Even if a doctor wasn’t present at the accident scene, they can still incur responsibility for the damages. Failing to inform a patient about their inability to drive upon release could potentially lead the patient to unknowingly put themselves and others in danger. It is a doctor’s responsibility to adequately explain to the patient about their current condition in order to keep their patient safe from harm. However, does this liability extend to the people who aren’t their patients?
The answer is more complex than you would think. Initially, they determined that medical professionals are only liable for the injuries their patients sustain. In a previous case, a New York court dismissed the claim against the doctor by the injured third party because liability extended only to the patient.
However, the case was later appealed, and the New York Court of Appeals rendered a different verdict. Since the doctor’s failure to warn the patient about their inability to drive created hazardous conditions for not only the patient but also the general public, the doctor’s error directly caused injuries to the third party. Therefore, the responsibility for the third party’s injuries falls on the doctor’s shoulders.
The ruling set a new precedent. If doctors fail to properly warn their patients of the ways that their condition or their medication can impair their ability to drive, then they are liable for more than just their patient’s injuries. If the accident caused harm to other individuals, the doctor would be held liable for those damages as well.
It is important to note that the verdict does not require doctors and other medical professionals to do anything extra. It is already their duty to thoroughly inform their patients of their current condition and any adverse effects their current medications may create. The ruling only affects what doctors would be liable for in the event that they fail to fulfill this duty.