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New York Court Discusses Vicarious Liability for Medical Malpractice

When people suffer harm due to incompetent care provided by a doctor in a hospital, they are often able to pursue medical malpractice claims against the doctor. Many plaintiffs will attempt to seek damages from the hospitals as well, but liability will only be imposed in certain circumstances. In a recent opinion, a New York court discussed what a plaintiff must show to establish a hospital should be held accountable for the negligence of one of its physicians in a case in which the plaintiff suffered permanent brain damage due to surgical errors. If you were injured because of negligent care you received in a hospital, it is smart to meet with a Syracuse hospital malpractice attorney to discuss your rights.

The Plaintiff’s Harm

Reportedly, the plaintiff visited the defendant hospital for heart surgery in February 2014. He experienced significant complications during the surgery and was subsequently placed on a ventilator and a machine that circulated his blood outside of his body. A few days later, his condition worsened, and as he was being transported to the operating room, the tubing to his life support systems was disconnected, and he suffered a loss of oxygen, which resulted in permanent brain damage.

It is alleged that the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the surgeon and the defendant hospital, arguing the hospital was vicariously liable for the surgeon’s negligence. The hospital moved for summary judgment, and the court granted the motion. The plaintiff appealed.

Vicarious Liability for Medical Malpractice

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court ruling. Under New York law, a hospital generally cannot be held vicariously liable for the malpractice of a private doctor who is not an employee. There are exceptions that allow a hospital to be liable for the negligence of an independent physician, though, such as when the hospital maintained control over the means and manner of the physician’s work.

A court faced with a vicarious liability claim against a hospital will examine whether it controlled the manner in which the work was to be completed. A hospital may also be held vicariously liable for the medical malpractice of an independent doctor under a theory of apparent agency or estoppel. In the subject case, the court found that the plaintiff failed to produce any evidence that would allow for the imposition of vicarious liability on the hospital, under either exception. Thus, it affirmed the trial court ruling.

Speak to a Capable Syracuse Attorney

Hospitals generally employ a large staff of healthcare providers, and in some instances, they may be held vicariously liable for the malpractice of the people they employ. If you were hurt by medical mistakes when you were hospitalized, you might be able to seek compensation via a hospital malpractice lawsuit, and you should speak to an attorney. The capable attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano Personal Injury Lawyers take pride in helping people harmed by medical negligence fight to protect their interests, and if you hire us, we will work tirelessly on your behalf. You can contact us at 833-200-2000 or via the form online to schedule a conference.



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