No one expects their eye surgeon to make mistakes during surgery. Unfortunately, sometimes it happens, and the results can leave patients with irreparable damage to their vision.
Victims of medical errors in the course of eye surgery have legal rights to compensation from the medical professionals who harmed them. To obtain the money they need and deserve, those victims need experienced, skilled legal representation.
Below we discuss some of the issues inherent in seeking compensation for medical malpractice during eye surgery. To learn more about your legal rights after an eye surgery gone-wrong, contact an experienced eye surgery medical malpractice attorney today for a free case consultation.
About Medical Malpractice Generally
Doctors and other medical professionals have a legal and ethical obligation to provide patients with the medical standard of care, which represents the quality of care that a reasonably qualified medical professional would provide in similar circumstances.
The medical standard of care can vary from medical-setting-to-medical-setting. A doctor in a rural health practice is not necessarily expected to provide the same level of care for a complicated health problem than, say, a specialist at a major university hospital.
Still, when it comes to eye surgery, the standard of care should not vary widely. For the most part, only highly-trained ophthalmologists, assisted by specialized surgical teams, perform these surgeries. They have a duty to make sure they do not make mistakes that can harm a patient’s vision.
Determining if a doctor has delivered the medical standard of care is not always straightforward. That is why it is important for anyone whose eye surgery results in a poor outcome to speak with a skilled, experienced medical malpractice attorney who has the base of knowledge to evaluate whether a doctor’s care fell short of the required minimum standard.
Examples of Medical Malpractice in Eye Surgery
Eye surgeons and their teams can commit malpractice in many ways, which may include:
- Misdiagnosis. This form of malpractice can happen before surgery begins. It involves a medical team making a mistake in the diagnosis of a patient’s condition, resulting in the doctor and team taking action on incorrect information. Misdiagnosis can lead to an ophthalmologist performing unnecessary eye surgery, for example. Misdiagnosis also delays addressing a patient’s actual condition, which could cause further injury.
- Lack of informed consent. An eye doctor, like any other doctor, must tell the patient of the risks associated with the surgery so that the patient can make an informed decision on whether to have the surgery. Ophthalmologists must also tell patients about alternative treatments, including the risks of alternative treatments. Medical malpractice can occur if the doctor does not tell the patient about the risks, alternative treatments, and the risks of the alternative treatments, and the patient suffers injuries during the treatment.
- Sterilization errors. Because the eye is vulnerable to infections, doctors treating patients in connection with an eye surgery must take every precaution not to do something that causes an infection. Eye infections can quickly spread to other parts of the body. If the eye doctor does not properly sterilize equipment before starting an eye surgery, or before examining the eye after surgery, the doctor could risk giving the patient a harmful infection.
- Surgical errors. Eye surgeons can also make mistakes during the surgery itself. Some surgical errors can include operating on the wrong eye, slipping-up or otherwise doing damage to the eye with a surgical implement, or failing to perform a procedure correctly, resulting in damage.
These are just some examples of potential medical malpractice in eye surgery. Many others exist. Speak with an experienced, skilled, eye surgery medical malpractice attorney today to discuss whether the outcome of your eye surgery resulted from a medical error that amounted to malpractice.
Injuries an Ophthalmologist’s Error Can Cause
An ophthalmologist’s error, or an error by the doctor’s team, can cause permanent damage to a patient’s eyes and vision, including permanent blindness, blurry vision, light sensitivity, poor or no color detection, tunnel vision, and impaired depth perception, among others. Patients harmed by medical malpractice during eye surgery may lose the ability to get around on their own, to drive, do their jobs, or to enjoy any of the countless activities that rely on clear eyesight.
Legal Rights to Compensation for Eye Surgery Medical Malpractice
Victims of medical errors in connection with eye surgery have legal rights to compensation for their injuries and losses.
In most states, a doctor’s failure to deliver the medical standard of care, which results in injury to a patient, amounts to medical malpractice for which the doctor or healthcare provider must pay damages to the patient.
Obtaining those damages, however, requires skilled, experienced legal representation. Over the years, powerful political lobbies representing doctors and health systems have pushed back against medical malpractice lawsuits, complaining being held accountable for their errors raises their insurance premiums. As a result of those lobbying efforts, laws have passed in many states that place hurdles in the path of patients injured by a medical team’s mistakes. Patients and their lawyers must get over those hurdles before they can take legal action in the state’s courts.
Depending upon the state where the patient receives inadequate care, the hurdles can include:
- Conducting a pre-lawsuit investigation overseen by an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can certify that it has been conducted and that there is a sound basis for a claim;
- Obtaining expert medical opinions to certify that the patient did not receive the required standard of care;
- Giving advance notice to the medical provider of an intent to file a lawsuit and allowing the medical provider a period to investigate and respond;
- Submitting to pre-lawsuit investigation by the medical provider, which may include having the patient examined by the provider’s medical expert;
- Submitting the claim to a medical malpractice review board that decides whether the claim has enough merit to proceed; and
- Participating in mandatory, pre-lawsuit mediation of any claim.
Injured patients whose attorneys successfully guide them through this pre-lawsuit process can then often take legal action against the medical provider whose mistakes during eye surgery harmed them.
In a legal action, the damages the patient can seek to recover may include:
- Medical expenses related to treating the injury caused by the medical error and any secondary health conditions resulting from it, including additional surgeries, hospitalizations, doctor visits, therapy appointments, and medications.
- Other expenses incurred because of the injuries caused during eye surgery, such as the costs of modifying the patient’s home, purchasing special equipment, or hiring extra help, to accommodate a loss of eyesight.
- Lost income, past and future, resulting from the injuries inflicted by the medical mistakes during eye surgery, such as time lost at work or an inability to return to work because of a disability caused by the injury;
- Pain, suffering, and diminished quality of life and relationships due to the injuries caused in connection with eye surgery; and
- In some cases, punitive damages that punish a medical team’s particularly outrageous or reckless actions in connection with the eye surgery.
Lawyers cannot guarantee that their clients will recover damages in all of the categories above, nor can they promise the client will receive any particular amount of money. However, victims of medical malpractice in eye surgery can give themselves the best possible chance of obtaining the compensation they need and deserve by hiring an attorney who has years of experience litigating medical malpractice cases against eye doctors and their teams.
Settling an Eye Surgery Medical Malpractice Claim
Like all personal injury legal cases, most eye surgery medical malpractice claims get resolved through a negotiated settlement. A settlement, in a nutshell, is an agreement between the injured patient and the medical provider whose actions harmed them. In a typical settlement, the patient receives a payment—either in a lump sum or paid over time—in exchange for terminating any lawsuit the patient has filed and releasing the medical provider from further liability.
As we described above, medical malpractice claims often involve complicated procedures that do not necessarily apply in other types of personal injury cases. Among those is mandatory settlement discussions between the patient and the medical provider, sometimes overseen or facilitated by a trained mediator.
It takes a skilled attorney to guide a patient through these mandatory settlement discussions. In other types of personal injury cases, a lawyer for an injured client can often influence the time and place of any settlement talks.
In medical malpractice cases, however, the lawyer does not necessarily have the same ability to pick his spots to give his client maximum negotiating leverage. Instead, he must prepare for and participate in settlement discussions that happen whenever the law says they must happen.
Attorneys for patients injured by medical malpractice in eye surgery advise their clients about when and whether to accept settlement offers that come out of these discussions. Again, because medical malpractice cases can involve complicated medical topics, it takes an experienced and knowledgeable attorney to know when a settlement offer is fair, and when it does not represent an amount of money the client can and should reasonably expect to receive.
Going to Trial on an Eye Surgery Medical Malpractice Claim
Not all cases settle. Sometimes, an experienced medical malpractice lawyer will advise his client that the best course of action for recovering compensation for eye-surgery related injuries is to take the case before a judge and jury in a trial.
Again, going to trial on a claim related to medical malpractice in eye surgery requires the talents of a skilled and experienced medical malpractice lawyer. Errors in eye surgery can be difficult to explain to a non-doctor. To do a good job in the courtroom, lawyers for injured eye surgery patients must have a thorough understanding of the medical science, and the ability to simplify the concepts enough for any juror to make sense of them. It takes a rare blend of intelligence and street smarts to pull off that feat.
That is yet another reason why victims of medical errors in eye surgery should choose their lawyer carefully, and insist on counsel who has years of experience in medical malpractice cases and a reputation as a top-flight trial lawyer.
Affording an Eye Surgery Medical Malpractice Lawyer
A botched eye surgery puts injured patients and their families under enormous physical, emotional, and financial strain. The task of adapting to an unexpected injury that has caused serious life-disruption can feel overwhelming. Many people who find themselves in that difficult situation wonder how they can afford a lawyer.
Fortunately, they can. An initial consultation with a top-notch medical malpractice attorney costs injured patients and their families nothing. Lawyers for injured eye surgery patients understand the financial strain the injuries have caused. They want to make it as easy as possible for those patients to seek their help.
Additionally, when a medical malpractice lawyer and patient agree to work together on a legal claim seeking damages for the patient, the lawyer will virtually always work on contingency. This means the lawyer’s legal fee constitutes a percentage of the money the lawyer succeeds in recovering on the patient’s behalf. The patient pays the lawyer no money up-front, and the lawyer does not bill the client by the hour or by the task. In other words, the lawyer only gets paid if the client gets paid.
Lawyers work on contingency because they want to make their services accessible to anyone who has suffered a serious injury because of an eye doctor’s mistakes, not just to people wealthy enough to pay by the hour for their services.
So, never let financial concerns keep you from speaking with an experienced medical malpractice attorney about your injuries following a botched eye surgery.
Contact an Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today
Do not wait to seek the help of an experienced medical malpractice lawyer after you have a bad outcome from eye surgery. With skilled, caring legal guidance, you can obtain the compensation you need and deserve for your injuries and losses. However, the longer you wait, the more difficult that task may become. Act now to protect your legal rights and financial interests.