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Holding hospitals accountable for negligent birth injuries

After a mother or her child suffers serious injury during delivery, the family may have to deal with extra medical bills, not to mention the pain and suffering of the victim. When looking for justice, victims may be able to look beyond the physician or other staff member who allowed the birth injury to happen.

Doctors often work for the hospital where the negligent delivery took place. Though the hospital’s administrators were not in the room at the time, the facility may nevertheless be held responsible for the harm the victims suffered, under legal doctrines known as vicarious liability and “respondeat superior.”

Vicarious liability holds a third party indirectly responsible for another party’s negligence. In the context of medical malpractice, a hospital or other employer may be liable for a doctor’s error. Any employer can be potentially liable for an employee’s negligence under the respondeat superior doctrine.

The relationship between your negligent doctor and the hospital is key. If the physician is not a direct employee, vicarious liability is likely not an option. This means that doctors that work at the hospital as independent contractors cannot expose the hospital to liability for malpractice. The doctor can still be held personally responsible.

Determining whether an employer/employee relationship can be tricky, and the hospital will likely do what it can to evade responsibility or provide victims with less than total compensation. But an attorney with experience representing birth injury victims will know how to prove the exact nature of the doctor/hospital relationship.

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