Many medical malpractice claims involve doctors as defendants, but hospitals sometimes absorb liability in malpractice claims as well. Some doctors are independent contractors who may work in several hospitals or clinics, but others are actual hospital employees. When a Missouri hospital employee causes harm to a patient, the injured patient may hire a Kansas City hospital malpractice attorney and sue the hospital for negligence. Hospitals incur liability for the negligent actions of employed doctors, nurses, therapists, paramedics, lab technicians, support staff, or even custodial workers. These cases often involve multiple defendants and can be difficult to win without reliable legal counsel.
Negligence in Missouri Hospitals
The determining factor in whether a hospital is liable for an incident of negligence is whether the negligent individual was an official employee of the hospital at the time the incident occurred. Doctors who operate as independent contractors will absorb liability for malpractice they commit regardless of where it occurs. In some cases, a hospital may be partially liable for the actions of a contracted doctor. In cases involving non-medical negligence leading to patient injuries, such as failure to fix broken lighting or placing wet floor signs where necessary, standard negligence laws apply.
Missouri state law does not place caps or limits on plaintiffs’ damages in medical malpractice cases involving multiple defendants. However, the court may assign liability for a patient’s damages to whichever defendant held the highest percentage of fault for those damages. For example, a medical malpractice claim in Kansas City may lead a jury to assign 70% of fault to a contracted doctor and the other 30% of fault to the hospital. Depending on the nature of the plaintiff’s damages and the employment arrangement between the doctor and the hospital, the court may require the doctor to pay 100% of the damages, or it may choose to split the damages based on fault percentage.
Depending on the nature of a plaintiff’s injuries and damages, different negligence laws may come into play. If a non-medical issue caused patient injury, the resulting lawsuit would fall under the purview of personal injury law and follow standard negligence laws. Generally, there are four elements to proving standard negligence:
- The plaintiff must prove that the defendant owed the plaintiff a duty of care in the given situation.
- The plaintiff must show how the defendant breached this duty of care.
- The plaintiff must show that his or her damages were the direct results of the defendant’s negligence.
- The plaintiff must prove that actual harm occurred, such as a documented injury or illness, or a measurable economic loss.
If a case of hospital negligence involved the medical treatment of a patient, proving negligence follows a different framework:
- The plaintiff must prove an official doctor-patient relationship existed between the plaintiff and the defendant.
- Next, the plaintiff must show the court how a defendant’s actions were negligent, or how another similarly skilled and competent doctor in the same situation would have acted differently.
- The plaintiff must prove that his or her damages were the direct results of the defendant’s negligence and versus another cause.
- Finally, the plaintiff must prove that actual harm occurred. Even if the defendant was negligent, if the plaintiff suffered no harm, he or she has no claim.
For additional information regarding proving negligence in hospital malpractice cases, consult a skilled Kansas City hospital malpractice attorney.
Free Legal Consultation with a Kansas City Hospital Malpractice Lawyer
Hospital negligence cases often involve multiple defendants and can be very difficult to win without reliable legal counsel. The attorneys at Dickerson Oxton, LLC in Kansas City, MO, are here to help. Contact our team today for more information about hospital negligence in Missouri or to discuss your claim. We offer free case evaluations to new clients, so meet with a Kansas City hospital malpractice attorney to learn more about your legal options.