As discussed in a prior article, hospitals and doctors enjoy certain defenses in medical malpractice lawsuits. Most of these defenses center on the nature of medical malpractice cases. This article will continue that discussion on the remaining major defenses.
Some states have “Good Samaritan” laws. These laws basically shield individuals from liability when they try to help people who are injured or in medical distress. Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals are generally included in these laws as specifically covered by the liability shield. Now, this does not mean that if you are choking in a restaurant that a doctor has carte blanch authority to do whatever they want. Doctors still owe you a duty to do their best under the circumstances and to give you effective care. The shield only protects them if something goes wrong despite giving it their best.
When you overcome those initial defenses, the opposing doctor can raise general “negligence” defenses. This basically means that the doctor will attack the various points in your argument. For example, you must prove that the doctor’s actions resulted in your injuries. The doctor may try to argue that you had an involuntary twitch which resulted in the scalpel slipping or some other explanation. The doctor may also argue that, despite your injury, she did everything that she reasonably could in the situation. Doctors are held to “standards” in their profession. So if a doctor meets those standards while treating you and you were harmed anyway, then that was beyond the doctor’s power to control.
Another defense that is less common is known as “contributory negligence.” A doctor raises this defense by arguing that you contributed to your own injury, and therefore she should not be held liable for your injuries. This probably will not occur if you are injured due to a surgical error or misdiagnosis. However, a very common example occurs when you accidentally take the incorrect prescriptions.
If you were injured as a result of one of these errors, then you may want to speak with a lawyer. Hospitals, doctors, and nurses do commit errors. It is an inevitable part of being human. Unfortunately, those errors sometimes result in serious injuries to patients.