When dealing with issues of medical negligence, claimants, plaintiffs, and potential filers often wonder who should be held liable. Medical organizations are rarely solo operations, and it's not uncommon for potentially liable parties to include doctors, nurses, technicians, pharmacists, and specialists. Some cases can span multiple hospitals, practices, and clinics, too. Who, exactly, should be the subject of your claim or lawsuit?
Look for Insurance
It may feel a little unsettling to think of the situation this way, but the reality is that you pursue your claim against whoever has the insurance to pay up. Individual doctors and practitioners often have their own insurance policies, but it's not uncommon for a larger organization to have its own insurance, too. This can be especially helpful in situations where liability points toward someone who potentially is either uninsured or underinsured, such as a medical technician.
Follow the Actions
Legal liability is almost always assigned based on the idea that an individual or an organization failed to take necessary steps to keep someone safe. For a medical negligence attorney, this often means looking at who was the proximate cause of an injury. For example, did a medical technician fail to remove a sponge from your body at the end of surgery? Did the hospital continue to supply its doctors with meshes that had been recalled?
In negligence cases, the goal is to draw a line from those actions or failures to the injuries that occurred. Once that has been established, a medical negligence attorney might move up the organizational chart to find who has the necessary insurance to pay out a claim.
Defining a Provider-Patient Relationship
Another factor is establishing that a medical services provider and a patient entered into a legally binding agreement. While signed documents always help, the law accounts for situations where clear agreements can't happen. For example, it's considered expeditious in an ER to bring the patient in and deal with their immediate problems before caring about paperwork.
This doesn't mean the attending doctors, nurses, technicians and specialists all get off the hook because they were being helpful. Instead, by putting themselves in that position, they take on provider-patient relationships until such time that the immediate medical issues are resolved. They then have a responsibility to either pass the patient off to another provider or to discharge them if the patient's condition is stable enough for them to go home.