When accident injury leads to medical malpractice, who is liable?

When another vehicle careened across the solid yellow line and slammed into your car, you may have said a quick prayer and hoped for the best as you heard a loud crash. The next thing you remember is waking up on a gurney in the back of an ambulance as rescue workers transported you to the nearest hospital for emergency treatment. Thankfully, they told you that your injuries were not life threatening even though you had lost consciousness for a little while upon impact in the collision.

The next few days probably consisted of medical visits, physical therapy appointments and perhaps, even surgery as doctors, nurses and others strove to help you recover from your injuries. The only problem is that things got worse instead of better. You knew something wasn't right when you started to feel pain and nausea not long after your surgery. You strongly suspect medical negligence as a causal factor in the infection or other subsequent injuries you suffered. Your question now is how to determine who is liable for your post-accident injuries?

One or more parties may bear legally responsibility

While a negligent motorist may be liable for the injuries you initially suffered in a motor vehicle collision, several other parties may also shoulder liability for injuries that occurred during the medical care and treatment following your accident. Some possibilities might be:

  • If a surgeon left a foreign object inside your body that resulted in severe infection and pain following post-accident surgery, you may have grounds for filing a medical malpractice claim against that particular physician.
  • The hospital that employs the surgeon may also qualify as a defendant in a medical malpractice claim because of various liability laws.
  • If you suffered illness or injury because a nurse gave you the wrong medication or an incorrect dose, he or she may also be held legally accountable for resulting complications.

Generally, any person who was negligent thus causing you to suffer additional injury or illness may assume some liability in a medical malpractice case, which would be separate from any personal injury claim filed in connection to the motor vehicle accident itself.

Recovering from a car accident can be a long, arduous process. The last thing you need is to suffer additional injuries because of substandard medical care. It's not as rare as you might think, however. That's why it's important to know your rights and where to seek support if a problem arises.