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The Concept of ‘Respondeat Superior’ in Maryland Medical Malpractice Cases

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Medical malpractice claims are common in Maryland and throughout the United States. These claims are intended to hold negligent health care providers accountable for the harm that they cause. If you or someone close to you has been hurt due to a medical professional’s error or carelessness, we can help. At the Arfaa Law Group, our skilled Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys have years of experience helping clients seek the compensation they deserve for their harm.

Medical malpractice claims are not strictly limited to your physician. In fact, they can be brought against nurses, dentists, osteopaths, chiropractors, and virtually any other health care provider. In order to establish medical malpractice, the plaintiff must show that the health care provider failed to follow the standard of care that another health care provider in the same specialty would have followed under the same or similar circumstances.

In some cases, hospitals can be held liable for the negligence of their employees under the concept of respondeat superior, which translates to “let the master make the answer.” This concept means that a party is liable not for its own negligence but for the negligence of another party, typically in an employer/employee relationship. Put another way, under respondeat superior, an employer or principal may be held legally responsible for the misconduct of an employee if the misconduct took place within the scope of employment. For example, a hospital may be sued under the theory of respondeat superior if a nurse mistakenly administered a lethal dose of a medication to a patient.

In Maryland, the initial step in determining the liability of the hospital is determining whether an agency relationship exists. It can be shown to exist if there is agency, a principal, and an agent. These three requirements are set forth by the Second Restatement of Agency, which is adopted by Maryland. Agency refers to the fiduciary relationship that results from the consent of one party to another that the other shall act on their behalf and subject to their control. The person or entity for whom the action is taken is known as the principal. The person who is to act is known as the agent.

These laws are complex. But there is one key point that is important for every Maryland medical malpractice lawyer to remember. Releasing the employee releases the principal from liability. For example, a plaintiff cannot settle with a physician and then still pursue a medical malpractice claim against the hospital for the actions of the physician.

There are a number of legal theories that may be at play in your medical malpractice claim. With years of experience, our diligent Baltimore medical malpractice attorneys understand the nuances of this area of the law. You can rest assured that we will meticulously explore the facts of your case to determine each party that may be liable. We understand that lawsuits can seem daunting, which is why we are here to answer your questions and address your concerns at every step of the way. To get a free evaluation of your case, you can call 410-889-1850 or contact us online.

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