Published on:

Court Explains When a Case Arises under “Medical Malpractice” Versus a Traditional Theory of Negligence

Earlier last month, the Texas Supreme Court handed down a decision that illuminates a very important issue for all people who have been injured while on the premises of a hospital or doctor’s office, but not necessarily injured due to a doctor’s medical negligence.

slippery-when-wet-1549497In the case, Galvan v. Memorial Hermann Hospital System, the court allowed a plaintiff’s case to continue towards trial despite the fact that the plaintiff failed to submit documents that were necessary for a medical malpractice case under state law. The court came to its decision by analyzing the alleged negligence and determining that it was not a medical malpractice case, so the plaintiff should not be required to comply with the additional procedural requirements present in medical malpractice cases.

A Woman Slips in a Hospital

The facts of the case are simple in that the plaintiff slipped and fell on a puddle of water while visiting a loved one at the defendant’s hospital. She filed suit against the hospital for failing to maintain a safe property for visitors. In the plaintiff’s mind, this was a premises liability lawsuit.

However, the hospital responded to the claim by asking the court to dismiss the case. The hospital’s basis for the requested dismissal was that the plaintiff did not file an expert’s affidavit supporting her position that the defendant hospital’s conduct (in this case, failing to clean up the wet floor) fell below the applicable standard of care. Under Texas state law, all medical malpractice cases must be supported by such an affidavit, or they are subject to dismissal.

The Texas Supreme Court considered the facts of this case and decided that a slip-and-fall accident that occurred at a hospital was not the type of accident that the legislature intended to include in the medical malpractice expert affidavit requirement. The court considered numerous factors before making its decision, including where the injury occurred, whether the defendant hospital was providing medical care at the time of the accident, and whether the plaintiff was at the hospital seeking medical care when she was injured. After analyzing all of the factors, the court determined that it would not be proper to require the plaintiff to go through the additional trouble to obtain an expert’s affidavit because there was no scientific or medical issue that needed expert testimony. As a result, the plaintiff’s case was allowed to proceed to trial without the affidavit.

Have You Been Injured While in a Hospital?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a slip-and-fall or any other accident that occurred at a hospital or doctor’s office, don’t let the defendants or their attorneys convince you that the case is more complicated than it is. While it is true that most medical malpractice cases arising under Georgia law will require an expert’s testimony, not all cases that arise in a hospital or doctor’s office should be required to meet that additional requirement. The skilled Marietta slip and fall attorneys at Miller Legal Services have the experience and dedication necessary to help you get an honest evaluation of your case, and we can help you take the case to trial if that’s what needs to happen to get you the compensation you deserve. Call 770-284-3727 to set up a free consultation today.

See Related Blog Posts:

Causal Link Necessary in Georgia Premises Liability Claims, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, December 8, 2015.

Court Dismisses Case Against Driver Based on Plaintiff’s Failure to Show Negligence, Marietta Personal Injury Lawyer Blog, January 6, 2016.