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Vicarious liability in medical malpractice lawsuits

Medical errors can be costly. Victims are often left with a worsened medical condition that can be painful and expensive to treat. To make matters worse, these individuals are usually unable to work while they seek to recover their health, which means that they lack the financial means to cover their damages.

While a medical malpractice lawsuit against a negligent doctor or nurse may prove beneficial, the truth of the matter is that even these well-paid professionals may not have the financial resources to adequately compensate a medical malpractice victim.

This is why it is usually wise to consider filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against both the individual or individuals who committed the error and the hospital or other facility that employs them. Through a legal theory known as vicarious liability, employers can be held responsible for the acts or omissions of their employees so long as the negligent behavior occurred while within the scope of one's employment. Therefore, a hospital may also be liable for a failure to diagnose or a surgical error so long as the errant doctor was performing his or her job duties at the time.

Although a vicarious liability claim can allow a medical malpractice victim to reach into deeper pockets in hopes of covering all damages inflicted upon him or her, there are a number of defenses to these types of lawsuits. One of the most commonly raised defenses is that a negligent doctor was not really an employee of a hospital at all. Determining exactly where the line between an employer and independent contractor falls can be a subject open to legal argument.

So, while a vicarious liability lawsuit can be enormously beneficial, it can also be challenging. Hospitals are often represented by teams of experienced, knowledgeable and aggressive attorneys that know how to work the facts of a case and the law to their advantage. This is why medical malpractice victims should likewise consider acquiring the assistance of a skilled legal advocate who can help them protect their best interests.

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