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What is Respondeat Superior?

People are seen by medical professionals in a variety of settings. Sometimes people are treated in small independent clinics, other times, in larger regional medical centers, or even in very large hospital systems. In any of these cases, people want to receive the very best care possible. They want their doctors to diagnose and treat their medical conditions with the utmost care. And, in most situations, this is exactly what happens. Doctors successfully identify and treat a person's illness.

However, when doctors don't get it right, the consequences can be severe. People who suffer from the negligence of a doctor may have to deal with lifelong consequences. In many cases, these people may need to bring medical malpractice lawsuits. They may want to bring suits against both the doctor and the facility where the doctor works.

A lawsuit against a hospital may be allowed under the doctrine of Respondeat Superior. Under this doctrine, a hospital can be held liable for the negligence of a doctor if the doctor was an employee when the negligence occurred. However, this rule only applies if the doctor was acting within the scope of the person's employment. If the elements of Respondeat Superior can be met, then the hospital could be liable for damages based upon the negligence of the doctor.

If, however, the doctor was merely an independent contractor of the hospital, then the doctrine of Respondeat Superior likely does not apply. In this case, the hospital may not be liable for damages caused by a negligent doctor.

It can often be difficult for people to determine if Respondeat Superior applies in their medical malpractice cases. Therefore, Maryland residents should consider consulting with an attorney for specific legal advice.

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Law Offices of W. Scott Sonntag, P.A.
Maryland Trade Center III
7501 Greenway Center Drive # 460
Greenbelt, MD 20770
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