Court Determines Hospital Slip-and-Fall Is Not a “Medical Malpractice” Case

Earlier last month, a State Supreme Court issued an opinion reversing the lower court’s dismissal of a plaintiff’s claim, based on the fact that the plaintiff failed to comply with the procedural requirements of a medical malpractice claim under the state’s laws. In the case, Galvan v. Memorial Hermann Hospital System, the Supreme Court of Texas ultimately determined that since there was not a sufficient nexus between the alleged injury and the hospital’s provision of health care, the case was not subject to the heightened requirements of a medical malpractice case.

caution-wet-floor-sign-1-1444538The Facts of the Case

In Galvan v. Memorial Hermann Hospital System, the plaintiff was a woman who was visiting a relative at the defendant hospital. The plaintiff was walking from the hospital’s pharmacy to her relative’s room when she slipped on a puddle of water that was coming from under a restroom door. The woman filed a lawsuit against the hospital, seeking compensation for her injuries.

In response, the hospital asked the court to dismiss the case because the plaintiff failed to submit an expert report, as is required under state law for all medical malpractice cases. The lower court denied the hospital’s motion, but the intermediate court reversed that decision. The plaintiff then appealed to the state’s supreme court.

The Court Determines the Slip-and-Fall Case is Not One of Medical Malpractice

The court ultimately determined that there was no “substantive nexus” between the alleged injury and the hospital’s business of providing medical services, so the case was not based on the theory of medical malpractice. The court considered numerous factors, including:

  • Did the injury occur in the course of protecting a patient from harm?
  • At the time of the injury, was the plaintiff seeking health care?
  • At the time of the injury, was the defendant providing health care?
  • Did the claim arise from an alleged breach of a professional duty?

Answering all of these questions in the negative, the court determined that the case should not be held to the higher procedural standards of a medical malpractice case, and the plaintiff’s failure to comply with the medical malpractice requirements should not be fatal to her case.

Medical Malpractice Cases in Virginia

While this case arose in Texas, similar considerations are at play here in Virginia. For example, in medical malpractice cases, an expert is required to explain to the court what the applicable standard of care is and how the defendant violated that standard. Without expert testimony, a medical malpractice plaintiff’s case is destined to fail. However, as this case notes, merely because an injury occurs on a hospital’s grounds does not mean that the case is subject to this requirement.

Have You Been Injured in a Virginia Hospital?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a Virginia hospital or doctor’s office, or in any other slip-and-fall accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for all you have been through. Don’t let a defendant’s assessment of the case sway your expectations. The skilled attorneys at Charles B. Roberts & Associates have the dedication and experience necessary to help you successfully bring your case against those responsible for your injuries. Call (703) 798-3039 today to set up a consultation.

See More Blog Posts:

Contact Sports and Traumatic Brain Injuries, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, December 14, 2015.

U.S. Supreme Court Discusses Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act as It Applies to Personal Injury Cases, Virginia Injury Lawyers Blog, December 7, 2014.