Can More than One Doctor Be Liable in a Medical Malpractice Claim?
While some medical malpractice claims only involve allegations against one doctor, some cases involve mistakes made by more than one doctor. This means that medical malpractice cases can involve multiple parties. Many medical patients are treated by teams of medical professionals. There might be several doctors, clinics, laboratories, and hospitals involved in a patient’s health care. When malpractice occurs, it might involve multiple health care professionals who can be liable in a claim. The attorneys at Raynes & Lawn can work to identify all of the parties involved in a medical error that caused your injuries and harm.
Expected Standard of Care
Doctors and other health care professionals are expected to provide treatment that meets the accepted standard of care. This means that they must provide treatment that reasonably competent medical professionals with the same degree of skill and education would provide under similar circumstances. When multiple doctors are involved, each doctor’s actions will be examined to determine whether the doctor provided substandard care. In some cases, more than one doctor will provide substandard care and be liable for medical malpractice.
Defendants to Name in a Medical Malpractice Suit
All of the parties who were involved in providing care can be named in a medical malpractice claim. The defendants might include the hospital where the treatment was performed or that employed the medical professional, the doctors, lab technicians, radiologists, nurses, specialists, anesthesiologists, and others. Who you should name as a defendant in your medical malpractice case will depend on the situation and what happened in your case. Your lawyer can help you to identify all of the parties who should be named as defendants in your lawsuit.
If multiple parties were at fault, an attorney will determine liability according to whether each person performed his or her duties up to the expected standard of care. Under 42 Pa.C.S. § 7102, each party found to be negligent and to have contributed to the patient’s injury will be responsible for his or her percentage of fault as determined by the factfinder. This makes it important for each negligent party to be identified so that you can recover all of the damages to which you should be entitled.
Proper Service of Process
If you have a medical malpractice case involving multiple defendants, it is important to serve each defendant to your lawsuit. The defendants all have the right to receive formal service of your civil complaint and respond to it. When there are several defendants, you will have to ensure that each one is separately and properly served. Even if two doctors you are suing are within the same practice group, you must serve each one separately.
Rules Before Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Before you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit, you will have to work with a medical expert to review your medical records and determine whether the doctors’ treatment fell below the standard of care. Pennsylvania requires plaintiffs or their attorneys to file certificates of merit together with the civil complaints or within 60 days of when the lawsuits are filed. A certificate of merit is a signed attestation that a medical expert has reviewed the medical records and believes that the treatment provided fell below the accepted standard of care for the practice field and area in which the treatment was provided. This means that your lawyer will need to complete a pre-suit investigation before filing your complaint.
How Medical Malpractice Is Proven When Multiple Parties Are Involved
If you believe that more than one doctor or health care professional committed medical malpractice, you will have to prove the role each party played in making the error that caused your injuries and harm. Some of the things you can do to determine the actions each party took include the following:
- Depose each party involved in your care.
- Request discovery of your treatment records to determine who did what during your care.
- Submit written interrogatories for each party to answer about your care and their roles in its provision.
- Examine your medical bills to determine the organizations and individuals who submitted bills for different services.
- Hire experts to examine the treatment you received.
- Ask medical experts to testify about the standard of care and how each professional’s treatment compared to it.
When more than one party was involved in making medical mistakes and injuring you, you can name multiple defendants in your lawsuit to hold all of those responsible accountable for their actions or inactions. If multiple defendants are involved, you can individually settle the claims against some or all of the defendants or take all or some of them to trial. In some cases, a medical malpractice case involving multiple defendants might settle some of the claims and go to trial against the remaining defendants. However, most medical malpractice claims are settled before a trial occurs.
If multiple doctors committed medical malpractice, you will be required to prove the elements of malpractice against each doctor individually. Even if you know that medical malpractice occurred, you will have to prove that each doctor was individually negligent in the provision of your care to prevail.
You will need to present evidence and facts as they relate to the actions or inactions of each individual involved. The jury will consider the individual actions of each defendant and determine the percentage of fault each held. The parties will then only be responsible for paying the percentage the jury attributes to them if you succeed on your claim. Under Pennsylvania’s comparative negligence law, each negligent party is only responsible for the degree of fault he or she held, making it important for you to identify and name every defendant who was at fault in your case.
Get Help from a Philadelphia Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you believe that several doctors and other medical professionals made mistakes and injured you, you should reach out to the experienced medical malpractice lawyers at Raynes & Lawn. Call us today to request a free consultation at 1-800-535-1797.
For the general public: This Blog/Website is made available by the law firm publisher, Raynes & Lawn, for educational purposes. It provides general information and a general understanding of the law but does not provide specific legal advice. By using this site, commenting on posts, or sending inquiries through the site or contact email, you confirm that there is no attorney-client relationship between you and the Blog/Website publisher. The Blog/Website should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney in your jurisdiction.
For attorneys: This Blog/Website is informational in nature and is not a substitute for legal research or a consultation on specific matters pertaining to your clients. Due to the dynamic nature of legal doctrines, what might be accurate one day may be inaccurate the next. As such, the contents of this blog must not be relied upon as a basis for arguments to a court or for your advice to clients without, again, further research or a consultation with our professionals.