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Slip-and-fall accidents and medical malpractice

Oklahoma residents who have been the victims of accidents where they slip and fall on hospital grounds may face confusion as to the difference between ordinary negligence and medical malpractice. The distinction between the two types of claims is crucial because of the procedural obstacles in a medical malpractice case, but, historically, it has not been clear. In order to bring a medical malpractice case to court after falling in a hospital, the plaintiff must file, gain approval and deal with a potentially costlier litigation than a standard personal injury lawsuit.

Some courts have rendered inconsistent decisions as to whether similar slip-and-fall cases are a medical malpractice issue or belong in the domain of ordinary negligence. Texas and Pennsylvania, states with tough medical malpractice procedural requirements, historically dismissed such cases on procedural grounds. The Texas Supreme Court has recently ended this trend and requires plaintiffs to obtain a medical expert’s opinion confirming medical negligence in order to proceed with a case.

Two famous cases heard by the Texas Supreme Court resulted in the conclusion that a ‘substantial nexus” between the health care provision and the slip and fall must exist before malpractice requirements are met. In another case, the Court noted that a ‘substantive relationship” between the hospital’s safety standards and the provision of medical care must exist for medical malpractice to occur. As these laws continue to evolve across the country, there will be more reform efforts to combat frivolous medical malpractice claims.

Medical malpractice is a complex area of the law that often places significant burdens upon the plaintiff. A lawyer might decide to help injured slip-and-fall victims pursue a personal injury claim instead. Injured victims might be entitled to seek damages for medical expenses, lost wages and other damages caused by the slip-and-fall accident.