The Arizona Supreme Court recently ruled on the common law precedent of the original tortfeasor rule, which allows a person who is civilly liable to another for some injury may also be civilly liable for the negligence, mistake or lack of skill on the part of a doctor or surgeon who treats the injured person for that injury.
What is often considered is whether aggravation of the original injury or subsequent additional injury due to poor medical or surgical treatment was a natural and probable consequence of the original injury or a direct result of the original tortfeasor’s actions.
In Florida, this issue was weighed by the Florida Supreme Court in Stuart v. Hertz Corp., back in 1977. In that case, our highest court ruled that a rental car company whose vehicle injured a woman in an accident could be liable for injuries she sustained from medical negligence while she was being treated for her original injuries. The court further ruled the rental car company couldn’t introduce the doctor into the case and make him pay for his portion of the damages. (The federal Graves Amendment has since barred individuals from taking action against rental car companies for the negligence of their driving customers, though that is beside the point here). Continue reading