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Could You be Responsible for Medical Malpractice?

Could You be Responsible for Medical Malpractice?

By: Heath C. Murphy +Personal Injury

Car accidents are, unfortunately, a fairly common occurrence in Florida. Most people at one time or another during their life have been involved in an accident and many of us have actually caused an accident. When it comes to causing a car accident, most people would expect to pay for the damages to the other car, the medical bills of the injured party and lost wages. It may get a little sticky when the discussion turns to pain and suffering, but almost nobody would believe that they could be liable for the negligent actions of a doctor treating the injured party.

Nason v. Shafranski [1]

In 2010, the Second District Court of Appeals took on this very issue. Nason was injured by a negligent driver. Nason’s back was injured and he sought medical treatment. The medical doctor recommended a course of treatment which was followed by Nason. MRIs were taken and according to the medical doctor, the plaintiff had several disc herniation’s in the cervical and lumbar regions of the spine. The doctor then recommended epidural injection therapy in an attempt to manage Nason’s pain. Ultimately, the injection therapy proved ineffective.

The same doctor, who was a board certified neurological surgeon, recommended and performed discogram and nucleoplasty. A discogram is a procedure used by doctors to determine whether the pain experienced by the injured party is being caused by the disc. The nucleoplasty procedure entails the doctor removing a small amount of tissue from the nucleus of the disc and applying heat to the disc. This is done to “shrink” the disc and minimize the herniation. When these procedures did not resolve the back pain experienced by the plaintiff, the doctor recommended and removed two discs and performed two fusions. Unfortunately, the plaintiff’s condition worsened and was accompanied by frequent headaches and depression.

At the trial, the defendant presented an expert. The expert was, like Nason’s doctor, a board certified neurosurgeon. This expert opined that plaintiff’s injuries were not that severe and that he would have recommended rest. The Second District Court of Appeals held that the negligent driver who causes a car accident is liable for all reasonably foreseeable consequences of his actions. This includes complications which may arise in the treatment of the non-negligent injured person. Usually, there is a defense that the negligent acts of another act as an intervening cause to break the chain of causation. However, Florida has carved out an exception of medical negligence that occurs when treating the initial injury.

Yes, If You Cause an Accident, You Could be Liable for Malpractice

This is not exactly new or ground breaking, but most people would be surprised to learn that they could be liable for medical malpractice of a treating physician. Surprising or not, it has long been the law in Florida. In fact, it was almost 40 years ago when the Florida Supreme Court, in Stuart v. Hertz[2], analyzed the principal in the context of a car accident case and stated,

Where one who has suffered personal injuries by reason of the negligence of another exercises reasonable care in securing the services of a competent physician or surgeon, and in following his advice and instructions, and his injuries are thereafter aggravated or increased by the negligence, mistake, or lack of skill of such physician or surgeon, the law regards the negligence of the wrongdoer in causing the original injury as the proximate cause of the damages flowing from the subsequent negligent or unskillful treatment thereof, and holds him liable therefor.

Is the Doctor Responsible for the Malpractice, as Well?

This may seem obvious, but if I do not address this issue I will get a bunch of angry comments telling me that it is not fair that doctor gets away with malpractice while the driver pays for the doctor’s mistakes. Yes, the doctor can also be liable for the injuries caused by his/her negligence. Finally, if I am allowed to anticipate one more question. No, the injured party cannot collect twice for the same injuries.

Contact a St. Petersburg Car Accident Attorney at Jones Law Group

Have you or a loved one been injured in a car accident? Contact an experienced St. Petersburg personal injury law firm today. When you contact our office we will immediately set an appointment where you will meet your attorney and be provided with his/her personal contact information. If you do not have transportation or you cannot drive, your attorney will travel to meet you and discuss your case with you.

If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a slip and fall, a car accident, a motorcycle accident, a bicycle accident or a pedestrian accident, you should immediately call an experienced personal injury attorney in St. Petersburg at Jones Law Group at (727) 571-1333 during regular business hours or (727) 753-8657 on weekends or after regular business hours. We will evaluate your case for free and you will never pay us a dime unless we recover compensation for your injuries.

Jones Law Group
5622 Central Avenue
St. Pete, FL 33707



[1] https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=8211597205239335181&q=Nason+v.+Shafranski,+33+So.+3d+117+case&hl=en&as_sdt=40006

[2] https://scholar.google.com/scholar_case?case=934427284118139960&q=stuart+v.+hertz+case&hl=en&as_sdt=40006

Heath Murphy

About the Author

Heath Murphy is a partner at Jones Law Group and focuses on personal injury law. He has been working as a lawyer for 18 years and routinely writes about auto accidents, wrongful death, and personal injury laws.

Read more: Heath’s Bio