Surgery is one of the most complex, demanding jobs there are. A surgeon must work with absolute precision because the slightest misstep could result in the death or the serious and irreversible injury of the patient—and often, that is exactly what happens. The practitioner who made the error is then open to a huge lawsuit in which either the victim himself or his loved ones try to get as much money as they can to compensate for the damage done. This article will explain the services provided by a typical surgical error lawyer, as well as how to pick the right one and how to work with him or her to get the maximum compensation to which you are entitled.
The most common errors and injuries
Errors can be made with any type of surgical procedure. However, some types are especially common. Those commonly listed on the websites of surgical error lawyers as examples of the types of cases they typically work include:
- sharp knifes, sponges, needles and other surgical instruments left within the body
- “wrong site” surgery—Hundreds of cases like these are reported in the United States every year
- nicked organs and excessive bleeding
- damage to the nerves
- unintended cuts or incisions made improperly
- anesthesia—The patient was improperly medicated at the time of the operation
In addition to errors committed in the surgical procedures themselves, others may be made by physicians in connection with them, such as:
- misdiagnosing an illness and consequently recommending an operation where none is needed
- delayed diagnosis—A physician has failed to prescribe the required procedure in time, resulting in a bad situation becoming worse; or he may have failed to properly diagnose an infection that resulted from an operation
The types of injuries—other than wrongful death—that are most commonly sustained as a result of surgical malpractice include:
- spinal cord injury
- damage to nerves or organs
- traumatic brain injury
- wrongful death
What to look for in a surgical error lawyer
The website of a lawyer of any kind will give a detailed list of the kinds of cases he handles, as well as descriptions of specific cases that he has taken and won in the past and news stories about the awards and recognitions that he has received. Many lawyers’ websites also include videos of them discussing what kinds of attorneys they are and what they do, and a newsletter and a blog may be included.
To compare different attorneys and determine which one is the best for you, ask around to learn about the reputation of each one. Find people who have enlisted that attorney’s services in the past and ask them what their opinions are regarding his competence and nature. Also find out about what fees each practitioner charges and consider whether you can afford to pay them.
How surgical error lawyers operate
The great majority of attorneys will provide a free consultation in order to determine the cause and nature of the injury, whether it would be a good idea to sue the other party in court or to go for an out-of-court settlement (as happens on the TV drama Fairly Legal), and how much money the victim could recover if the case is won. Lawyers generally will not charge a fee at all unless their clients win.
What to do in case of surgical malpractice
If you feel that you have been a victim of surgical malpractice, the time for action begins as soon as it can be taken, so that the true nature of your accident will not have become obscured by the passage of time. Even before attending to the business of getting an attorney, learn as much as you can about the history of cases that are similar to yours. Once you have chosen a lawyer, describe both the operation and your condition to him as completely and accurately as you can.
Attorneys who work on medical malpractice cases usually have medical experts who work for them. Allow that expert to take a look at your medical records and have him write in the greatest possible detail what he has discovered about your condition, for such a report makes all the difference between a lawsuit that goes through and one that fails. Notify your own physician about your lawsuit so that he too can testify. The lawyer should write up a summons claim for the court.