LIABILITY OF THE VETERINARIAN
The owner of a horse is entitled to that treatment which is considered appropriate according to the state of scientific knowledge. A treatment malpractice exists if the treatment was not carried out according to these standards and thus not “lege artis”, the horse’s health is damaged and there is a causal connection between the treating veterinarian’s breach of duty and the damage that occurred. Likewise, if it was not medically indicated, avoidable complications occurred that would not have arisen if it had been properly performed, or an incorrect diagnosis was made.
In addition, the veterinarian (similar to human medicine) has a duty to provide information about treatment options, treatment alternatives, surgical methods and the risks of the respective treatment as well as the prospects of success.
Legal questions also arise in connection with the veterinary pre-purchase investigation. The veterinarian is not only obliged to carry out the investigation properly, but also has to inform his client about the result, in particular about the abnormalities of the horse (and to carry out or recommend further differentiating diagnostic investigations if indicated). The veterinarian commissioned with the pre-purchase investigation owes his client (as well as third parties covered by the protective effect of the contract) an error-free finding. Each pre-purchase investigation should be recorded accordingly (ideally by means of the standard form of the VÖP). If the veterinarian does not fulfill his duties, he could be exposed to claims for damages (e.g. if the horse was purchased due to the faulty findings).
For liability issues related to malpractice, information of the owner and veterinary pre-purchase investigations, please do not hesitate to contact us.