Many instances of medical malpractice arise in the course of treatment for injuries that were initially caused by a separate tortuous incident, whether it be a car accident, premises accident, or intentional battery. In Maryland, under the “One Satisfaction” rule, a plaintiff cannot recover compensation for the same injuries from two separate negligent actors. See Underwood-Gary v. Matthews, 785 A.2d 708, 366 Md. 660 (2001). This means that if you are injured by a negligent driver in a car accident, and the subsequent negligence of a treating healthcare provider causes additional injury, you can only be compensated for your injuries once. This rule is meant to ensure that a plaintiff is not compensated more than once for the same injuries when there is more than one negligent actor. If you have ongoing auto negligence or premises liability lawsuit, and you suspect that the negligence of your healthcare providers caused additional injury, it is important that you litigate your initial tort claim carefully so as to preserve any potential medical malpractice claim.
The Court of Appeals’ decision in Gallagher v. Mercy Medical Center, (Md. 2019) shows how the failure to carefully litigate and resolve an auto negligence claim can undermine any potential related medical malpractice claim. In Gallagher, a woman was seriously injured by a negligent driver and sought compensation from that driver’s liability carrier as well as her own uninsured/underinsured carrier. Two to three years after the automobile accident, the Plaintiff received two reconstructive surgeries at Mercy Medical Center which resulted in complications, including an infection.
In the course of litigating her automobile negligence action, the Plaintiff’s healthcare providers testified that the surgeries at Mercy Medical Center were related to her car accident, and the Plaintiff confirmed in discovery that she was seeking compensation for all of her injuries related to the accident, including the injuries that resulted from the two surgeries. Roughly six years after the accident, the automobile negligence actions against both the negligent driver’s carrier and the plaintiff’s carrier had both settled. Thereafter, the plaintiff filed a medical malpractice action against Mercy Medical Center and the Court dismissed the claim under the “One Satisfaction” Rule. The Court of Appeals affirmed the lower Court’s dismissal, finding that the record showed that the settlement of the automobile negligence actions compensated the plaintiff for the injuries caused by Mercy’s medical malpractice. The Court found that regardless of whether the monetary amount of the settlement was sufficient to compensate the Plaintiff for all of her injuries, the plaintiff clearly asserted her injuries caused by the medical malpractice in the course of prosecuting the automobile action.
While the attorneys litigating the automobile claims likely had a strategic reason for incorporating her injuries arising out of the medical malpractice into the case, it clearly hindered the plaintiff’s ability to bring suit against her healthcare providers. The lesson from the Gallagher decision is that a car accident or premises liability action should be litigated carefully to preserve any potential medical malpractice claim. If you have a potential medical malpractice case arising out of a separate tort, the experienced lawyers at Cardaro & Peek can help you assert your claims effectively while also preserving your right to seek future compensation.
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Do you believe that you or your loved one has suffered as a result of medical malpractice or medical neglect? You need to talk to an experienced team of local lawyers today.
The lawyers at Cardaro & Peek, LLC have the experience and resources necessary to investigate and litigate all types of medical claims throughout Maryland and Washington D.C. Cardaro & Peek, LLC has medical personnel on staff and has access to nationally recognized, board-certified physicians and other experts, to assist in the investigation, analysis, and prosecution of all types of medical malpractice claims. If you or a loved one have experienced malpractice, give us a call at 410-752-6166. Please visit our website www.cardarolaw.com and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn for more information.