A few weeks ago, we posted a blog discussing whether former Boston Red Sox player David Ortiz would be able to recover from Dial Bar and Lounge, the nightclub where he was shot on June 9, 2019. Since that post, Ortiz has undergone extensive medical treatment due to complications from his injuries. He has now undergone three surgeries, including one to remove his gallbladder and part of his intestine. Ortiz will need to go through further treatment and rehabilitation to recover from those surgeries. He was recently released from a seven-week hospital stay. That means Ortiz has a hefty hospital bill, especially since he’s had three surgeries.
Let’s say Dial Bar and Lounge was found liable for Ortiz’s injuries. If found liable, Dial would have to pay all medical bills (known as “special damages”) Ortiz could prove to flow from their negligence. Put another way, Dial would have to pay for all damages flowing from its negligence. As we discussed in another blog post, it would not matter if Ortiz was especially likely to suffer complications from surgeries, because in Georgia the defendant must take the injured person as they find them – this is the “eggshell plaintiff” rule. So if Ortiz required a more expensive anesthesia due to his sensitivity to a standard one, or if he required an extra doctor in the operating room to monitor an unusual medical condition, Dial would be responsible for the bill if they were liable for the shooting. There’s another component to consider – plaintiffs are entitled to these “special damages” as well as “general damages” flowing from the defendant’s negligence. Without a doubt, Ortiz went through more pain and suffering as a result of having to undergo multiple surgeries than he would with just one, and he has dealt with more mental anguish by having to deal with the surgeries on an emotional level. Dial would be required to pay for all of the general damages flowing from these additional surgeries if found liable. The takeaway here is that Georgia law does not simply ask what would be a reasonable amount of treatment to address an injury for the average person – it asks what treatment was actually required for the specific plaintiff.
Whether the full course of treatment, including the second and third surgeries, is Dial’s responsibility to compensate depends on why the later surgeries and treatment were necessary. Dial could argue that only one surgery was necessary, but that an error by the surgeon is the reason more treatment was necessary. If that were true, then the error by the surgeon could break the “chain of causation” through an “intervening act.” In order to break the chain of causation, this error by the surgeon would have to be bad enough that it would not be “reasonably foreseeable” by Dial. Whether something is “reasonably foreseeable” gives lawyers a lot to argue about. Is it reasonably foreseeable that the surgeon could nick a vein and cause excess bleeding requiring another surgery? Probably so. Is it reasonably foreseeable that the surgeon could operate on the wrong part of Ortiz’s body? Probably not. If that were to happen, then Ortiz would probably have a claim for medical malpractice against the surgeon.
Who would pay for what in the scenario above? Dial, the nightclub, would pay for all reasonably foreseeable damages up until the intervening act of the surgical error, and it would also pay for all rehab and recovery one could expect to undergo after the initial surgery. If the medical malpractice claim were successful, the surgeon would have to pay for the subsequent surgeries required due to his or her negligence as well as any other rehab and recovery that would not have been necessary had he or she performed the surgery properly.
At Rafi Law Firm, we have experience demonstrating just how much someone has been damaged by a negligent act, meaning we help our clients make a full recovery from the harm they have suffered. Call us today at (404) 800-9933 or click here if you or a loved one has been severely injured due to someone else’s negligence, and let us see how we can help.