The Superior Court of New Jersey Appellate Division on June 24 upheld a trial court decision to dismiss a psychiatrist from a lawsuit filed by the family of a woman who died after a car-bicycle crash involving the physician's patient. The decision was a positive one for physicians who—as the Litigation Center of the AMA and State Medical Societies cautioned in an amicus brief it filed in the case—could have been subjected to profound harm if the court ruled the other way and expanded physicians' legal obligations to the general public.

Standing for physicians

The AMA Litigation Center is the strongest voice for America's medical profession in legal proceedings across the country.

In its opinion, the court likened this case to instances of social host liability and dram shop cases where person "A" provides alcoholic beverages to visibly intoxicated person "B" and "B" then injures innocent third party "C." The court said because the patient "was not demonstrably impaired by her medication at the time she caused the fatal crash, [the physician] cannot be held liable for an injury unrelated to his conduct."

Read more about the case here.

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