Can a Doctor be Responsible for a Car Accident?
February 18, 2021 by Yale Spector
Even if a doctor was nowhere near the scene of the accident, they are held responsible for the damages. If a patient is released and not informed about his or her inability to drive, the patient could potentially put themselves and others in danger without knowing the risks involved. It is a doctor’s responsibility to adequately explain to the patient about their current condition in order to keep their patient safe from harm. However, does this liability extend to the people who aren’t their patients?
The answer is more complex than you would think. Initially, it was determined that medical professionals are only liable for the injuries that their patient sustains. In a previous case, a New York court dismissed the claim against the doctor by the injured third party because liability extended only to the patient.
However, the case was later appealed, and the New York Court of Appeals determined a different verdict. Since the lack of warning of the patient’s inability to drive led to hazardous conditions for not only the patient but the general public, the doctor’s error can be directly linked to the injuries of the third party. Therefore, the responsibility for the third party’s injuries falls on the doctor’s shoulders.
The ruling set a new precedent. If doctors fail to properly warn their patients of the ways that their condition or their medication can impair their ability to drive, then they are liable for more than just their patient’s injuries. If the accident caused harm to other individuals, the doctor would be held liable for those damages as well.
It is important to note that the verdict does not require doctors and other medical professionals to do anything extra. It is already their duty to thoroughly inform their patients of their current condition and any adverse effects their current medications may create. The ruling only affects what doctors would be liable for in the event that they fail to fulfill this duty.