No one in Houston wants to experience the death of a loved one, particularly during the holiday season. Unfortunately, a wrongful death can occur at any time of the year. Whether it’s complications following surgery, a medication error or a failure to diagnose a health condition, when a loved one’s death is due to medical malpractice, that person’s loved ones may wonder who they can hold responsible. Of course, the first person the victim’s family may think of holding liable for their loved one’s death is the physician that committed the error. However, there may be other potential defendants as well.
For example, it may be possible to hold the health care facility where the physician worked responsible via the concept of “vicarious” liability. When a health care facility hires individuals, it needs to examine the individual’s education and licensing. A failure to make a complete inquiry could result in negligent supervision or retention, which could make the hospital liable for an employee’s negligence.
A health care facility could also be held liable for an employee’s malpractice through the concept of “respondeat superior.” Under respondeat superior, the employer is held responsible for its employee’s negligent actions if the employee committed the negligent acts within the scope of their employment. Keep in mind that if a physician is an independent contractor, rather than an employee of the health care facility, respondeat superior will not apply.
As you can see, while it may be possible to hold the health care facility where the negligent physician worked liable for malpractice, it is a complicated endeavor. Therefore, those who believe they have a claim for medical malpractice may want to seek the help of an attorney who can examine the facts of their case and determine which laws apply.
Source: FindLaw, “Medical Malpractice: Who Can Be Sued?,” Accessed Dec. 18, 2016