While suing a doctor in a medical malpractice lawsuit is standard in New York, suing the hospital where it occurred is another matter. Many victims might not even consider the hospital as a potentially liable party after getting injured.
Fortunately, hospitals can be sued in a few situations in New York. Hospitals can be liable for negligence just as any medical professional can. If your injuries were caused by a doctor or other employee of the hospital, the hospital can usually be held accountable for their mistakes. However, a hospital can be solely responsible for your injuries if they were caused by the hospital’s failure to make the premises safe.
For a free case review with our dedicated Westchester personal injury attorneys, call The Martello Law Firm, PLLC today at (914) 685-6950.
Can I Sue a Hospital for Negligence in New York?
Victims of medical malpractice are probably aware that the doctor that treated them can be sued, but they might not know whether they can sue the hospital where they were treated. Fortunately, you can sue a hospital in New York if they contributed to or were directly responsible for your injuries. However, these cases are known for being extremely complex, and several requirements must be met before a hospital can be held accountable.
The most common reason for suing a hospital is because of medical malpractice on the part of a hospital employee. This is usually the doctor that treated the patient, but any medical professional that works for the hospital could be sued for negligence if they caused your injuries. Fortunately, our New York medical malpractice attorneys can investigate your case to determine each party that should be liable for your injuries. Hospitals are responsible for the actions of their employees while they are engaged in their normal work duties.
However, a hospital can only be sued for a doctor’s negligence if that doctor is an actual employee of the hospital. Hospitals are not responsible for doctors that work in private practice, even though they might work and treat patients in the hospital. Doctors in private practice are not hospital employees, so the rules mentioned above do not apply. In these situations, you can sue the physician for their negligence but not the hospital where the negligence occurred and usually not the private practice they work for. Private practices are designed to insulate the other doctors from liability due to another physician’s negligence.
Hospitals can also be sued for personal injuries caused by their negligence. Hospitals are responsible for their employees and the premises’ safety. If you are injured because the hospital failed to identify and address an unsafe condition on the premises, you can file a personal injury lawsuit.
Suing a Hospital for Medical Malpractice in New York
As mentioned, a hospital can usually be sued for malpractice caused by doctors and other healthcare providers if they are employed by the hospital. However, you will need to show that the physician that treated you actually committed malpractice.
To do this, several elements will need to be established to hold the healthcare provider and the hospital liable. First, a doctor-patient relationship must have existed. This usually means the doctor actually examined you, ordered tests, and provided medical opinions. If a doctor only briefly saw you or examined your chart, this might not be enough to establish a doctor-patient relationship. If there is a doctor-patient relationship, the doctor has a duty to provide you with competent care.
In medical malpractice lawsuits, the duty element is known as the “standard of care.” Physicians and other healthcare professionals are required to provide the same care that other professionals in that role and with similar experience and training would have provided in comparable circumstances. If the care you received fell below the standard of care normally provided, you will have satisfied this requirement. However, a medical expert will usually need to testify to show how your injuries were caused by this lack of care.
Suing a Hospital for Personal Injury in New York
Besides being a place to receive care, hospitals are also a business that is open to visitors as well as patients. Thus, the hospital is responsible for ensuring that the premises are safe and can be held liable in a personal injury lawsuit for premises liability if they fail to. Hospitals can be incredibly chaotic places with countless materials that could be left behind or spilled, leading to an injury. Hospitals have a duty to inspect the premises regularly for known and unknown dangers and address the issues they find.
This kind of negligence can take many forms. For instance, a person can easily suffer devastating injuries from a spill left on the ground that should have been discovered or warning signs placed around the area. Stairwells in the hospital might be poorly lit or not have adequate handrails. Hospitals are also responsible for the safety of the parking garages on the premises.
You will also need to prove several elements to establish that the hospital’s negligence caused your injuries. Like medical malpractice, you must show that the hospital owed you a duty of care. Since the hospital has a duty to keep the location safe, they typically have a duty to any visitors to the hospital. Next, you must prove that the hospital breached its duty of care. The breach of care is the actual act or omission that led to your injuries. For instance, if they failed to treat icy sidewalks outside the hospital and someone was injured, that failure would be the breach.
Third, you must show that the hospital’s breach of caused your injuries. Usually, this is done by showing that your injuries would not have happened but for the hospital’s negligence. If you have prior injuries, you will need evidence that shows that your current injuries were the result of the accident at the hospital.
Lastly, you will need to show that your injuries caused actual damages. The most common form of damages used to satisfy this element is your financial losses. This includes the medical costs of treating your injuries, wages you lost from time missed at work, and other costs stemming from your injuries. You can also show damages that are more subjective, like pain and suffering. If your injuries have caused emotional distress, physical pain, or other trauma, you can recover compensation for these losses in addition to your financial ones.
Our New York Medical Malpractice Attorneys Can Help
Contact The Martello Law Firm, PLLC at (914) 685-6950 for a free case evaluation with our New Rochelle personal injury lawyers.