Court Determines Physicians Have a Duty to Third Parties to Warn Patient of Potential Effects Medication May Have on Their Driving

Earlier this month, a New York appellate court handed down an interesting decision regarding the duty physicians have to warn their patients that the medication they are providing them may affect their driving. Ultimately, the court determined that physicians do have a duty to those people other than the patient to warn the patient that the medication they were just administered could affect their driving.

The Facts of the Case

In the case, Davis v. South Nassau Communities Hospital, the plaintiff was a bus driver who was injured when another vehicle crossed a double-yellow line and collided with the plaintiff’s bus. That other driver was allegedly under the influence of narcotic medication that she was given while at the defendant hospital. The injured bus driver filed suit against the treating physicians as well as the hospital employing them.

At trial, the defendants asked the court for early dismissal, arguing that because they did not owe a duty to the third-party plaintiff they could not ultimately be held liable. The lower courts agreed and dismissed the case.

On appeal, the court was asked to answer the question of “whether third party liability can attach when a hospital administered drugs to a patient and then released her, in an impaired state, without any warning that the drugs affected or could have affected her ability to safely operate a motor vehicle.”

The court determined that, under the facts presented, the hospital and physicians did have a duty to third-party plaintiffs, and early dismissal was inappropriate. The court noted that, having just treated the patient, the defendants were the only ones who could warn her that the medication she had just ingested would likely affect her driving. That being the case, discharging the patient without adequate warning “create[d] a peril affecting every motorist in [the patient’s] vicinity.”

While this case arose under New York law, the principles underlying the cause of action are nearly universal across the country, including in Maryland. All personal injury plaintiffs must establish that they were owed a duty of care by the defendant in order to make it past the early stages of a proceeding. This case more broadly interprets the duty of prescribing physicians, and it may allow for accident victims to more easily recover damages for their injuries.

Have You Been Injured in a Maryland or Washington, D.C. Car Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been involved in any kind of Maryland or Washington, D.C. DUI accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation based on another party’s negligence. However, the laws in this area are far from set in stone and are often subject to interpretation. Therefore, it is incredibly important to the viability of your case that you speak with a dedicated personal injury attorney to go over the facts giving rise to your injuries. Call 410-654-3600 today to set up a free consultation. Calling is free and will not result in any obligation on your part unless we are able to help you recover damages for your injuries.

More Blog Posts:

New Research Suggests Amateur Athletes May Also Be at Risk for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, December 17, 2015

Ski Injury Plaintiff’s Case Dismissed for Lack of Causation, a Critical Element in Any Negligence Case, Washington DC Injury Lawyer Blog, December 10, 2015

Contact Information