Court Decision Expands Physician Liability in Accidents Caused by Medicated Drivers

On December 16, 2015, the New York Court of Appeals, our highest court, issued a decision in Davis v. South Nassau Communities Hospital which held that physicians and hospitals may be liable to the general public if a patient is not warned of the risks or side effects of certain types of medications which can impair the patient’s driving ability. A third party who is injured in an accident may now sue the physician or hospital directly if there has been a failure to warn the patient of the side effects of the medication.

This is a significant change from prior New York case law and has very serious consequences to physicians by expanding their duty and liability to third parties. In order to satisfy this duty, we strongly advise physicians to not only warn patients of the risks of medications and other treatment or procedures but also clearly document in the medical record that the patient has been warned of both the risks of the medications and not driving or using heavy machinery after receiving such medications.

Click here to read the decision.

This update was prepared by Fager Amsler & Keller, LLP. MLMIC-insured physicians with questions about the decision may contact the firm at the numbers provided at our website under “Legal Advice and Services.”