What are the basics of vicarious liability?

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo & Plotkin LLP

Many times hospital negligence cases are not identified until years after the injury takes place. After so long, some patients may have a hard time identifying who the responsible party is or even if they have a medical malpractice case. It is important for patients that have suffered a loss at the hands of a doctor or facility to understand what vicarious liability means and how it may impact a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Vicarious liability is a legal term that describes the responsibility an employer has for the acts committed by their employee. Simply put, vicarious liability means that the hospital that employs a doctor who is the subject of a medical malpractice suit may also be held responsible. It essentially assigns liability to not only the doctor but also the facility that employs him or her.

The idea that a hospital may also be held responsible for the negligence of its staff is a legal doctrine called respondeat superior. In order for this to apply to a medical malpracticelawsuit, the acts which caused the loss or injury must have been done during the scope of employment. For a doctor, this means that while on the clock, performing a duty he or she was hired to do, or performing a duty that directly benefits their employer, they share the risk of medical malpractice with their employer. This may be of significant importance to victims of medical malpractice. Since many doctors have a maximum amount of compensation their medical malpractice insurance will pay to victims, knowing that their employer is equally responsible may help increase the compensation victims are awarded.

medical malpractice attorney can help identify responsible parties and hold them accountable using the rule of vicarious liability. With an attorney’s help victims of medical malpractice may be able to get the compensation they need to recover.

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