Man Injured in Car Accident Wins Malpractice Case
Medical malpractice cases typically involve a patient suing a physician or healthcare provider for negligence or improper treatment that resulted in unnecessary pain and suffering. Third parties rarely enter into the equation. But what if it was a third party, and not the patient, that suffered as a result of a doctor’s negligence? Could that person sue for medical malpractice? According to a recent ruling by the New York Court of Appeals, they could in some cases.
In 2009, Lorraine Walsh visited the South Nassau Communities Hospital complaining of pain in her stomach. After performing an examination, a doctor at the hospital gave Walsh a heavy dose of the pain medication Dilaudid and then discharged her soon thereafter. The doctor failed to mention that the medication could – and very likely would – impair her ability to drive.
On her way home, Walsh drifted into the wrong lane of traffic and struck a vehicle, injuring driver Edward Davis. Rather than take legal action against Walsh, Davis chose instead to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital that had treated her, arguing it was the doctor’s negligence that had caused the accident.
The hospital and doctor moved to dismiss the suit on the grounds that Davis’ claim lacked legal merit, and that motion was initially granted by the trial court. Davis appealed the ruling, and eventually the case made it all the way to the New York Court of Appeals. After hearing the case, the justices in the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Davis in a 4-2 decision.
Justice Eugene Fahey explained the court’s decision in a statement. “By taking the affirmative step of administering the medication…without warning, Walsh about the disorienting effect of those drugs created a peril affecting every motorist in Walsh’s vicinity.”
This ruling establishes an important precedent in New York for future cases where a third party is injured as a result of a doctor’s negligence. Whenever a doctor prescribes medications that could impair a person’s ability to function normally, it is that doctor’s responsibility to make sure the patient understands the potential dangers associated with the treatment.
If you’ve been involved in an accident due to a doctor’s negligence, you could be eligible for financial compensation for your pain and suffering. Give us a call today to speak to one of the attorneys at Ask 4 SAM to learn more.