When Veterinary Malpractice Seems So Obvious That No Expert is Needed
In a typical veterinary malpractice case, the plaintiff (the party suing the veterinarian) must retain a qualified expert witness in an attempt to prove that the veterinarian breached an applicable standard of care and that the breach, and not something else, caused the horse to be injured. Finding the right expert takes effort, and paying the right expert for his or her evaluation and time can be expensive.
In some cases, however, the facts are so compelling that courts have found that no expert witness is deemed necessary. Here are some of those cases:
- In one veterinary malpractice case from New Hampshire, the allegations involved the veterinarian mistakenly operating on a mare instead of a stallion. [The case was: Durocher v. Rochester Equine Clinic, 629 A.2d 827 (N.H. 1993).]
- In a case from New York, involving a dog, an owner brought her dog to a veterinary clinic while it was crying and showing signs of pain. The owner explained to the vet that the dog had broken into garbage and had been chewing on bones. The attending veterinarian never x-rayed the dog’s throat, esophagus, or stomach. After the dog died, a necropsy revealed that a chicken bone had perforated the dog’s esophagus, causing the death. The trial court ruled, and the appellate court agreed, that it was not necessary for plaintiff to present expert testimony to prove that a veterinarian should have x-ray the dog’s throat, esophagus and stomach if she suspects that the dog had swallowed something. [The case was Mathew v. Klinger, 686 N.Y.S.2d 549, 550 (1998).]
But court rulings can surprise you. In one case, a veterinarian left an instrument inside of a dog during a spaying procedure, but a Georgia court held that the plaintiff dog owner was nevertheless required to provide an expert witness to support a malpractice claim. [That case was Collins v. Newman, 517 S.E.2d 100 (Ga. App. 1999).]
Cases of veterinary malpractice can be complicated. If you suspect veterinary malpractice, contact a knowledgeable lawyer.
Categories: Veterinary Malpractice
Julie Fershtman is considered to be one of the nation's leading attorneys in the field of equine law. A frequent author and speaker on legal issues, she has written over 400 published articles, three books, and has lectured at seminars, conventions, and conferences in 29 states on issues involving law, liability, risk management, and insurance. For more information, please also visit www.fershtmanlaw.com and www.equinelaw.net, and www.equinelaw.info.View All Posts by Author ›
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