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When can you sue a hospital for negligence?

By Rheingold Giuffra Ruffo Plotkin & Hellman LLP

When you go to the hospital, you expect the doctors and nurses to do everything in their power to give you the best care available. And, in general, hospitals do an incredible job saving lives, but accidents do happen; that’s understandable. What’s not understandable is when a patient is injured by negligence. When it happens to you, you may be filled with questions. How did this happen? Was there anything I could have done to prevent it? Can I bring a lawsuit against the hospital for medical expenses and pain and suffering?

Unfortunately, the answers to those questions depend on many factors and just because you feel you were injured doesn’t mean you are entitled to damages. So, how can you be sure you have a solid case? Here are a few litmus tests:

  • Did the alleged negligence leave you with a condition that requires ongoing medical care or does your injury impair your ability to lead a healthy life going forward? If you walk off unscathed, it may be difficult to prove damages.
  • Were there other factors or extenuating circumstances that could have influenced the end result? For instance, was your injury partially caused or exacerbated by a preexisting condition or unhealthy habit on your part?
  • How risky was the procedure? Patients often sign a consent form that outlines the risks involved in the care they are receiving. If the injury falls within those parameters, it may complicate the case.

Of course, none of these are deal breakers. An attorney can listen to your situation and may be able to help you get compensation for your injuries.

Source:, “Harmed in the hospital? Should you sue?,” Sabriya Rice, March 24, 2011

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