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New York Court Discusses a Hospital’s Vicarious Liability in Medical Malpractice Cases

It is common for people experiencing acute or critical medical issues to visit a hospital for treatment. If the care provided in the hospital harms, rather than helps, a person, the person may seek damages against the care providers that provided the inadequate treatment. Additionally, in some cases, the injured person may be able to recover damages from the hospital as well. In a recent hospital malpractice case, a New York appellate court explained when a hospital may be liable for negligent care provided to a patient during his or her hospitalization. If you suffered harm due to incompetent care rendered in a hospital, you should consult a skillful Rochester hospital malpractice attorney regarding your potential claims against the parties that caused your harm.

Facts and Procedure of the Case

It is alleged that the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant physicians and hospital, arguing they deviated from the applicable standard of care, resulting in the death of the plaintiff’s decedent. The complaint alleged, in part, that the named defendant physicians were employees of the defendant hospital, and that they were acting within the scope of their employment when they harmed the decedent. After discovery was completed, the defendant hospital filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that it was not liable for the negligence of the individually named defendants. The court granted the motion, after which the plaintiff appealed.

A Hospital’s Vicarious Liability for Malpractice

Under New York law, a hospital may be held vicariously liable for the negligence committed by its employees within the scope of their employment, pursuant to the doctrine of respondeat superior. A hospital will generally not be deemed responsible for the negligent acts or omissions of a private physician that is not an employee of the hospital, but is merely working there as an independent contractor, however. An exception to the general rule arises, though, in cases in which a patient visits the emergency department of a hospital, seeking treatment from the hospital and not a particular doctor, or in cases where the hospital exercised control over a doctor, or the doctor acted as an agent of the hospital.

In the absence of proof that there is no basis for a hospital to be held vicariously liable, a hospital must establish either that the physician was not negligent or that the physician’s negligence did not cause the plaintiff’s alleged harm. In the subject case, the appellate court found that the hospital did not present evidence sufficient to defeat the plaintiff’s vicarious liability claims. Specifically, the evidence established that the individually named defendants were agents or employees of the hospital. The hospital also failed to show that the defendant physicians were not negligent or that their negligence did not cause the plaintiff’s harm. Thus, the appellate court reversed the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Capable Medical Malpractice Attorney

If you suffered harm because of negligent care in a hospital, it is in your best interest to meet with a capable hospital malpractice attorney regarding what compensation you may be able to pursue. The diligent attorneys of DeFrancisco & Falgiatano, LLP Personal Injury Lawyers will craft compelling arguments on your behalf to provide you with a strong chance of a successful result. We can be contacted at 833-200-2000 or via our form online to schedule a meeting.

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