Negligence and Tort
Med-Legal is a section that is very hard to understand initially, and is usually taught at the very beginning of many initial education programs. If you do not study this towards the end of your program, the content below may catch you by surprise on your test. It is important to know these terms, and how they may relate to you and your career. With that said, we are going to discuss negligence and tort.
Negligence and tort are legal concepts that are related to civil wrongs and the liability that may arise as a result. While negligence is a type of tort, understanding negligence is important by itself.
Negligence is the failure to exercise the level of care that a reasonable person would use in a similar situation, resulting in harm to another person or property
To prove negligence, the following four elements must be present:
Duty of care: The person being sued (the defendant) had a legal duty to act with care toward the person bringing the lawsuit (the plaintiff).
Breach of duty: The defendant failed to perform with the level of care that a reasonable person would have used in a similar situation.
Causation: The defendant’s breach of duty caused the plaintiff’s injury or damage.
Damages: The plaintiff suffered actual damages due to the defendant’s actions.
A tort is a civil wrong committed by one person against another, resulting in harm or injury. Torts can be intentional, such as assault or battery, or unintentional, such as negligence.
Types of torts: There are several types of torts, including:
- Intentional torts: These torts involve an intentional act that causes harm to another person, such as assault, battery, or defamation.
- Negligence: Negligence is a tort involving the failure to exercise the level of care that a reasonable person would use in a similar situation, resulting in harm to another person or property.
- Strict liability: In strict liability torts, the defendant is held liable for injuries or damages caused by their actions, regardless of whether they were negligent. Examples of strict liability torts include manufacturing defects and animal attacks.
All healthcare providers have a legal duty to provide care that meets their field’s accepted standard of practice. If a paramedic fails to meet this standard and causes harm to a patient as a result, they may be found guilty of negligence.
While the term paramedic is used mostly in this guide above, it is very important to know that this can apply to ANYONE in the healthcare field. This is a very brief guide to a very complex topic.
Examples of Negligence
- A doctor fails to follow proper infection control protocols, leading to a patient contracting a severe infection.
- A driver runs a red light and collides with another car, causing injury to the other driver.
- A property owner fails to repair a broken step, leading to a pedestrian falling and being injured.
Examples of Torts
- In a battery case, a person intentionally hits another person, causing injury.
- A person causes a car accident by texting while driving, resulting in injuries to the other person
- A person defames another person by spreading false information about them, damaging their reputation
- A manufacturer produces a product with a defect that causes injury to a consumer, in a case of strict liability.
- A person’s dog bites another person, resulting in injury, in a case of strict liability for animal attacks.
Examples of Negligent Acts that a Paramedic Could Perform
- A paramedic fails to follow proper protocols for administering medication, resulting in a patient suffering an adverse reaction.
- A paramedic fails to properly secure a patient in an ambulance, resulting in the patient falling and injured during transport.
- A paramedic fails to properly assess and treat a patient’s injuries, resulting in the patient’s condition worsening.
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