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Can More than One Doctor Be Liable in a Medical Malpractice Claim?

More than one doctor can be liable for medical malpractice. Today’s medical care often involves team care. There may be multiple hospitals, doctor’s offices, laboratory services, and clinics that are involved in health care services for one patient. When medical malpractice occurs, it can involve more than one doctor. Can more than one doctor be liable for medical malpractice? Our Miami medical malpractice attorneys explain.

Can More Than One Doctor Be Liable in a Medical Malpractice Claim?

Yes, more than one doctor can be liable in a medical malpractice claim. A medical malpractice claim can involve one doctor or many health care professionals. The legal standard is whether the actions of each individual doctor fall below basic levels of acceptable care. While you have to prove the case against each doctor individually, yes, more than one doctor can be liable in a medical malpractice claim.

Doctors Walking to Consultation

Who Can Be Named in a Malpractice Case?

Who can be named in a malpractice case is any person who is involved in providing care. The professional organization that employs the care provider can be named in a malpractice case, too. Any doctor, physician’s assistant, laboratory professional, nurse, or specialist can be named in a malpractice case.

The question is who is responsible for the malpractice and who may have been responsible for hiring, training, or overseeing that person. Who can be named in a malpractice case is the person who is responsible, directly or indirectly, for committing malpractice.

Can More Than One Doctor Be Liable?

Yes, more than one doctor can be liable for medical malpractice. The question is not who is the most liable, but whether each individual performed their tasks up to professional standards. A doctor isn’t necessarily responsible for the actions of another doctor just because they co-manage care or because they’re in the same practice group. However, if both of their actions are negligent in some way, more than one doctor can be liable for malpractice.

Medical Malpractice Multiple Defendants

When you have a medical malpractice case involving multiple defendants, service of process is an important question. Each defendant has a legal right to have formal service of the court paperwork. In other words, they have the right to know that there is a legal proceeding against them. If there are multiple defendants, you have to notify each defendant separately. Even if two doctors are in the same practice, the rules of procedure require you to notify each one independently.

Florida Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 1.070(j) says that a defendant must be served within 120 days of a complaint being filed.[1] If each defendant isn’t served within 120 days, the court may dismiss the case without prejudice. Florida Rules of Civil Procedure 1.070(c) says that when there is more than one defendant, the clerk of court shall issue writs of process against the several defendants. As the plaintiff, it’s up to you to inform the court clerk of how many writs you need and who they should be issued to.

Multiple Doctors in Medical Malpractice and Pre-Suit Investigation

Florida law 766.203 applies to medical malpractice cases involving multiple doctors.[2] To initiate a medical malpractice case, you must conduct a pre-suit investigation to verify that malpractice has occurred in your case. The way that Florida Statutes 766.203 is written, the investigation needs to determine that there was medical negligence against any party named in the lawsuit.

A victim who pursues a medical malpractice case against multiple doctors should be prepared to comply with the requirements of 766.203 while keeping in mind that the law calls for corroboration against any defendant and not necessarily every defendant at the beginning of the case.

Proving Medical Malpractice Involving More Than One Doctor

When you suspect medical malpractice involving more than one doctor, you have the task of proving the actions of each doctor. Here are some of the actions that you can take to prove your case:

  • Depositions for each person involved in the care
  • Discovery of records from care to determine who took what actions
  • Submission of written questions that each party has to admit or deny in advance of trial
  • Examination of billing to determine the identities of persons and organizations submitting bills for specific services
  • Assistance from additional medical experts who can examine the course of treatment that you receive
  • Testimony from medical experts about the appropriate standard of care and how it compares to the actions of each professional

Bringing the claim against more than one doctor allows you to hold everyone accountable who is involved in malpractice. You have the option to settle individually with each party. You may choose to accept or reject each settlement. It’s possible to reach a settlement with one party and go to trial with another party. However, most medical malpractice cases result in settlement.

Medical Malpractice Multiple Doctors

Remember, when you have medical malpractice with multiple doctors, you must prove the case against each doctor individually. Even if it’s clear that medical malpractice somehow happened, to win your case, you’re going to need to prove that each doctor, personally, committed malpractice.

It’s important to keep in mind that you need to present the facts as they pertain to each individual doctor. The jury considers the actions of each doctor, and they return individual verdicts. Be sure to build your case as it relates to every party to ensure that your claim is successful.

Medical Malpractice Against Two Doctors

While you have to prove the case against each doctor when there is medical malpractice against two doctors, joint and several liability may still apply. Joint and several liability is the idea that even though the doctors may have varying degrees of responsibility for medical malpractice, they may still be eligible to pay the entire judgment. It’s important to know whether the parties are jointly liable, and keep it in mind as you take steps to collect your judgment.

Our Miami Medical Malpractice Attorneys Can Help You Bring a Claim Against Multiple Doctors

Call our attorneys for medical malpractice for a complimentary review of your case. At Bernstein & Maryanoff, we know what challenges to be aware of when pursuing a case against multiple doctors, and we can help navigate those challenges in your best interest. Call us to schedule your consultation. There is no fee unless you win.

Sources

[1] Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.070

[2] FLA. STAT. § 766.203 (2019)

About the Author

Jack G. Bernstein, ESQ.

Jack Bernstein is a hard working and highly motivated personal injury attorney in Miami, Florida with over three decades of experience. He is a strategist and idea person, with a genuine passion for helping his firm’s clients. If you've been injured, contact Jack Bernstein today for a free evaluation of your case.

The information contained herein is intended for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Seek competent legal counsel for advice on any legal matter.