Medical malpractice cases are typically more complicated than other civil lawsuits, due to the complexities of the nature of the plaintiff’s harm. Additionally, in some instances, the plaintiff will not only have pending claims against the negligent healthcare providers but also against a person or entity that caused an injury that required the allegedly inadequate medical treatment. In any matter in which a plaintiff is pursuing not only medical malpractice claims but also other civil claims arising out of a single injury, it is essential to understand how the resolution of one claim may affect the others.
This was discussed in a recent case decided by the Court of Special Appeals of Maryland, in which a plaintiff’s workers’ compensation provider sought reimbursement from a settlement in the plaintiff’s medical malpractice case. If you suffered an injury and were subsequently harmed by a negligent medical provider during the treatment of your injury, it is essential to retain an attorney who will fight to protect your rights.
Facts of the Case
It is reported that the plaintiff suffered an elbow injury at work, after which he sought treatment from a family practitioner who diagnosed him with a strain or sprain. He returned to work but continued to experience elbow pain. Five weeks later, however, he was diagnosed with a complete tear of his bicep. He underwent surgery and filed a workers’ compensation claim. His employer paid for his surgery and also paid him disability benefits.
The plaintiff then filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the family practitioner, alleging that he suffered permanent damages due to the practitioner’s failure to diagnose the tear or recommend follow-up testing. The plaintiff ultimately settled the medical malpractice case. The plaintiff’s employer then sought reimbursement not only for the disability benefits paid to the plaintiff but also for the cost of the plaintiff’s medical expenses. The Workers’ Compensation Commission and the circuit court found that the plaintiff’s employer was not entitled to the cost of the plaintiff’s medical treatment, after which the plaintiff’s employer appealed.
Reimbursement for Medical Expenses for a Work-Related Injury Following a Malpractice Action
The plaintiff’s employer argued that the workers’ compensation act required the plaintiff to reimburse them for the proceeds of his malpractice action for the costs of any medical expenses that arose from his injury. The court disagreed, noting that while a plaintiff may be required to reimburse a workers’ compensation insurer for expenses of medical treatment following the recovery of damages in a lawsuit that arose out of the same compensable injury, that reasoning did not apply to the subject case.
Rather, the family practitioner was not responsible for the plaintiff’s work injury, which was the injury for which the plaintiff’s employer-paid benefits and medical expenses. Thus, the court ultimately held that when an employer pays for the cost of medical treatment for an employee’s injury, and no one other than the employer is liable for the injury, and the employee does not recover damages for those medical expenses, the employer is not owed reimbursement for those costs from the employee’s recovery from a third party
Meet with a Practiced Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney
If you were harmed by incompetent medical care following an injury, it is prudent to meet with a practiced Maryland medical malpractice attorney to discuss your potential claims and damages. The experienced attorneys of Arfaa Law Group are skilled at helping people injured by medical malpractice in the pursuit of damages, and we will work diligently to help you seek a favorable result. We can be reached via our online form or at (410) 889-1850 to set up a free and confidential meeting.