Veterinary Malpractice

Last Friday, for the fourth or fifth time, I attended the annual Animal Law Institute.  The Institute is a CLE program put on by Animal Law Section of the State Bar of Texas.  It moves around each year, but this year it was at Texas Wesleyan School of Law here in Fort Worth.

You may be wondering, “what

As I’ve previously stated in this prior post, negligence and malpractice lawsuits against veterinarians are generally “tough sleddin’” for plaintiffs in Texas. Would-be plaintiffs who wish to sue their veterinarians often face major obstacles such as: 1) proving damages; 2) obtaining effective expert testimony; 3) paying litigation expenses where there is a low likelihood of recovery

I just returned from the 2010 National Conference on Equine Law , held last week in Lexington, Kentucky. This was my fifth year in a row to attend the conference, and it was a great year.  The conference had a record number of attendees–180 practitioners from all over the United States. This year’s lineup of speakers and

Veterinarians may have several legal defenses to claims of malpractice. One of the most important procedural defenses is that of the statute of limitations. A statute of limitations is a state law that puts a limit on the amount of time a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit, usually from the time the injury occurred

Someone recently asked me if he had a case against an equine surgery clinic that told his local vet during a telephone conversation to not send them the mare because they did not have room for her at the clinic.  The mare died 4 hours later of colic complications, and the owner stated that she would have lived if the vet clinic had admitted her and performed colic surgery.  The mare in that case was not a current patient of the clinic.  The owner would not have a valid claim against the clinic in that case.

The decision of whether to accept an animal as a patient is at the sole discretion of a veterinarian.  This rule is set forth in Article II.E. of the the Principles of Veterinary Medical Ethics of the American Veterinary Medical Association, which applies to all veterinarians in the United States.  The Texas Rules of Professional Conduct for veterinarians codifies that rule for vets practicing in Texas.  Therefore, even in emergency situations, vets do not have to take your horse if, for example, you cannot pay for the treatment or they simply do not have time to treat your horse.

For a vet to be potentially liable to a horse owner for injury or death of their horse, a veterinarian-client-patient relationship (VCPR) must first exist.  The VCPR is established when all of the following conditions are met:


Continue Reading Does a Veterinarian Have to Treat Your Horse in an Emergency?