College athletes generally accept the risk that they may suffer injuries in a game. If an injured student receives incompetent medical care, their injuries may become exacerbated. Simply because a student waives the right to seek damages from a university for harm suffered while playing a sport does not mean they cannot pursue claims against a negligent health care provider that treats them after their injury, as demonstrated in a recent Maryland ruling. If you sustained injuries because of inadequate care you received in a hospital, you should consult a Maryland medical malpractice attorney to determine what claims you may be able to pursue.
Background of the Case
It is reported that the plaintiff played field hockey for the university she attended. During a game, she sustained a blow to the head. She subsequently sought treatment at a military primary care facility, where she was diagnosed with sinusitis. Her symptoms lingered, however, and she was eventually diagnosed with a concussion and post-concussive syndrome. She then filed a lawsuit naming the federal government as the defendant. In her complaint, she alleged that the doctor that treated her at the facility was negligent, and the government was vicariously liable for the harm caused by the doctor. The case proceeded to a bench trial.
The Court’s Findings
One of the primary issues at trial was whether the defendant could be held vicariously liable for the acts of the doctor that treated the plaintiff. The court noted that there was ample evidence that the treating physician breached the applicable standard of care and that the breach proximately caused the plaintiff’s harm. Specifically, he neglected to perform tests to determine if the plaintiff suffered a concussion or preclude her from playing in games or practice until her symptoms abated and his omissions proximately caused the plaintiff to suffer harm.
The court rejected the defendant’s assertion that the treating doctor was an agent of the university at the time of the plaintiff’s harm, as the parties did not consent to the establishment of a doctor-patient relationship, and the university did not control the treating doctor’s activities or job performance. As such, the waiver the plaintiff signed that released the university from liability for harm suffered while playing field hockey did not also release the treating physician. Further, the court found that the government could not escape liability for the treating physician’s negligence under a theory of borrowed servant. As such, the court found in favor of the plaintiff.
Talk to a Seasoned Maryland Attorney
People harmed by inadequate care in following a sports injury may be able to pursue medical malpractice claims against the provider that caused their harm. If you sustained losses because of the negligence of a doctor, you should talk to an attorney about your possible claims. The seasoned Maryland attorneys of Arfaa Law Group can advise you of your options and aid you in seeking any compensation available. You can contact us through our online form or by calling us at (410) 889-1850 to set up a conference.