Can You Sue for Medical Malpractice if Your Doctor Was Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol?

It may seem obvious that a medical professional should be punished for practicing while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Unfortunately, our Columbus medical malpractice attorneys see this kind of thing happen more often than you may think.

Medical Malpractice Cases Are Treated a Bit Differently from Personal Injury Cases

While medical malpractice cases do fall under personal injury, they are treated quite differently than ordinary personal injury cases. In medical malpractice cases, it’s not just a matter of proving that your doctor or other medical professional was negligent.

Instead, your Columbus injury lawyer must prove that your doctor did not follow the standard of care that another physician would have given the circumstances. This is typically achieved by citing a violation of a statute or regulation.

The Duty of Care Owed by the Medical Professional is a Much Higher Standard

If you were injured in a car accident, your Columbus injury lawyer would have to prove that the other driver owed you a duty of care. They would also have to demonstrate that the defendant breached this duty.

In a medical malpractice case, your lawyer will have to prove that your doctor breached a medical standard of care. Performing while under the influence of drugs or alcohol certainly constitutes a breach.

Your Columbus Injury Lawyer Must Prove Negligence by a Preponderance of the Evidence

To get you the damages you deserve, your Columbus medical malpractice attorney must prove your case by a preponderance of the evidence. This means that they must demonstrate that it is more probable than not that your doctor’s negligence caused your injuries.

You will note that we said that your doctor’s behavior must have caused your injuries. This means that you must have suffered an actual injury to sue. It is not enough that your doctor performed a procedure while they were impaired. You must have suffered specific harm as well.

There Are Specific Laws Against Doctors Practicing Under the Influence of Drugs or Alcohol

it should go without saying that a doctor should never practice while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. However, in order to prove liability, your Columbus medical malpractice attorney must point to a violation of a specific rule or regulation.

According to Georgia Code §360-3-.02, no physician or physician’s assistant may practice medicine while “mentally, physically, or chemically impaired.” If your attorney can prove that they violated this rule, it should not be difficult to win your case.

These Rules Are Directed at Physicians and Physician Assistants

Cases involving a doctor practicing while under the influence of drugs or alcohol are not as rare as some people think. According to the United States Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, close to 10% of all medical professionals are addicted to either drugs or alcohol.

Our Columbus medical malpractice attorneys have seen this to be the case over the years. Our firm has represented many clients who have been injured at the hands of an impaired medical professional.

Healthcare Professional Under the Influence - medical malpractice

Doctors in Georgia Are Not Lawfully Allowed to Prescribe Controlled Substances to Themselves

The Georgia legislature is aware that many doctors and medical professionals are addicted to drugs and alcohol. With this in mind, they have passed numerous laws that prohibit a doctor from utilizing illegal drugs.

For example, according to Georgia Code §360-3-.02, no physician or physician’s assistant in the State of Georgia can prescribe controlled substances for personal use. Unfortunately, that does not mean physicians can’t prescribe them to each other.

Can Your Columbus Medical Malpractice Attorney Prove a Violation of These Rules?

One way to prove your medical malpractice case is to prove that your doctor violated one of the above-mentioned laws. Of course, your Columbus medical malpractice attorney can always approach the case like an ordinary medical malpractice case.

One of the benefits of relying on a statutory violation is that it will constitute negligence per se. If your attorney can do this, there is no defense the doctor’s attorney can raise that will hold water.

What Is Negligence Per Se?

As briefly stated above, your Columbus medical malpractice attorney may be able to prove your case based on negligence per se. Negligence per se simply means that the behavior of the defendant was negligent in and of itself.

The easiest way to demonstrate negligence per se is to cite a statute or regulation that applies to medical professionals. Since there are numerous such laws in Georgia, it will not be difficult for your journey to meet this standard.

How Does Negligence Per Se Relate to Your Medical Malpractice Case?

One of the reasons a negligence per se case is easier to prove is that there’s no defense your doctor can raise. It doesn’t matter how experienced their attorney may be, there is no getting around the fact that the physician that was treating you clearly violated the law.

This also means that it may cost a lot less to prove your case. In any medical malpractice case involving drugs or alcohol, the defendant is usually eager to settle. The last thing they want to do is bring criminal charges down upon themselves or destroy their reputation in the medical community.

Can Your Columbus Medical Malpractice Attorney Demand Punitive Damages?

In addition to demanding ordinary damages, your Columbus injury lawyer may also demand punitive damages. Normally, there is a limit on how much you can receive in punitive damages in your medical malpractice case.

According to Georgia Code §51-12-5(1), the cap on punitive damages is $250,000. However, there are exceptions to this rule. If you can show that the defendant’s judgment was impaired by alcohol or drugs, you won’t be limited by the cap.

Reach Out to an Experienced Columbus Injury Lawyer Today

If you believe that you’re the victim of medical malpractice, you should reach out to one of our Columbus injury lawyers right away. These cases are typically more involved than your average personal injury lawsuit. It may take your attorney a little longer to prepare your case than it normally would.

We understand that you may be focused on recovering from your injuries right now. This is why it’s even more important that you trust a Columbus medical malpractice attorney to handle things for you.

We do offer all new clients a free, initial consultation. This gives you a chance to ask any questions you may have and find out if your claim is worth pursuing.

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