Who is Responsible for Medical Malpractice During Car Accident Injury Treatment?
Many times after a car, motorcycle, or bicycle accident medical treatment is necessary to treat the injuries sustained. Unfortunately, we all know that we don’t live in a perfect world and sometimes during the course of the treatment, one of the doctor’s treating the injuries makes a mistake and worsens the patient’s physical condition sometimes adding to or creating life-altering injuries.
During the litigation of the automobile accident case, defense attorneys will often try to point the finger at the treating physician and assert that the driver of the striking motor vehicle is not responsible for the worsening condition and that in fact, it is a result of a medical malpractice. The finger-pointing game in litigation has now another hurdle to overcome.
How Medical Malpractice Relates to Car Accidents in Pennsylvania
In Pennsylvania, the original tortfeasor is responsible for any foreseeable consequences of their actions that are caused by subsequent tortfeasors which means in layman’s terms that the person who caused the original injury in the car accident would be responsible. If the medical provider violates a standard of care owed to the patient and causes the original injuries to be aggravated or creates new injuries that were not directly a result of the car accident, the case should be evaluated carefully to decide whether to sue the original tortfeasor, the subsequent tortfeasor or both.
Under the common law doctrine known as “eggshell plaintiff” and “approximate and foreseeable causation”, the original negligent party, i.e. the striking driver who may be found at fault during the motor vehicle accident can be held liable for all superseding negligent causes of actions of other individuals within the chain of action. In other words, the defendant may be held liable and at fault for injuries sustained during the car accident and may also liable for medical malpractice that occurs during the treatment of those injuries. Other parties may also be held partially liable for medical negligence during the treatment of injuries following the car accident.
The case of Boggavarapu v. Ponist, 518 Pa. 162, 542 A.2d 516 (1989) notes that under Pennsylvania law “it is settled that where one has suffered personal injuries by reason of the tortious act of another and exercises due care in securing the services of a doctor and his injuries are aggravated by the negligence of such doctor, the law regards the act of the original wrongdoer as the proximate cause of the damages flowing from the subsequent negligent medical treatment and holds him liable therefore.”
It is basic law school hornbook law that one is responsible for the consequences of his tort or negligent actions. Original tortfeasors are primarily liable for all that befalls the one that they injure in the hands of those whose treatment is required. If the treatment negligently exacerbates the original injury, both become tortfeasors and both must answer to each other in compensating the injured for the losses they inflict. As between the two offenders or tortfeasors, one may do more than the other and each must proportionately pay as a jury determines.
Labesco v. SEPTA, 380 A.2d 848 (Pa. Super 1977) holds a tortfeasor whose negligence is the legal cause of injury to plaintiff is also liable for the additional injury caused by the unskilled treatment that a plaintiff receives from a physician who plaintiff exercising ordinary care has selected.
The Philadelphia Car Accident Attorneys At The Reiff Law Firm Have the Experience to Handle Your Case
Under Pennsylvania law, “it is settled that where one has suffered personal injuries by reason of the tortious act of another who exercises due care in securing the services of a doctor and his injuries are aggravated by the negligence of such doctor, the law regards the act of the original wrongdoer as the proximate cause of the damages flowing from the subsequent negligent medical treatment and holds them liable therefore.”