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Mike Myers
Mike Myers
Contributor •

Dangers of Settling with the Doctor Before the Hospital

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The West Virginia Court of Appeals held in 2002 that even though an injured person settled his medical malpractice suit against the negligent doctor, the hospital where the doctor worked could be sued.

In the case, the plaintiff settled with the doctor for a confidential amount. The hospital then argued that the claim against it should be dismissed because it was only vicariously liable for the doctor’s conduct.

This is an interesting result and is potentially in conflict with the law in the State of Washington. In the State of Washington, our appellate courts have held that settlement with what is called a solvent agent usually an employee who has assets concludes the claim against that agent’s principal (a principal would be in most cases the employer).

This rule in Washington came up under unfortunately circumstances. The Gordon Thomas firm a well-known law firm in Tacoma that handles personal injury and other cases settled claims with a doctor and then sought to obtain further amounts from the hospital which the doctor worked. To its unpleasant surprise, the court dismissed the claims against the hospital and announced the rule which all personal injury and medical malpractice plaintiffs have to be wary that settlement with a solvent agent releases the principal.

For more information, you should contact a personal injury attorney.