Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiff was paralyzed after Defendant performed nine chiropractic treatments without a license. The jury was permitted to infer negligence from the violation of the statute.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. If violation of the statute by the defendant was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury, then the plaintiff may recover upon proof of violation. If violation of the statute has no direct bearing on the injury, proof of the violation becomes irrelevant.
Issue. If a violation of statute has no direct bearing on the injury, does proof of that violation become irrelevant?
Held. Yes. Judgment reversed.
* If violation of the statute by the defendant was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury, then the plaintiff may recover upon proof of violation. If violation of the statute has no direct bearing on the injury, proof of the violation because irrelevant. The license to practice medicine confers no additional skill upon the practitioner; nor does it confer immunity from physical injury upon a patient unless the practitioner fails to exercise care.
* The protection, which the statute was intended to provide, was against risk of injury by the unskilled or careless practitioner. Unless Plaintiff’s injury was caused by carelessness or lack of skill, Defendant’s failure to obtain a license was not connected with the injury. The mere failure to be licensed does not impute carelessness. To show negligence, Plaintiff needs to prove that Defendant treated Plaintiff with lack of skill.
* Defendant must satisfy the professional standards of skill and care prevailing among those who are licensed. If injury follows for failure to meet those standards, then Plaintiff may recover. In order to show that Plaintiff has been injured by Defendant’s breach of the statutory duty, proof must be given that Defendant in such treatment did not exercise the care and skill which would have been exercised by qualified practitioners within the state, and that such lack of skill and care caused the injury. Failure to obtain a license as required by law gives rise to no remedy if it has caused no injury.
In Dent v. West Virginia it was said: Few professions require more careful preparation by one who seeks to enter it than that of medicine.View Full Point of Law