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What is vicarious liability in a medical malpractice claim?

When Pennsylvania residents are hurt due to medical error, they may take certain steps to recover compensation for their injuries and losses. A negligent doctor could be held liable for their actions through a medical malpractice claim filed by the injured patient or their loved ones. In these matters, accountability could be applied to more parties than just the medical worker who made an error. Through vicarious liability, other parties could be held liable for neglectful treatment.

What is vicarious liability in a medical malpractice claim? In simple terms, vicarious liability could be looked at like employer's liability. A hospital could be held liable if a doctor, nurse or medical staff make an error or are negligent, causing a patient to suffer.

Under the theory of "respondeat superior," the hospital that retained the doctor on its staff could be held liable if the doctor's negligence was the cause of injury to a patient.

When can a hospital be held vicariously liable in a medical malpractice claim? This generally occurs in three situations. First, the employee was on the job when the medical injury occurred. Second, the medical injury was caused by an activity that the employee was hired to perform by the employer. Lastly, the employer was able to benefit in some form from the activities performed by the employee at the time of the injury.

Because treating a patient falls within the scope of employment of a doctor, hospitals can be found liable in a medical malpractice suit. Due to this fact, patients that are injured by a negligent doctor or medical staff should understand hospital liability and their rights regarding a civil action.

Source: FindLaw, "Vicarious Liability," accessed March 9, 2015

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