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Who Can Be Held Liable in a Medical Malpractice Claim?

Posted on May 26, 2023

Medical malpractice is something that no patient expects to encounter when receiving treatment at a hospital or health care center in Birmingham. Unfortunately, not all medical practitioners adhere to the required standards of care when treating their patients. If medical malpractice injures or kills a patient, multiple parties may be held liable for the resultant damages.

What Is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice refers to a licensed medical professional failing to use a reasonable or ordinary amount of care. If a doctor, nurse, surgeon, dentist, chiropractor or another type of health care practitioner falls short of the accepted standards of care within the medical industry when treating a patient, this is considered malpractice. If this type of tort results in injury or harm to a patient, a medical malpractice claim can be filed against the at-fault or liable party. This is a type of civil lawsuit that pursues financial compensation for the losses suffered by the victim.

Who Is Responsible for Medical Malpractice?

Determining who is responsible for medical malpractice is one of the first steps necessary to file a claim. Medical malpractice laws allow a victim in Alabama to name one or multiple accused parties, known as defendants, in an injury claim. Working with a Birmingham personal injury attorney, an investigation may need to be conducted to determine who or what caused your injury, illness or infection to determine the defendant. Many different health care providers could be held liable for medical malpractice, including:

  • The practitioner: if the individual doctor or practitioner fell short of the standards of care, he or she could be held independently responsible. Many physicians are independent contractors, not employees. This means they will be held liable separately from the hospital.
  • The hospital or medical center: if the person at fault was an employee at the time of the incident, the larger health care center or employer may be held vicariously liable. This could include a hospital, surgical center, birthing center, emergency room or another medical facility.
  • A pharmacy: if the harm was caused by a medication error made by the pharmacy, such as administering a drug to the wrong patient, the pharmacy could be held responsible.
  • A manufacturer: if a defective or dangerous medical device or piece of equipment caused the injury, the manufacturer or distributor could be held responsible with a product liability claim.

Common types of medical malpractice include surgical errors, medication mistakes, misdiagnoses, birth injuries and failures to treat. An investigation of the incident will try to pinpoint the tort to the medical professional(s) most at fault for causing the victim’s injury or death. This could be one or multiple parties, depending on the circumstances. Then, the victim or his or her attorney will need to prove the claim being made against the defendant(s).

How to Prove a Medical Malpractice Claim in Alabama

Proving a medical malpractice claim requires a preponderance of the evidence. This is the burden of proof in all personal injury cases, and it rests with the plaintiff or filing party. It means enough evidence to show that the defendant is more likely to be responsible for the harm in question than not. Establishing proof of medical malpractice requires clear and convincing evidence, which could include:

  • Medical records
  • X-rays and medical tests
  • Witness testimony
  • Patient depositions
  • Photo and video evidence
  • Health care provider policies
  • Medical experts

The evidence must show that the accused party owed the victim a standard of care, breached or failed to meet this standard, caused the patient’s injury, and that the victim suffered compensable damages as a result. A skilled Birmingham medical malpractice attorney can help a victim prove a complicated medical malpractice case in Alabama. For more information about filing this type of lawsuit, contact Drake Injury Lawyers for a free medical malpractice case consultation.