When medical malpractice occurs, it is often at the hands of a physician or medical professional employed by a larger hospital or practice. Following an incident of medical malpractice, many potential plaintiffs in Georgia are interested in bringing legal action. One of the options available is to directly bring a claim against the physician who caused the accident and also sue the physician’s employer for allowing the malpractice to occur in the first place. When a plaintiff brings an action against someone’s employer in addition to the employee themselves, this claim is known as vicarious liability.
In a recent Georgia court decision, a plaintiff sued a defendant hospital for vicarious liability following a medical accident involving his wife. After giving birth, the plaintiff’s wife was treated by the two physicians who were the defendant’s employees. As a result of their actions, the woman suffered a catastrophic brain injury that led to her entering full cardiac arrest. Subsequently, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice claim, arguing that the defendant was vicariously liable for the actions of the doctors who treated his wife.
However, when filing his claim, the plaintiff only listed the hospital and one of the doctors who treated his wife as defendants, while the complaint itself only contained allegations against another doctor’s conduct who was not named as a defendant. In addition, the plaintiff did not bring any independent allegations of negligence against the hospital, just vicarious liability claims. Following the trial, the lower court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs. The defendants appealed and argued that the plaintiffs failed to properly present a claim for vicarious liability.
On appeal, the court had to consider whether the plaintiffs properly asserted their claim against the defendant. A plaintiff’s complaint sufficiently pleads a claim for vicarious liability in a medical malpractice suit, the court explained, by alleging that the hospital was vicariously liable for the negligence of the physicians who treated the patient and confirming that the doctors were employees of the hospital. According to the court, a plaintiff did not need to specifically name in their complaint each physician whose actions may have contributed to the harm. Because the plaintiff properly identified both doctors who treated his wife as agents and employees of the hospital at some point in the complaint, the court concluded that he properly asserted a claim for vicarious liability.
In Georgia, courts review vicarious liability cases involving medical malpractice using a concept called notice pleading. To sufficiently plead a claim of vicarious liability, plaintiffs must put defendants “on notice” by alleging in their complaint that the hospital or practice is responsible for the negligence of the physicians who were employees of the defendant when the incident occurred. Because these legal and procedural issues can often be extremely complex, it is crucial that potential plaintiffs hire an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure that their interests are properly represented.
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If you or someone you love has been recently injured due to a healthcare provider’s negligence, contact the attorneys at McAleer Law. Our talented lawyers will advocate tirelessly on your behalf and help you pursue the compensation you deserve. We handle all types of personal injury cases, including those involving Georgia car accidents, slip and falls, and incidents of medical malpractice. Contact our office today to schedule a free initial consultation at 404-622-5337.