Who Is Liable When Car Accident Injuries Are Compounded by Medical Negligence?
A negligent driver will be legally responsible for car accident injuries caused by his or her negligent actions as well as medical negligence that happens after the car accident. In other words, the at-fault driver will be responsible for all common negligence, including medical malpractice, after the car accident.
If the medical malpractice falls in the category of gross negligence, however, the at-fault driver won’t be held legally responsible for the medical malpractice. Emergency room (ER) workers, ER physicians, hospitals and clinics, and manufacturers of substandard medical products can also be held partially responsible when medical negligence exacerbates car accident injuries.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice happens when a medical practitioner or medical facility fails to offer a patient an adequate level of care as spelled out in the standard of care offered by other medical practitioners and medical facilities in that medical field. A perfect example of medical malpractice is when an ER physician fails to do a test that physicians within that specialty must perform after a vehicle accident victim complains of headaches.
Types of Medical Negligence Likely to Happen After a Car Accident
- Medical errors committed by the paramedics
- ER visit malpractice
- Failure to treat injuries appropriately
- Failure to detect an illness
- Failure to carry out necessary medical procedures, tests, and surgeries
- Medication mistakes
Medical Negligence Doesn’t Always Cause Injury
Medical negligence doesn’t always cause a patient to suffer an injury. When a driver performs an inadequate evasive action and no accident happens, the driver is still considered to be negligent, even if he or she didn’t injure anyone. Likewise, a medical practitioner may fail to follow the set medical procedures in treating a patient, but if there is no harm inflicted on the patient, that negligence won’t result in a medical malpractice lawsuit.
When Does Medical Negligence Become Medical Malpractice?
Medical negligence transforms into medical malpractice when the medical practitioner’s negligent treatment inflicts an injury on the patient, exacerbates the patient’s condition, causes unanticipated complications, or forces the patient to seek additional medical treatment. For medical negligence to result in a meaningful medical malpractice case, it must consist of legal causation and damages. If the medical practitioner’s negligent treatment didn’t directly cause the patient’s injuries (causation) or if the medical practitioner’s negligent treatment didn’t impact the patient’s health (damages), then there will be no enough grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Recovering Compensation for Car Accident Injuries Worsened by Medical Malpractice
A car or Uber accident victim whose injuries have been worsened by medical malpractice has the right to pursue compensation for his or her injuries. He or she can file a personal injury lawsuit against all the responsible parties for his or her damages. The victim can include damages, such as past and future medical costs, rehabilitation expenses, lost wages, loss of earning potential, emotional suffering, pain, and mental anguish.
Proving Medical Malpractice
Most states classify medical malpractice as a breach of contract or tort depending on medical services that a healthcare provider had or should have offered a patient. To prove medical malpractice after a car accident, the patient’s attorney must demonstrate the following four crucial elements of a tort.
If a medical practitioner treats a car accident victim, a duty is established. As such, the medical practitioner has a duty to provide the patient with a proper standard of care as defined by other healthcare providers within the same field. Medical practitioners have the duty to adhere to the established standard of care.
A violation of the duty of care is the second element of a medical malpractice claim. This happens when a medical practitioner fails to follow the established treatment procedures. In this context, simple errors aren’t always categorized as a violation. The medical practitioner must make serious and unreasonable mistakes that cause a patient to be severely injured.
Causation is the third element of a medical malpractice lawsuit that an injured party’s attorney must prove. The attorney must demonstrate that the medical practitioner’s negligence directly harmed or injured the patient. If the medical practitioner’s violation didn’t directly exacerbate the patient’s car accident injuries, then it doesn’t fit to be medical malpractice.
The injured party’s attorney must prove that the negligent actions of the medical practitioner resulted in the actual harm or injury. The injury can be an exacerbation of an existing one or a new injury.
A successful medical lawsuit must have demonstrated the existence of all the above elements. If the accused healthcare provider can show that one or all of the above elements doesn’t exist, then the lawsuit may be unsuccessful.