Court Discusses What Constitutes a “Medical Malpractice” Claim, Versus a Claim of Ordinary Negligence

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court of Texas decided the case of Galvan v. Memorial Hermann Hospital System, in which the court determined that the slip-and-fall accident that injured the plaintiff, although occurring at a hospital, was not subject to the expert requirement of medical malpractice lawsuits.

caution-wet-floor-sign-1-1444538The Facts of the Case

In the case, Galvan v. Memorial Hermann Hospital System, the plaintiff was a woman who slipped and fell outside her loved one’s room in the hospital. The written opinion of the court indicates that the plaintiff was headed from the hospital pharmacy to her relative’s room when she slipped on a puddle of water that had accumulated outside a bathroom door. The woman filed a slip-and-fall lawsuit against the hospital.

In a pre-trial motion, the hospital requested that the court dismiss the case due to the plaintiff’s failure to submit an expert report, as is statutorily mandated for all medical malpractice lawsuits. The plaintiff contended that the lawsuit was not one of medical malpractice, but of ordinary negligence, for which an expert is not required under state law.

The lower court sided with the plaintiff’s argument. However, the hospital appealed. The intermediate court hearing the case reversed, holding that the allegations present in the case were related to the hospital’s provision of medical care. Thus, the case was properly viewed as a medical malpractice lawsuit.

The State Supreme Court Reversed in Favor of the Plaintiff

The case was again reversed on appeal, this time in favor of the plaintiff. The state supreme court considered a previously decided case that presented a similar issue, and analyzed several factors:

  • Whether the injury occurred while the plaintiff was receiving medical care;
  • Whether the injury occurred while the defendant was providing medical care;
  • Whether the injury occurred while the defendant was protecting patients from harm;
  • Whether the alleged negligence implicated a violation of a professional duty;
  • Whether the allegations involved the use of any kind of medical device or instrumentality; and
  • Whether the alleged negligence was due to a failure to follow any government-issued safety requirement.

The court answered each of these, as well as several other factors, in the negative and ultimately determined that the case was not a medical malpractice case. Thus, it should not be subject to the heightened requirements of a medical malpractice lawsuit, including the expert requirement.

Medical Malpractice in Indiana

Similar to the laws in Texas, an Indiana medical malpractice plaintiff must present expert testimony in some cases. Generally, if the allegations are beyond the common understanding of a layperson, a court will require expert testimony. This means that, while experts are not required in every medical malpractice case, they are very common and can prove quite helpful to an accident victim’s case.

Have You Been the Victim of Medical Malpractice?

If you or a loved one has been injured while at a medical provider’s facility, regardless of the type of accident, there may be the option to obtain monetary compensation. The skilled personal injury advocates at the Indiana based law firm of Parr Richey Obremskey Frandsen & Patterson have the dedication and experience necessary to help you bring any kind of Indiana personal injury lawsuit. Call 888-765-7411 today to set up a free consultation.

Related Posts:

Icy Roads Cause Fatal Accident Near Gaston, Indiana, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, November 23, 2015

Court Held Patron “Assumed the Risk” When Injured at Haunted Attraction, Indiana Injury Lawyer Blog, December 1, 2015