Can a third party injured due to medical malpractice sue the healthcare provider?
When we think of a medical malpractice suit, what usually comes to mind is a patient injured in some way by his or her medical provider. It is easy to conjure up images of drug interactions and botched surgeries, as these are a few of the common situations that lead to a lawsuit of this kind. Recently, the New York State Court of Appeals was presented with a different type of medical malpractice suit — one brought by a third party.
In 2009, Lorraine Walsh went to the emergency room at South Nassau Communities Hospital with stomach pain. The treating physician gave her a strong painkiller known as Dilaudid. Although the drug can impair one’s ability to operate a motor vehicle, the doctor never warned Walsh of its effects. When Walsh proceeded to drive herself home from the hospital, she veered into oncoming traffic and hit a vehicle operated by Edward Davis. David was injured in the collision and sometime after brought a medical malpractice suit against South Nassau Hospital and Walsh’s treating physician. The basis for his suit was that his injuries were caused by the medical malpractice of the physician, namely his failure to warn Walsh of the effect the medication he had given to her could have on her ability to drive.
The lawsuit was dismissed by the trial and appellate courts and finally reached the New York State Court of Appeals.This court overturned the dismissals issued by the lower courts and found that a third party could sue for medical malpractice if the malpractice caused his or her injury.
While this is an important decision in the area of medical malpractice, not everyone is happy about it. Although the standard of care will not change, some organizations feel making medical providers liable for injuries to people they have no relationship with is unfair.
If you have been injured due to medical malpractice, you should discuss you claim with a lawyer right away. Contact a skilled New York medical malpractice attorney to evaluate your claim promptly.