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Joint Liability of Healthcare Providers

Written by Daniel B. Brill

When medical malpractice occurs, there are typically many health care providers involved.  Some may be at fault, and some may not be.  When a loved one is injured or dies from medical negligence, it can be challenging to figure out who the at-fault persons are.

There are many examples of when multiple providers are negligent.  For instance, a surgeon may lacerate an artery causing internal bleeding that the step-down nurse fails to notice because she didn’t monitor the patient at the appropriate intervals.  The patient eventually loses so much blood that they die.  In that case, the surgeon could be negligent for substandard surgical work and the nurse could be negligent for not monitoring the patient.  How does this translate in a medical malpractice lawsuit?

When you sue multiple wrongdoers, Connecticut law has a rule known as proportional recovery.  At trial the jury will decide which defendant(s) were negligent and caused the injury/death.  If the jury finds more than one defendant at fault, they are asked to assign a percentage of fault to each defendant.  In the example above, the jury might find the surgeon 70% negligent and the nurse 30% negligent.  The court then apportions the verdict amount by each wrongdoer’s percentage of fault.  If the verdict was for $1,000,000, then the surgeon would be responsible for $700,000 and the nurse would be responsible for $300,000.  The proportional recovery rule applies to settled-out defendants as well.  Even if you settled with the nurse pre-trial; the jury would still be allowed to assign a percentage of fault to her.

Many cases settle before trial.  In those cases, the parties negotiate how much each defendant will contribute to the settlement.  These discussions center on the same idea as the jury’s apportionment.  Whoever will most likely be found by the jury as the primary wrongdoer will usually be expected to contribute the most to a settlement.  This is a highly case-specific process.

Speak with a Skilled Lawyer About Your Potential Case

Deciding who should be sued, determining who is at fault, and figuring out how much each negligent party will pay are all complex tasks.  That is why hiring an experienced medical malpractice lawyer is essential to maximizing your chances of suing the right people and getting the most out of a settlement. To learn more about how an experienced attorney at Berkowitz Hanna can help you get the compensation you deserve for injuries caused by malpractice, give us a call today.