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Guy DiMartino Nov. 4, 2014

Indiana medical malpractice lawyer explains the times that a doctor can be held responsible when a third person is injured by the doctor's patient.

There are times when a doctor or hospital can be responsible for injuries to a third party. This is not a frequent occurrence but it does happen. I have been involved in two or so of these cases over the years. The typical scenario would be a patient of a doctor who is on medication or has a medical condition for which s/he shouldn't be driving and the doctor does not restrict the patient's driving privileges. The patient then goes out and crashes their car into somebody else because of the medication or medical condition.

The Indiana Court of Appeals recently looked at this issue in Manley v. Sherer. In this case, Dr. Sherer's patient had a medical condition for which she shouldn't have been driving and the plaintiff alleged that Dr. Sherer should have informed the patient of her inability to drive. Apparently, at the scene of the accident, Dr. Sherer's patient said “she should not have been driving because of her medical condition.” So the question is, does a third party like Manley who was injured by Dr. Sherer's patient – have a cause a case against Dr. Sherer. The Court of Appeals said that a third party may have a viable cause of action against a healthcare provider for medical malpractice if they can show the following:

To determine whether the defendant physician owed a duty of care to a third-party victim of a patient's misconduct, we consider three factors: (1) the relationship between the parties; (2) the reasonable foreseeability of harm to the person who was injured; and (3) public policy concerns. These three factors are used in a balancing approach, not as three distinct and necessary elements. The application of this balancing test is necessarily case-specific.

So in sum, an injured person may have a viable case against a doctor, hospital or other healthcare provider if they were injured by a patient depending on the specific facts of the case. You may be asking yourself, why couldn't the injured person just seek compensation for his/her injuries from the driver of the vehicle? This is a valid question and one that personal injury lawyers are confronted with all the time. The person injured in the car accident had some pretty bad injuries and it is my guess that the lady who hit her didn't have enough insurance proceeds to fully compensate the injury victim. The personal injury victim's lawyer(s) are doing everything in their power to get the appropriate compensation for their client.

Indiana personal injury and medical malpractice law can be complex. If you have any questions about a Northwest Indiana injury or medical malpractice claim, you can call one of our Michigan City personal injury attorneys at (219) 874-4878 or fill out the internet consultation form on the right.