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Who Can Be Liable in Medical Malpractice Cases?


Medical malpractice is when a healthcare provider deviates from the recognized "standard of care" in the medical community, leading to harm or injury to a patient. This deviation can occur through negligence, such as an incorrect diagnosis, improper treatment, or surgical error. Essentially, medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional fails to perform their duties competently or does not provide care at a level that another professional with similar training and expertise would reasonably offer under the same circumstances. It is a breach of duty owed to the patient.

Understanding liability in medical malpractice cases is crucial for individuals who have suffered harm due to medical negligence. Knowing who can be held accountable, whether the healthcare provider, hospital, or another party, is essential for seeking compensation for damages incurred. By understanding liability, individuals can navigate the legal process more effectively and work to hold responsible parties accountable for their actions. This understanding empowers patients to take legal action to recover damages.

Having a personal injury lawyer assist with a medical malpractice case is invaluable. They can conduct thorough investigations, gather evidence, consult with medical experts, and negotiate with insurance companies on behalf of their clients. Additionally, a skilled attorney can provide guidance and support throughout the legal process, helping clients understand their rights and options.

Bertram & Graf, L.L.C. is here to help those in Kansas City seek the compensation they deserve. Contact us today at (888) 398-2277.

Primary Parties in Medical Malpractice Cases

Regarding medical malpractice cases, it’s imperative to grasp the roles of various healthcare providers and facilities involved. Missouri Revised Statutes § 383.100 defines who qualifies as a healthcare provider, encompassing a broad spectrum of professionals and establishments. This understanding is crucial as it directly impacts the ability to file a claim for damages incurred.

Healthcare providers include the following:

  • Healthcare professionals:
    • Physicians
    • Dentists
    • Pharmacists
    • Optometrists
    • Registered Nurses
    • Chiropractors
    • Anesthetists
  • Healthcare facilities:
    • Hospitals
    • Nursing homes
    • Extended care facilities

Identifying the responsible parties is vital, as multiple individuals or entities may share liability for the harm caused. Under Missouri Revised Statutes § 537.067, the degree of fault attributed to each defendant determines their liability. Suppose a defendant is found to be 51% or more at fault. In that case, they can be held jointly and severally liable for the total amount of the judgment against all defendants. Conversely, suppose a defendant is less than 50% responsible. In that case, they are only responsible for damages proportionate to their degree of fault.

Certain healthcare providers may have immunity from civil liability under Missouri Revised Statutes § 538.228. This immunity typically applies to licensed physicians providing medical treatment at public health departments or nonprofit health centers when services are rendered for free. However, immunity does not shield providers from liability in cases involving gross negligence or willful or wanton acts.

Factors Influencing Liability

Negligence is a fundamental concept, representing conduct that falls below the standard of care expected from a reasonable person in similar circumstances.

In medical malpractice cases, negligence encompasses several key elements:

  • Duty owed to the patient: Healthcare providers are legally obligated to provide care consistent with accepted medical standards.
  • Breach of duty: A healthcare provider fails to fulfill their duty of care to the patient, such as through misdiagnosis, surgical errors, or medication mistakes.
  • Foreseeability: Courts consider whether the harm resulting from the breach of duty was reasonably foreseeable.
  • Causation: A direct link must exist between the healthcare provider's breach of duty and the harm suffered by the patient.
  • Injury: The patient must have suffered some form of harm, whether physical, emotional, or financial, as a result of the healthcare provider's negligence.
  • Damages: Damages refer to the compensable losses incurred by the patient due to the healthcare provider's negligence, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Individuals and entities involved in the healthcare system may bear varying levels of responsibility for acts of malpractice. Healthcare professionals are typically held accountable for their actions or omissions that contribute to malpractice. Supervisors or managers may be liable if they fail to supervise subordinates adequately, leading to negligent acts or omissions. Employers, such as hospitals or healthcare facilities, may be held responsible for the actions of their employees if they fail to meet specific standards, including hiring qualified staff, providing adequate resources, and ensuring proper training and supervision.

Understanding Liability and Seeking Legal Counsel

Liability can extend to various individuals and entities involved in patient care. From healthcare professionals to healthcare facilities, determining liability is paramount for seeking just compensation for the damages victims suffer. By holding responsible parties accountable, victims can pursue the financial recourse necessary to cover medical expenses, lost wages, and other losses incurred due to negligence.

Personal injury attorneys can provide invaluable guidance, support, and representation throughout the process, facilitating fair treatment for victims and pursuing appropriate compensation for their suffering.

At Bertram & Graf, L.L.C., our team is here to advocate for our clients’ rights in Kansas City. Please call us at (888) 398-2277 or contact us online today.