If a surgical error injures you, you can seek compensation. With a surgical error attorney by your side, you may recover sizable damages.
At Zayed Law Offices, we have experience with medical malpractice cases. Just recently, attorney Adam J. Zayed helped a surgical error victim receive $950,000 in a medical malpractice lawsuit. While we cannot guarantee specific results, contact us today to see what we can do for you and your case.
Our Joliet surgical error attorneys work on a contingency fee basis to help you obtain fair compensation. Call us today for a free case evaluation.
Surgical Errors: Definition
With medical mistakes being the third leading cause of death in the United States, each operation can carry a significant risk. More than 4,000 surgical errors occur in the United States every year.
A surgical error occurs when the medical staff makes a preventable mistake during the operation. These errors can range in severity and lead to different consequences, from minor inflammation to death.
When a person goes into surgery, they prepare for a range of possible complications. However, they do not usually worry about human or administrative errors. Unfortunately, mistakes happen more often than you may think.
Preventable mistakes usually occur due to negligence. That is why if you or your loved one sustained injuries due to a surgical error, you could usually recover damages.
Responsible Parties in a Surgical Error Lawsuit
While surgeons are commonly to blame for surgical errors, they are not the only people who could be held responsible.
Surgical errors can occur before and after the procedure as well as inside the operating room.
- Anesthesiologist - an anesthesiologist may deliver the wrong dosage of the anesthesia or fail to study the patient's medical history and cause an allergic reaction.
- Nurse - a nurse can deliver the wrong dosage of medication or give entirely wrong drugs. They can also use malfunctioning IV equipment.
- Hospital staff - while this rarely happens, a clerical mistake and miscommunication could cause the surgeon to operate on the wrong patient.
The surgeon is usually responsible for the mistake when they:
- Leave surgical supplies inside the patient.
- Hurt nearby organs, sever a muscle, or cause nerve damage.
- Operate on the wrong organ or body part.
Finding all responsible healthcare professionals may be complicated. A surgical error attorney would need to conduct a private investigation to do it.
Discovering at-fault parties on your own is possible. However, the time and effort it takes may be overwhelming, especially for someone recovering from an injury.
Proving Negligence in a Surgical Error Case
Proving negligence is the key to obtaining damages in a surgical error lawsuit. You may think that a surgeon's fault is obvious. However, the insurance company or the judge may not always see it this way.
That is why it is imperative to demonstrate the at-fault party's negligent behavior.
The four components of negligence in a medical malpractice lawsuit are:
- Legal duty of care - the defendant should have a legal duty of care to the plaintiff. In a surgical error case, it means that the patient should have hired the medical professional who made the error. Once the surgeon agrees to a professional relationship with the patient, they automatically have a legal duty of care to act to the best of their ability.
- Breach of the legal duty of care - you have to present evidence and expert witness testimonies to prove that a competent surgeon would not have made the same mistake in the same circumstances.
- Causation - you need to demonstrate evidence to prove that the breach of the legal duty of care caused your injuries. For example, the surgeon left surgical supplies inside your body, and this led to inflammation.
- Damages - to recover damages, you have to prove they exist. For example, the inflammation led to additional medical and surgical expenses.
The right approach to proving negligence directly affects your case's integrity. You would need to gather a significant amount of evidence, hire expert witnesses, and prepare solid arguments. Doing all the above on your own can be complicated.
By hiring a surgical error attorney, you gain access to their expertise and experience. Legal professionals know how to demonstrate negligence in your case.
Medical Malpractice Laws to Know in Joliet
You need to know several legal nuances to file a surgical error claim in Joliet. Learning all you can about medical malpractice laws can help you strengthen your case.
Statute of Limitations
According to the statute of limitations, in Joliet, you only have two years to file a surgical error lawsuit. The clock starts running from the moment you learn or, through reasonable diligence, should have learned about the surgical error.
No matter how late you find out about the error, you only have four years to file a claim after it occurs.
The exceptions to the statute include:
- Age - if the victim of a surgical error is under 18 years of age, they have up to eight years from the surgery to file a claim. However, the patient must file the claim before turning 22.
- Fraud - if the at-fault party committed fraud to hide their responsibility, the statute of limitations may extend to five years.
- Incapacitation - if the patient is physically or mentally incapacitated, the clock can start running when they can proceed with the lawsuit.
Do not wait too long to file a claim after discovering the error. The longer you put this off, the harder it could be to prove your case. After the four-year deadline, it becomes nearly impossible to obtain compensation.
The Affidavit of Merit
In Illinois, when filing a medical malpractice claim, you also need to attach an Affidavit of Merit (also called Certificate of Merit). This document states that you consulted an experienced healthcare professional who believes that there are grounds for your medical malpractice case.
You can use this witnesses' testimony when presenting your case in court. You may also need to find other expert witnesses to support your arguments.
The Affidavit of Merit is a compulsory document, without which the case cannot proceed. If you fail to provide it within 90 days after filing a claim, the judge can dismiss the case.
Collateral Source Rule
According to the collateral source rule, the defendant cannot present any evidence demonstrating that the plaintiff already collected compensation from other parties.
For example, if you collect damages from an insurance company and then decide to sue the surgeon personally, the surgeon cannot argue that you already received compensation.
Damages in the Surgical Error Lawsuit
To obtain maximum possible compensation in a surgical error lawsuit, you need to understand that you can recover.
- Economic damages - these damages include all the expenses related to rectifying the surgical error. For example, medical bills, at-home care, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, therapy, new surgery expenses, and more. To recover as much as possible, you need to present evidence of past and present expenses. You can also hire an expert witness to prove that you will face these costs in the future.
- Non-economic damages - these damages have to do with emotional suffering from the surgical error. For example, mental anguish, loss of consortium, pain and suffering, and more. While you cannot provide tangible evidence to prove these damages, you can hire expert witnesses, provide journals, and demonstrate how your life has changed due to this error.
- Wrongful death damages - if a loved one dies due to a surgical error, you can get compensation for pre-death medical expenses, new surgery costs, loss of companionship, loss of inheritance, funeral costs, and similar losses.
In rare cases, a judge may award punitive damages if the defendant demonstrated highly outrageous negligence.
A surgical error attorney can gather all the necessary evidence, hire witnesses, and prove your need for a high compensation amount.
Steps to Take After Discovering a Surgical Error
If you believe that a surgical error led to a complication, you need to act quickly.
Here are a few things you can do as soon as possible.
- Get a professional medical opinion - speak to a medical expert about the possibility of a surgical error. You need one or several doctors to support your theory. Later on, you can use their help to file the Affidavit of Merit, which will get the case going.
- Contact an attorney - high-quality legal advice is the key to winning your surgical error case. After learning about the mistake, each step you take can bring you closer to recovering damages. Without a lawyer, you can make unfortunate mistakes and miss your chance of getting the money you deserve. At Zayed Law Offices, we offer free case evaluations. You can find out whether you have a case before retaining a lawyer.
- Start the treatment - your health is your top priority. Start treating the problem as soon as it occurs. Do not forget to document all medical manipulations carefully. It will serve as evidence in your medical malpractice lawsuit.
- Collect evidence - proving negligence is tough. Each piece of the collected evidence could turn into a deciding factor for the judge. From medical bills to expert witness depositions, you cannot miss anything important. Collecting evidence is time-consuming. An attorney can handle it while you are focusing on your treatment.
- Determine the damages - damages you may be entitled to are not always obvious. Ask your surgical error attorney to evaluate past, present, and future damages. You need to understand how much money to fight for.
Do not wait too long to act. The sooner you start legal action, the more likely you are to achieve a better outcome.
FAQs About Joliet Surgical Errors
What should I do when a doctor makes a mistake during surgery?
You should speak to another healthcare professional and obtain a medical report. Then you can contact a lawyer and initiate a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Will the surgeon go to jail for the surgical error?
When sued for medical malpractice, surgeons do not usually go to jail. However, they can also be charged with manslaughter, resulting in a severe sentence.
Why do surgical errors happen?
The most common reasons for surgical errors are poor communication, bad planning, surgeon's fatigue, unqualified medical staff, and incompetence. All the above causes can become the basis for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Can I win a medical malpractice case without an attorney?
No. You would need to spend too much time researching legal issues, collecting documents, speaking to witnesses, and negotiating with insurance companies. Eventually, you are likely to get less money than you deserve, if anything. In the worst case, you can lose your shot at compensation.
How much money can I get in a surgical error lawsuit?
The amount depends on the extent of your injuries, the expertise of your attorney, and the amount of evidence you can present.
How Zayed Surgical Error Lawyers in Joliet Can Help You
At Zayed Law Offices, we have many years of experience helping surgical error victims. If you are ready to seek compensation, you need an attorney in your corner.
Our medical malpractice attorneys can:
- Provide a free case evaluation - before you hire our legal team, we can let you know how viable your case is. We want to make sure you know what to expect.
- Conduct an investigation - we investigate your case, find responsible parties, and collect evidence.
- Collect and file documents - medical malpractice cases involve tons of paperwork. Collecting and filing documents on time is an integral part of the lawsuit's success. Our attorneys make sure nothing slips through the cracks.
- Negotiate with the insurance company - we take care of tough and time-consuming negotiations while keeping your best interests in mind.
- Represent you in court - if the case goes to court, you need professional legal representation. We are ready to present your case to the judge or jury in the most efficient manner possible.
Our Joliet personal injury lawyers know how unsettling lawsuits can be, especially while you are recovering from injuries or grieving a loss of a loved one. That is why we accompany our clients through the entire case, providing both legal and emotional support. Call our Joliet offices at (815) 726-1616 or send us a message through our contact page. We'll give you a free case evaluation and let you know if we can help you seek compensation.