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Medical malpractice and vicarious liability

Texans who are harmed by a medical professional oftentimes want to hold that individual accountable. After all, in many instances the harm caused to an innocent patient can be traced back the actions or inactions of a single individual. This is true in instances of a failure to diagnose, a surgical error and birth injuries. As we have discussed often on this blog, when this happens, a victim can pursue a medical malpractice claim in hopes of recovering compensation for his or her damages. But what happens when those damages are so significant that the medical professional responsible for the harm is unable to pay for the full extent of damage caused?

This is a real problem, which is why it is usually advised that a medical malpractice victim also name the medical professional's employer in the lawsuit utilizing the legal theory of vicarious liability. Under vicarious liability, an employer can be held accountable for the acts of its employee. In a medical malpractice context, this means that a hospital may also be held liable if its doctor acted negligently and caused harm to a patient.

Before vicarious liability can be imposed, though, certain legal elements must be proven. For example, it must be shown that the employee was acting within the scope of his or her job duties at the time of the incident in question. It also must be shown that the employer benefited in some way from the work being conducted. This is often demonstrated by showing that the employer was receiving a financial benefit, such as by charging for hospital services.

Vicarious liability claims against hospitals can allow a medical malpractice victim to more easily recover the full extent of his or her damages. However, negligence and causation still must be shown, which can be challenging on many fronts. Therefore, to ensure that one's legal claim is sufficient, thorough and aggressively presented, those affected by hospital negligence should consider working with a skilled legal team.

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