Can You Sue an Emergency Room for Negligence?

Can You Sue an Emergency Room for Negligence?

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Can You Sue an Emergency Room for Negligence?

“Out of the frying pan and into the fire.”

It is a timeless saying that describes going through a tough time and coming out on the other side only to go through an even more difficult predicament. The saying applies to many of life’s events. For example, a professional who receives a demotion quickly finds herself out of the frying pan and into the fire when the demotion quickly turns into a termination. Another of life’s many events that the saying applies to concerns someone who sustains one or more serious injuries as the result of an accident or an act of negligence.

A victim who sustains one or more serious injuries as the result of an accident or an act of negligence requires emergency medical care. A team of emergency medical responders takes the victim to the nearest hospital to receive treatments for sustaining a serious or even life-threatening injury. When you have to receive emergency medical care, you expect the nurses and physicians treating you to improve your medical condition. Unfortunately, a team of emergency medical professionals can make an already bad situation worse.

Medical malpractice represents the third leading cause of death each year, with an American study reporting an average of 250,000 fatalities. A study conducted in 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic demonstrated more than 85 million Americans have gone through some type of negative experience with a healthcare provider. A significant percentage of negative experiences and medical malpractice deaths take place in hospital emergency rooms. This begs the question, can you sue an emergency room for negligence?

Hospitals argue that emergency medical personnel are under immense pressure and considerable time constraints to perform emergency medical procedures. They claim because of the pressure felt by emergency medical personnel, that the legal system should cut them some slack whenever a mistake is made during an emergency medical procedure. However, the judicial system has repeatedly sided with plaintiffs that have filed a civil lawsuit against hospitals for committing acts of medical negligence inside emergency rooms.

If you or a family member are a victim of medical malpractice, schedule a free case evaluation today with a personal injury lawyer at Morgan and Morgan to determine the best course of action. 

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Get answers to commonly asked questions about our legal services and learn how we may assist you with your case.

  • What Are the Most Common Types of Medical Malpractice?

    Can you sue an emergency room? The answer is yes, but the personal injury lawyer that you hire at Morgan and Morgan must prove the healthcare provider committed one or more acts of negligence. This means first determining the type of medical malpractice that caused you harm.

    With more than 35 years of experience litigating medical malpractice cases, the personal injury attorneys at Morgan have discovered the three most common types of medical malpractice.


    Medical malpractice can happen at any stage of the healthcare process, but it frequently occurs during the first stage. The first thing you experience when under emergency care is undergoing a series of diagnostic tests to determine the reason for your visit. Because emergency room medical personnel are under incredible pressure, one or more mistakes can be made while you undergo diagnostic tests. A misdiagnosis might lead to the recommendation of a treatment that does much more harm than good for your health.

    Between 2013 and 2017 nearly one-third of all medical malpractice lawsuits involved some form of misdiagnosis.

    Surgical Error

    The pressure of time running out on a patient plays a significant role in accomplished medical professionals making one or more mistakes during a surgical procedure. From completing a surgical procedure that stops massive wounds from bleeding to conducting a surgical procedure that repairs a damaged spinal cord, a surgical error can turn a serious injury into a life-threatening healthcare issue. Surgical errors also include performing surgery on the wrong patient and performing a surgical procedure on the wrong section of the body.

    Incorrect Medication Prescriptions

    Prescription drug mistakes can unfold at two points in the treatment process. They can happen at the counter when a patient picks up medication and/or when the primary physician in an emergency room prescribes the wrong drug. The negative outcomes of receiving the wrong drugs can include suffering a serious reaction and/or becoming addicted to a drug you should not have taken. Incorrect medication prescriptions are a common problem for pain medications, especially when an emergency room physician prescribes too much pain medication for a patient who is highly vulnerable to addiction.

  • What Are the Four Elements of Proving Medical Malpractice?

    The personal injury lawyer assigned to your case must demonstrate the presence of the four elements of negligence to hold a hospital accountable for providing poor medical care.

    Duty of Care

    The first element, which is called duty of care, represents the easiest element to prove for establishing an act of negligence. Your personal injury lawyer shows the hospital that treated your serious injuries owed you a duty of care to prevent any additional healthcare issues from arising. Healthcare providers of all kinds, from general practitioners to emergency room surgeons, owe patients s duty of care to protect them from harm.

    Violate the Duty of Care Doctrine

    The second element of proving negligence can be tricky to do for even the most experienced personal injury lawyers. Your attorney must gather enough physical evidence to show the healthcare provider committed at least one act that breached the duty of care doctrine. Physical evidence such as medical records and the support of witness statements can help your personal injury lawyer prove the hospital that treated your serious injuries committed at least one violation of the doctrine that establishes a duty of care.


    Your personal injury attorney must demonstrate the act or acts of medical malpractice caused you harm. This is accomplished by submitting copies of the results of diagnostic tests, as well as a detailed description of all medical treatments. The attorney representing the hospital might claim you developed additional healthcare issues as the result of an action that took place outside of the emergency room where you received treatment. For example, if you suffered from the side effects of an incorrectly prescribed drug, the other party’s attorney might claim you took the medication from a prescription issued by another healthcare provider.

    Financial Losses

    The last element of proving negligence requires you to demonstrate the negligent acts that caused you harm in turn generated financial losses. Your personal injury lawyer submits copies of medical bills, as well as timekeeping records, to establish how much medical malpractice negatively impacted your finances. After you show the judge hearing your case that you suffered financial losses as the result of medical malpractice, your personal injury lawyer requests compensation that includes economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.

  • What Is the Settlement Process for a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

    If you decide to file a lawsuit against a hospital because of poor emergency medical care, you go through different phases before you reach the trial phase of the litigation process. Discovery represents the phase during a civil trial in which both parties exchange information such as physical evidence and the statements provided by witnesses. During discovery, both parties might agree to negotiate a settlement to avoid a costly and time-consuming trial.

    The settlement process typically consists of three stages.

    Calculate a Value for Compensation

    During the free case evaluation scheduled with a personal injury lawyer from Morgan and Morgan, you should submit every document that confirms how much money an act or acts of medical negligence have cost you. Your attorney adds up the value of tangible expenses, such as the value of medical bills. The second category to calculate compensation are the costs associated with pain and suffering. Falling victim to one or more acts of medical malpractice can leave behind emotional scars that take a lifetime to heal. Your attorney calculates a value for pain and suffering by using a formula that factors in the value of tangible costs like medical expenses.

    Send a Demand Letter

    A demand letter represents the formal correspondence that informs the hospital that you plan to file a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages. The demand letter should include a detailed explanation of what transpired before, during, and after the act or acts of medical negligence. Your personal injury lawyer also submits the value of the compensation you seek, as well as a description of how your attorney calculated a fair value for monetary damages. Sending the demand letter via certified mail ensures the other party receives the correspondence.


    Negotiations start with the submission of the value for compensation. Your personal injury lawyer confirms the initial offer, which the other party can either accept or reject. If the other party rejects the initial offer, you might receive a counteroffer or a letter stating the other party plans to take the case to the trial phase of the litigation process. Several rounds of counteroffers can follow the initial offer until both parties agree to a settlement or decide to take the case in front of a civil court judge.

  • Act With a Sense of Urgency

    Do not allow the shock of falling victim to medical malpractice negatively impact your efforts to get justice. Acting with a sense of urgency helps you receive the compensation that you deserve must faster than if you procrastinate when it comes to contacting a personal injury lawyer.

    Acting with a sense of urgency also is important when filing a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages before the expiration of the statute of limitations. Each state has established a deadline for filing a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages. Most states have set the deadline to take legal action between two and four years. The clock starts ticking on a personal injury lawsuit on the date when the act or acts of medical negligence took place. However, you might have developed delayed symptoms, which is sometimes the case with acts of medical malpractice. If you developed delayed symptoms caused by medical negligence, you might be able to receive an extension for filing a personal injury lawsuit.

    If you fail to meet the deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit in the state where you live, the court clerk processing your lawsuit has the power to remove it from the judicial docket. Ensure you file a civil lawsuit that seeks monetary damages with a sense of urgency by scheduling a free case evaluation with a personal injury lawyer from Morgan and Morgan.

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