Vicarious liability in malpractice claims

On Behalf of | Dec 11, 2019 | Medical Malpractice

Texas residents who were injured through the negligence of a doctor may be wondering who is to be held liable. After all, it could be either the doctor or the hospital. The answer will depend on the nature of the case, but the hospital can be held liable according to the legal concept of vicarious liability.

This can apply when the negligent employee was acting within the scope of employment. For example, when the employee was performing a procedure that he or she was expressly hired to perform or when the employee was performing an activity that the employer benefited from in some way.

Obviously, surgery falls under a doctor’s scope of employment, but the hospital cannot be held liable in the case of procedures that the doctor performed “off the clock” for their own profit. In addition, employers cannot be blamed for the actions of independent contractors. Hospitals may try to defend themselves, then, by establishing the doctor’s independence: for example, by emphasizing how little role they had in monitoring his or her work. Vicarious liability applies not just to hospitals but also to doctors when a staff member under their supervision is negligent. Attending physicians can likewise be held responsible for the actions of their interns or students.

This is just one aspect of medical malpractice law, and victims who intend to file a malpractice claim may want a lawyer to help them navigate this and other complexities. With a lawyer, victims may be able to establish a strong case and achieve a fair settlement covering their medical expenses, lost wages and other applicable losses. The lawyer may bring in experts to conduct an independent medical investigation in the effort to establish the other party’s negligence.