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What Can Happen If You Ignore Hospital Rules - How It Impacts Your Medical Malpractice Case

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St. Louis Medical Malpractice: Failure to Follow Hospital Rules and Regulations


When a hospital negligently causes harm to a patient, a medical malpractice lawsuit is a common result. In some cases, verdicts and settlements can exceed seven figures. Patients do not always win such cases, however, and even when they do they sometimes have to settle for less than the full amount of their losses. One of the ways that a hospital can win a medical malpractice lawsuit, or at least reduce their liability, is to show that the patient negligently contributed to his own damages by failing to follow hospital rules and regulations. An experienced St. Louis medical malpractice attorney can help you counter a claim of comparative fault asserted by a hospital.


Winning a Hospital Malpractice Case in Missouri


St. Louis hospitals are governed by Missouri medical malpractice law. To create a viable case against a St. Louis hospital, you will need to prove that the hospital owed you a certain duty of care, that it breached that duty, and that this breach caused you harm. Once you have proven all this, the hospital will lose the case unless it counters with an effective defense such as comparative fault.


Comparative Fault


Some of the ways in which a hospital might allege that you were partially or fully at fault for your own damages include:

  • failure to provide the hospital with a truthful and complete medical history

  • sneaking outside for cigarettes against doctor’s orders

  • sneaking in forbidden food or drinks

  • leaving hospital grounds without authorization

  • refusing to swallow pills administered by hospital staff

  • choosing to ignore doctors orders

Many other infractions might harm your medical malpractice claim against a hospital, depending on the facts of your case.

Missouri’s Comparative Fault Doctrine


In negligence cases, Missouri has established a pure comparative fault system in which your recovery is reduced by your percentage of fault as determined by a court. If your damages were $100,000, for example, and the court determines that you were 40 percent at fault, you would be entitled to $60,000 in damages. Even if you were 99 percent at fault, you would still be entitled to $1,000 in damages.  


Challenging the Rules


The mere fact that you broke hospital rules won’t necessarily doom your case or prevent you from receiving a full recovery. A good St. Louis medical malpractice lawyer may seek the challenge the rules themselves as unreasonable or unnecessary. Your lawyer might also employ the tactic of admitting that you broke the rules but denying that your infraction caused any part of your damages. Sneaking out for a cigarette break, for example, might not harm your case if this act did not aggravate your medical condition.


Responsibility and Physical/Mental Capacity


Even if you broke a hospital rules, your lawyer might argue that because of your mental state at the time of the accident, you were incapable of complying with the rule or even knowing of its existence. If you wandered outside and fell down some steps in a drug-induced haze, for example, your lawyer could argue that it was the hospital’s responsibility to keep you restrained, even if hospital rules forbid patients from leaving their wards without permission.

A savvy lawyer with experience in medical malpractice cases will be able to think of more than one strategy to defeat a hospital’s attempts to dodge liability for its own mistakes. St. Louis malpractice attorney Alvin Wolff will fight aggressively and explore every possible avenue to help you win your case, whether in court or at the settlement table. Call 314-241-2500 today for a free consultation.

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