(219)736-9700 info@davidholublaw.com

Injury in a Crash Made Worse by Doctor

I’m Katelyn Holub, an attorney focusing on personal injury law in northwest Indiana.

Welcome to Personal Injury Primer, where we break down the law into simple terms, provide legal tips, and discuss personal injury law topics.

Today’s question comes from a caller who said she was injured in a car crash and fractured her wrist. She said a doctor examined the wrist the day after the crash and placed the wrist in a cast. The doctor then told her everything would be healed within six weeks.

Her problem is that the wrist didn’t heal. A year and a half later, another doctor said she would never be able to use her wrist because it should’ve been surgically fixed with a pin and rod.

The wrist will no longer bend, and it is too late to fix by surgery. She wanted to know her options.

The first thing to understand in a situation like this is that the at-fault party who caused the car crash and the wrist fracture is legally on the hook for the wrist injury. Even if that wrist injury was worsened by a medical doctor who did not provide perfect medical care.

The law is that the party who caused the crash is responsible for whatever happens as part of the chain of events that led the injured party to seek medical treatment.

As long as the medical treatment sought was reasonable. An adverse result from medical treatment does not cut off the chain of causation linking back to the auto accident.

A key point to remember is that the treatment has to be reasonable. The injured party cannot choose to go to a medicine man with no medical license and expect the at-fault party to be responsible for poor medical care.

As long as the injured party makes a reasonable choice in treatment, the at-fault driver is responsible for whatever happens during treatment.

The second thing to understand is that the doctor who provided substandard medical treatment, rendering the wrist immobile, may also be liable for the harm caused by substandard medical care.

Where things get tricky is that the injured party cannot make a double recovery.

This means they cannot attain total damages from the at-fault driver and also gain full damages from the medical practitioner who provided negligent medical treatment.

However, the injured party can choose, at their election, who to sue.

Suppose the at-fault driver has only limited insurance coverage. The injured party might make a partial settlement with the driver and proceed to assert a claim against a negligent medical doctor for the uncompensated harm resulting from a failure to properly treat the wrist.

However, the language used in releases and other settlement documents would have to be carefully drafted to accomplish this.

A critical point to remember in such cases is that two different statute of limitations may apply as to the timeline available to file a lawsuit against a driver versus against a doctor.

Consulting an attorney early in a case is essential. An attorney will help ensure that deadlines to sue are met and evidence adequately preserved.

I hope you found this information helpful. If you are a victim of someone’s carelessness, substandard medical care, a product defect, work injury, or another personal injury, please call (219) 736-9700 with your questions. You can also learn more about us by visiting our website at DavidHolubLaw.com – while there, make sure you request a copy of our book “Fighting for Truth.”