Third-Party Liability in Washington D.C. Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

Washington, D.C. and Maryland doctors who negligently treat a patient may face liability for a patient’s injuries caused by their negligence. Courts will hear and rule on medical malpractice lawsuits as long as the injury victim meets specific threshold requirements. Washington, D.C. medical malpractice victims must show that they had a medical professional-patient relationship with the provider. The victim must then prove that the medical professional was negligent in the diagnosis or treatment of their condition. Further, the patient must prove that it is “more likely than not” that the medical professional’s negligence caused their injuries. Finally, patients must show that they suffered physical, mental, or financial damages.

Proving the first element of a Washington, D.C. medical malpractice lawsuit is straightforward when there is a doctor-patient relationship between the parties. In those cases, the law is clear that doctors who enter into a physician-patient relationship owe their patients specific duties. These duties include providing a certain level of care and reasonably informing their patients of their treatment. Challenges arise when the injury victim is a third-party and not the doctor’s actual patient.

For example, a state appellate court recently issued an opinion dealing with issues in third-party Washington, D.C. medical malpractice lawsuits. In that case, a man injured four people and killed one when he struck a horse-drawn carriage. About a year before the accident, the man visited an eye institute, and a doctor determined he was legally blind and should not drive. A few weeks before the crash, the man visited another doctor at the same facility, and the doctor told him that his vision was improving and that he could drive with some restrictions. The victims filed a lawsuit against the driver and were awarded a judgment that the man could not satisfy. The man filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the facility and assigned his claim and potential award to the plaintiffs in the car accident case against him. The medical facility moved to dismiss the case, arguing among other issues, that medical malpractice does not extend to third non-patient parties. In this case, the court found that although doctors may face third-party liability, it does not extend to situations where a doctor fails to warn a third-party about their patient’s driving risks.

Third-party medical malpractice lawsuits are typically challenging, and Washington, D.C. plaintiffs must be able to establish that the doctor was aware of a real and substantial risk to a third party and failed to alert them of the danger. The courts may evaluate things such as, the type of threat to third parties if they are not informed, the relationship between the parties, the extent of injuries a third party may suffer, and the doctor’s role to their patient’s care. In many cases, the third party needs to establish that the doctor specifically owed them a duty and not just to society at large.

Have You Been Injured as a Result of Washington, D.C. Medical Malpractice?

Washington, D.C. medical malpractice lawsuits require a thorough understanding of all applicable evidentiary and procedural rules. These cases are often complicated, and it is vital to retain a dedicated and experienced Washington, D.C. medical malpractice attorney. The lawyers at Lebowitz & Mzhen have the skills and experience necessary to succeed in even the most complex medical malpractice cases. Our attorneys have recovered millions of dollars on behalf of medical malpractice victims across Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. If you or a loved one has suffered injuries that were the direct result of a medical provider’s negligence, you should contact our firm at 800-654-1949 to schedule your free initial consultation.

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