Being bitten by a dog is often met with immediate treatment and concern, but many people who are scratched or bitten by cats each year fail to seek immediate medical treatment despite the dangers that lurk beneath the surface of the wound. Liability for a cat bite is typically the same as other injuries that occur in the home: the homeowner is typically responsible for accidents inside their home. Sometimes liability can shift, however, and the responsibility for damages to an injured person shift with it.
Medical malpractice occurs when a licensed healthcare provider fails to provide services up to the standard that they are required to meet. Essentially, if a doctor does not provide the care that meets or exceeds the level that other doctors in a similar situation would provide, he/she may be committing malpractice. This duty owed to patients does not stop as long as the patient is seeking treatment for the injury, and can even extend to other hospital staff such as nurses and orderlies. Though, the latter groups owe a different standard of care that reflects their level of expertise over a particular situation.
As one Michigan hospital is finding out, cat bites can be as serious as other types of injuries and must be treated as such or face litigation. In this case, a woman who was bitten by a friend’s cat sued for injuries from the treatment of the cat bite and is seeking approximately $75,000 in damages. She is alleging that the hospital was negligent in its treatment of the infected bite. After being bitten, the woman attempted to clean the wound herself, but it became infected at which point she sought help from the emergency room. She claims in her lawsuit that the hospital staff was negligent due to a mishandled MRI, failure to identify kidney and anemia issues, and inadequate discharge orders.
While the woman chose not to sue the homeowner (her sister-in-law) for her injuries, it is possible that she will be brought into the lawsuit as well. The plaintiff may face some strong opposition and should be ready for the other side’s defense. The fact that she chose to treat the wound at home first, and only went to the hospital after it became infected may provide the hospital with a claim that she shares some responsibility for her injuries. This defense would be a form of contributory negligence, and serves to lessen any potential award by the percentage the plaintiff (or another person) is at fault. It is also possible that the hospital could allege that the homeowner shares in the liability for providing false information to the injured person about her pet.
Medical malpractice lawsuits can be very complex and involve numerous parties, especially if an entire hospital is being held accountable. Lawyers for the hospital, doctors, nursing staff, and insurance companies involved can all be working together against one injured plaintiff. In order to put forth the best case possible, you may need to seek legal counsel before you file your lawsuit. If you have questions about filing a lawsuit to recover damages after a healthcare provider’s professional negligence, call the Law Offices of Robert T. Edens, P.C today and talk to an experienced attorney about your situation.