What is my vet’s liability if they misdiagnosed a parasite and it resulted in my other dog picking it up, as well as my boyfriend?

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What is my vet’s liability if they misdiagnosed a parasite and it resulted in my other dog picking it up, as well as my boyfriend?

My veterinarian diagnosed my new puppy with a parasite. The next time I was there, a vet tech gave me his medication stating it was for the parasite. A few weeks later my other dog got sick. I took her to the same vet who then told me that she had the same parasite that my new puppy had. The vet then told me that as she was looking through the puppy’s chart, she realized they gave me medication for a different parasite and not for Giardia which at this point both of my dogs have. We were extremely cautious with the dogs separating them until the puppy was done with the medication. When he finished we assumed he was free of Giardia and let them play together. My boyfriend now also has Giardia and has missed a lot of work. Is the vet at fault?

Asked on June 26, 2014 under Malpractice Law, New Jersey

Answers:

S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 7 years ago | Contributor

Medical malpractice is negligence.  Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care that a reasonable medical practitioner in the community would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm).  The vet is liable for negligence in prescribing the wrong medication. The vet is also liable for the  negligence of the vet tech giving the medication for the wrong parasite because an employer is liable for the negligence of an employee which occurs during the course and scope of employment.

Obtain the vet bills and medical reports for your dogs when they complete their treatment.  Those items should be filed with the vet's malpractice insurance carrier when you file your claim.  If the case is settled with the vet's malpractice insurance carrier, NO lawsuit for the injury to your dogs is filed.  If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the vet's insurance carrier, reject the settlement offers and file a lawsuit for negligence against the vet.  If the case is NOT settled with the vet's insurance carrier, your lawsuit for negligence against the vet must be filed prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.

When your boyfriend completes his medical treatment and is released by his doctor, he should obtain his medical bills, medical reports and documentation of any wage loss.  Those items should be included in his personal injury claim filed with the vet's malpractice insurance carrier.  Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of his illness/injury and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering, which is an amount in addition to the medical bills.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.  If your boyfriend's case is settled with the vet's malpractice insurance carrier, NO lawsuit is filed.  If he is dissatisfied with settlement offers from the vet's insurance carrier, he should reject the settlement offers and file a lawsuit for negligence against the vet.  If the case is NOT settled with the vet's insurance carrier, your boyfriend must file his lawsuit for negligence against the vet prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or he will lose his rights forever in the matter.

 


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