Bethesda, MD asked in Medical Malpractice for Maryland

Q: Does medical malpractice laws affect veterinarians, too? Or just human doctors?

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1 Lawyer Answer
Mark Oakley
Mark Oakley
  • Rockville, MD
  • Licensed in Maryland

A: There is a statutory scheme set up to specifically address medical malpractice by physicians (regular M.D.s), that would not apply to vets. These statutory provisions are largely procedural, but also address substantive issues related to the claims. However, the standards for professional malpractice, and the legal definitions and evidentiary standards are largely the same across all professions when it comes to proving malpractice (lawyers, doctors, accountants, architects, and, yes, veterinarians, among others). So, if your question is whether you can sue a vet for professional malpractice, the answer is "yes." Be aware that the law generally treats pets as "property," so general pain and suffering damages and claims for emotional distress, etc., generally most or all "non-economic" damages, are seldom recoverable. Damages are limited largely to "economic" damages, hard cost numbers, such as medical bills incurred, out-of-pocket costs directly attributed to the malpractice such as continuing or future medical costs and care, and the "fair market value" of a deceased pet (if death resulted).

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