Can I Claim for Medical Negligence if my Injuries Get Worse?

Sometimes people hurt in a car or truck accident are then hurt even worse at the hospital. The doctor or hospital that treats the injury may not treat the injury properly or make a mistake that causes the injury to be worse or even cause a new injury or death.

Subsequent medical malpractice does not let the person who caused the original injury of the hook. In fact, under Missouri law the company or person that caused the original injury (such as the driver that caused a car accident) is responsible for any additional injuries to the victim as the result of medical negligence. Assuming that that the medical negligence occurred while treating injuries caused in the original accident.

“[Defendants] are liable to plaintiff Hemphill for the damages arising from both the original injury (throwing the ruler and injuring one eye) and the subsequent injury caused by [doctor’s] malpractice (loss of the uninjured eye) resulting in total blindness . . . The reason being that the action of the initial tortfeasor [defendants] is deemed to be the proximate cause of the aggravation, and the subsequent negligent medical treatment is not considered to be an insulating, intervening cause.”  State ex rel. Tarrasch v. Crow, 622 S.W.2d 928 (Mo. banc. 1981)

In short, what the courts say is that if you hurt someone, it is foreseeable that their medical care providers may make mistakes. Therefore, medical mistakes do not negate the claim by the injured person against the original defendant that caused the injury which forced them to go to the doctor or hospital in the first place.

Missouri court shave been ruling this was since as early as 1921, in Staehlin v. Hochdoerfer, 235 S.W. 1060 (Mo. 1921) defendant’s neglect caused an employee to break his leg. The employee was then negligently treated by a physician, that resulted in his leg being amputated. The Court held the original tortfeasor liable for the entire injury stating: the plaintiff “[w]as entitled, to recover damages not only for the original injury which consisted of a broken leg but of the loss of the leg itself, as a part of the immediate and direct damages which naturally flowed from the original injury, notwithstanding such loss resulting from the mistakes or want of skill of his physician, the defendant in this case.”

This is likely the law in most states, as the Restatement (Second) of Torts, § 443 states as follows: “The intervention of a force which is a normal consequence of a situation created by the actor’s negligent conduct is not a superseding cause of harm which such conduct has been a substantial factor in bringing about.”

What does this mean to someone hurt in an accident?

The most important thing for anyone hurt in a car accident or other type of accident is to first and foremost take care of their injuries. Even if the doctors do not pursue the appropriate type or level of treatment the person who caused the accident and injured you will be responsible for all the harms you suffer. Therefore, it is not a defense to an injury claim that the doctors do not treat the injured person fast enough or well enough. I believe this is my clients comfort that they pursue medical treatment that they feel is the best for them and not worry whether or not it is good for a legal case.

We advise most of our clients to seek whatever medical treatment they feel is best for them and what they are most comfortable with. We are always ready willing and able to recommend doctors or other health care providers. Additionally, if insurance or paying for your medical care is a concern we can help with that.

Contact our lawyers now at 314-863-0500 or contact our St. Louis lawyers online.