyers have a unique perspective on medical negligence cases. They have in-depth knowledge of medical standards, hospital operations, and healthcare provider responsibilities. They can identify errors and point to the causes of those errors. A lawyer can also explain complex medical concepts and terminology to non-medical witnesses who are not familiar with these areas of the law.
A person who sues a hospital for negligence must prove by a preponderance of evidence that the hospital or physician owed him or her a duty of reasonable care, that the defendant breached this duty, and that such breach directly caused his or her injuries. The last element is called proximate cause. Proximate cause is an important legal concept that is often overlooked in malpractice claims. For example, a doctor cannot be held liable for a delayed diagnosis if the patient would have suffered declines in his or her health even without the timely treatment.
In many cases, a hospital is directly liable for its own negligent acts, but in some situations a hospital may be held vicariously liable for the actions of its employees under the doctrine of respondeat superior. This is particularly true for physicians who are employed by the hospital but who are deemed to be independent contractors rather than actual hospital employees. This requires medical malpractice lawyers to have the experience to understand and challenge arguments that a doctor is not an employee.
Doctors, nurses, and other medical professionals are expected to keep patients safe while under their care. When they fail to do so, they can be held liable for injuries caused by their negligent actions.
The key to a successful hospital negligence claim is causation. A patient must be harmed by the hospital’s negligence for the hospital to be liable. For example, a patient may be injured by a nurse who negligently fails to check for bed sores or by an incompetent doctor who creates a treatment plan that leads to complications.
Hospital negligence also includes failing to inform a patient of the risks, benefits, and alternatives to a procedure. This is a violation of the standard of care and could be grounds for a malpractice claim.
A hospital’s liability in a malpractice case depends on their relationship with the doctor who committed the act. In some cases, doctors are independent contractors rather than employees of the hospital. Nevertheless, the hospital might set the doctor’s hours, determine their compensation rates, or control the physician in other ways. Our firm can help you figure out whether a hospital might be liable for the doctor’s mistakes. We can also help you file a lawsuit against the correct party, depending on where and how you were hurt in the hospital. Our firm has the experience and resources to fight large medical malpractice insurance providers to secure fair settlements or verdicts for our clients.
Mistakes by hospital doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals have a major impact on people’s lives. They leave patients facing unaffordable medical bills and unable to work, often leading to financial ruin. They also leave them with permanent health issues and a life of pain and disability that they did not have to suffer through.
Hospitals cannot guarantee positive outcomes for their patients but they are expected to provide a level of care that is consistent with good medical practice. When they deviate from this standard, they can be held liable for malpractice. Medical malpractice claims require that a plaintiff establish four legal elements: duty, breach of duty, causation, and damages.
An experienced New York City hospital lawyer can help a plaintiff bring such a claim against the hospital that employed the physician who caused them harm. Even if the physician was an independent contractor, the hospital may still be responsible for their actions so long as the negligence occurred while they were on the job and within the scope of their employment.
To prove these elements, a lawyer will review all available hospital records and conduct “on the record” interviews with the victim, the medical professional(s) involved in the case, and other witnesses that can fill in the details of what happened. They may also work with medical experts to strengthen a case and provide testimony on the proper standard of care in the case at issue.