Surgery is a stressful and sometimes life-changing event. When something goes wrong and you require surgery, there are many preparations you’ll need to consider ahead of time. But what about after surgery? What if something goes wrong while you’re on the operating table?
If you’ve undergone surgery and have experienced damage to your nervous system as a result, you may be wondering if you can sue for nerve damage after your procedure. In this guide, we’ll talk about what nerve damage is and whether you may have a case in court.
What is Nerve Damage?
Nerve damage, as the name aptly implies, is any damage to your nervous system. There are quite a few circumstances that can cause damage to your nervous system. Sporting accidents or other trauma can be a cause. Diabetes and cancer are diseases that may cause nerve damage. Even excessive alcohol and drug use may cause you to experience this condition.
Nerves put simply, are the fibers within your body that transmit feelings to your brain or another part of your body. Pain, cold, and heat are just three examples of these feelings. When you experience nerve damage, these signals are impaired.
People who have nerve damage will exhibit one of several symptoms. These symptoms include:
- Numbness, especially in your extremities like your fingers and toes
- A sharp pain that may or may not be constant
- A new sensitivity to heat, cold or touch
- New muscle weakness
- A feeling of something touching your skin, even in the presence of nothing external
- Lack of bowel or bladder control
This is just a short list of symptoms of nerve damage. If you feel that something simply “doesn’t feel right,” speak to your medical professional immediately. If left untreated, nerve damage can worsen or even become permanent.
Nerve Damage Caused by Surgery
Every surgery is a complicated one. Whether you’re in the hospital for a cesarean section or for a triple bypass, you’re going to assume that there are risks involved. As you are admitted to the hospital, you already have that feeling that “anything could go wrong.” The “what ifs” flood your mind and it may be difficult for you to relax.
Often overlooked, however, is the possibility that something could go wrong after your surgery. The NIH estimates that between 10 and 40% of surgery patients experience nerve damage following an operation, even if it’s a fairly routine procedure.
There are two major contributors to nerve damage following surgery. Anesthesia is one. Sometimes this is a medical error. Other times your body may just not react well to the anesthetic.
The other contributor is surgical error. Surgical error is any mistake made by your medical team, whether they be accidental “slips” during the procedure or errors of omission. Most likely, nerve damage is caused because your surgeon is operating in very close physical proximity to your nerves.
Whether your nerve damage is caused by your anesthetics or your surgeon’s scalpel, it can absolutely be life changing for you. Again, it’s imperative that you seek medical attention immediately so as not to perpetuate or worsen your pain.
Can I Sue for Nerve Damage After Surgery?
If you’ve suffered nerve damage as a result of a surgery, there’s a fair chance that you’re eligible to file a lawsuit. There are certainly factors that you’ll have to consider, and which you can speak to your experienced attorney about. For example:
- Is the nerve damage permanent or will it abate on its own?
- Was your nerve damage directly caused by the error of your medical team?
- Will you lose wages due to your nerve damage?
- Is your quality of life lessened due to the medical error?
- Did the physician or surgeon have a duty of care to you, but then breached that responsibility?
These questions may sound complicated to you – even harrowing. If you’re experiencing nerve damage following a surgery, you need to contact an experienced attorney right away.
In your initial free consultation, you and your lawyer will review the details of your potential medical malpractice suit. Don’t worry – your legal team will help you answer all of the above questions.
Should you and your attorney decide that your best course of action is to go forward with a suit, you will have an advocate fighting for you to recover compensation for your nerve damage.
How Do I Choose a Medical Malpractice Lawyer?
If you’re suffering nerve damage as a result of a surgery, you may indeed qualify to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. We at Morgan & Morgan strongly discourage you from undertaking this path on your own, however.
Insurance companies and hospitals are quite the adversaries when you’re dealing with medical malpractice. It’s obviously in the best interest of the insurers to settle for as little as possible. And hospitals won’t benefit from admitting that their medical professionals erred.
You need to choose a medical malpractice lawyer that will fight for your best interests, even when others do not. There are a few characteristics of an attorney you would be well-advised to look for as you begin the hiring process.
- Your attorney is someone you feel comfortable speaking with. Medical cases can sometimes evoke strong emotional responses and will often involve your disclosure of personal information. Choose an attorney you trust – remember that your information will never be shared without your permission.
- Your lawyer should never promise any outcome to a case or lawsuit. We cannot guarantee that you will receive compensation. However, we can promise that we’ll fight for you in court.
- Your legal team is experienced. Would you hire a plumber who had never used Channel locks? You shouldn’t hire an attorney who’s never handled a medical malpractice suit.
- You feel comfortable that your attorney won’t pass your case off to an assistant or a paralegal. After all, this could be the most important event in your life. Shouldn’t your lawyer treat it as such?
Check reviews of attorneys and check their credentials and status with the Bar Association in your state. In the end, your attorney is going to be by your side for as long as your case is in court; be sure he or she is a good fit for you.
When you’ve suffered nerve damage as a result of surgery, you have questions. How did this happen? Who is responsible? Can I sue for the impact this has had on my life? Here are a few of the most commonly asked questions we’ve received from our medical malpractice clients.