Medical malpractice: What is vicarious liability?

On Behalf of | Sep 16, 2020 | Medical Malpractice

When a Massachusetts resident receives medical care in a hospital, he or she has a right to reasonably expect certain things. For instance, a patient can expect that any nurse, nurse’s aid, physician, lab technician or other hospital employee involved in providing care and treatment will adhere to accepted safety standards and hospital protocol at all times. In short, cutting corners may constitute negligence, which, in turn, may lead to medical malpractice.

So-called “never events” are occurrences that cause injuries to patients that should never occur (hence, the name) but do because of negligence. Surgical errors, such as leaving a foreign object inside the body of a patient or performing the wrong operation would come under the category of never events. If a patient suffers emotional, physical or economic damages because a hospital worker was negligent in his or her care, that patient may be entitled to seek restitution by filing a personal injury claim in civil court.

Vicarious liability is a term that applies to an employer who might be held liable for the actions of an employee. If an employee acts with negligence during the normal course of his or her duties and causes injury to a patient, not only can the patient file a medical malpractice claim against the employee, but the employer may also be named as a defendant. Vicarious liability could also apply to situations where hospitals have hired contractors to work in outpatient centers or emergency rooms.

If an individual believes there is evidence to prove that he or she suffered injury because of medical malpractice in Massachusetts, a first logical step to take is to determine who the responsible parties might be. There may be one, three, five or more defendants in a single case; it depends on the details of the events that led to the injury. An experienced personal injury attorney is a great asset to have on hand when sorting through evidence and trying to determine who should be named as a defendant.


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