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Detour – or straight path to civil justice – when accident victim’s care involves medical malpractice?

June 12, 2012

In the realm of torts and negligence law, it is commonly accepted and understood that a negligent, wrongdoing defendant (a/k/a the tortfeasor) should be held responsible for the civil damages and harm caused to the plaintiff (a/k/a the claimant). Kind of a straight path from A to B, the basic tenet of what we do in our representation of accident and injury victims. What happens, however, if a doctor or hospital commits malpractice while medically treating the victim? Still a straight path to civil justice? Actually, yes. But with an extra stop. We would go from A to B, and then back again to B. Maybe not what you were expecting, but it is eminently fair and is absolutely the right result. Here is the law in New York (right after “Defendant is also liable …”), as described in our state’s Pattern Jury Instructions:
PJI 2:305 Damages—Personal Injury—Subsequent Injury—Medical Malpractice
If you find that the defendant was negligent and that defendant’s negligence caused plaintiff’s injury, defendant is responsible for the injury and the pain and suffering caused by defendant’s negligence. Defendant is also liable for any aggravation of the injury and for any additional pain and suffering caused by any negligence or lack of skill of any doctor who treated the plaintiff for the original injury.

Even with a detour, civil justice should be served.

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