Medical practices these days tend to be pretty specialized. While a Connecticut resident may have a general practitioner for basic check-ups and small problems like colds, when there is something more serious happening, that person is likely to be referred to someone for that specific problem. Further, when dealing with internal medicine, there may be multiple doctors and other health care workers involved in patient care, as a radiologist may need to read scans or x-rays, while a specialist determines the best course of action, and a surgeon does any necessary procedures, usually accompanied by an anesthesiologist.
This means that when something goes wrong with the care of a patient, there may be a question as to who is responsible, and the fault could actually be traced to more than one individual. Further, it may be possible that the hospital or clinic in which the problem occurred could also share some of the blame. Because of this, it is important to understand the basics of how Connecticut apportions liability between defendants in a medical malpractice suit.
Connecticut follows what is known as a ‘pure several liability‘ rule for negligence cases, which is the most common type of medical malpractice. This means that the responsible party or parties will only be liable in the proportion of their negligence. For example, if two doctors are responsible for an injury to a patient and one is 60 percent negligent and the other is 40 percent, each would pay his or her percentage of the total damages amount, if both were parties to the lawsuit. If only the doctor who was 40 percent liable was a defendant, however, the plaintiff would only receive a judgement for that amount. This places the responsibility and cost on the plaintiff to identify and sue each person potentially responsible.
Unlike ‘joint and several’ liability states, where a defendant would be responsible to pay the whole damage amount and then seek contribution from other possible tortfeasors, plaintiffs in Connecticut medical malpractice cases need to be strategic in who they file claims against. Those who have been harmed by a doctor’s negligence may wish to consider consulting an experienced malpractice lawyer.