The “one-two punch” of sustaining injuries in a DC Beltway car wreck and then getting hurt worse as the result of medical error does not mean the innocent victim is “knocked out” of getting fair reimbursement for all of their harms and losses. Being the victim of a car crash and having to deal with the aftermath of recovery from injuries and seeking recovery against the unsafe driver is a horrible experience for anyone to go through. Unfortunately, many people are victimized a second time when they receive sub-standard medical treatment for their car crash injuries. In situations such as these, there are multiple negligent players at stake: the unsafe driver of the vehicle who caused the initial injuries and then the medical team who worsened those injuries or created new ones.
Individuals who suffer this “double injury” might face additional surgeries that should not have been necessary to begin with, significantly extended recovery times, loss of physical abilities, and a host of other ill effects. The question is who pays for all of this? Is it the Defendant driver whose unsafe actions necessitated the medical treatment in the first place? Is it the doctor or hospital that operated on the wrong leg or did not appropriately cast the broken bones? And, should the injured victim really be the one to have to try to figure out which portion of the medical expenses each party is responsible for?
Although the laws differ somewhat from state-to-state, often, the answer in Virginia is that the unsafe driver pays. That may seem odd, given that the unsafe driver seemingly did not have anything to do with how the doctor and medical staff performed their jobs. But, it makes sense if you understand a little bit about how negligence cases work. In tomorrow’s post we will look at how a subsequent injury at a drive up “doc in a box” emergency facility is viewed by the courts.