Everyone makes mistakes, even surgeons. Fortunately, most surgical mistakes are minor and do not cause any serious or lasting harm to the patient. Making a surgical error does not constitute surgical malpractice, but administering substandard medical treatment that results in harm to the patient does. Both criteria must be met for you to win damages for medical malpractice. In other words, if you have received substandard surgical care, but have come out of the surgical experience unharmed, you do not have a viable surgical malpractice case. Substandard care is defined as care below the level of care a surgeon with similar training and experience would provide under similar circumstances. If you have been the victim of surgical malpractice in Nashville, at the Vanderbilt Hospital or in Middle Tennessee, Cummings Law is the place to seek legal counsel. Brian Cummings is an accomplished surgical malpractice attorney who has compassion for your plight as well as excellent negotiation and litigation skills. He will work tirelessly to get you the compensation you deserve.
Surgical Errors That Have Occurred
It is possible for surgical errors to occur during even minor surgical procedures. Patients in Tennessee, as well as throughout the country, have suffered awful consequences as a result of surgical mistakes, such as:
- Severed nerves that may result in loss of sensation or paralysis
- Anesthesia errors that may cause brain damage or excessive pain during surgery
- Surgical equipment left inside the patient (e.g. sponges, scalpels, clamps)
- An incision at the wrong site on the body
- Wrong body part excision, such as the removal a healthy breast, kidney, or limb
- Wrong surgical procedure due to patient mix-up (lack of preoperative verification)
Cummings Law understands the horrible physical pain, as well as the emotional anguish, you are suffering if you have been the victim of surgical malpractice. Even though you are informed about risks prior to any surgical procedure and required to sign an “informed consent” document before going under the knife, the surgical errors discussed here go well beyond any complication you may have been prepared for. Surgical errors also result in fatalities for which our office can help you file a successful wrongful death claim. While nothing can replace your lost loved one, at least you and your family will receive substantial compensation and some measure of justice.
Reasons for Surgical Malpractice
No reason is sufficient to justify surgical malpractice which is why, if you are a patient who has been seriously harmed during surgery, you are entitled to receive substantial compensation. Nonetheless, it is a good idea to understand possible reasons behind the inexcusable mistake.
Surgical errors may occur because of:
- Incompetence due to inexperience
- Insufficient preparation for the procedure and its possible complications
- Dangerous shortcuts taken during surgery
- Poor communication among medical personnel relative to surgical site, patient’s name, prescription dosage or other essential information
- Fatigue due to widespread long surgical shifts
- Impairment by alcohol or drugs
- Inattention or neglect
When a surgeon doesn’t take the profession seriously, doesn’t realize that he or she literally holds the patient’s life in his or her hands, terrible things can happen. If they have happened to you or a loved one, get in touch with Cummings Law as soon as possible while evidence has not yet been covered up or discarded, and while witnesses’ memories are still sharp.
Types of Damages You May Be Awarded When We Win Your Case
Suffering a surgical malpractice injury is always distressing and often life-altering. The state recognizes that patients deserve compensation for the mistreatment they have endured while in the hands of people they had reason to trust with their care. There are several types of damages the patient may be awarded:
Economic damages reimburse financial costs that have been paid by the patient or will have to be paid in the future. These include medical and rehabilitative expenses, lost present and future income, and costs related to long-term disability.
Non-economic damages are reimbursements for consequences of mistreatment harder to assign monetary value, such as pain and suffering, impairment or disfigurement, loss of consortium, or loss of enjoyment of life. Brian Cummings is experienced at determining non-economic damages based on legal guidelines. Though the real costs of non-economic damages are incalculable, receiving such compensation will hopefully provide you with acknowledgement of the trauma you have been through due to the negligence of another.
Punitive Damages are only awarded in cases in which the defendant’s behavior is particularly egregious — malicious, intentional, fraudulent or reckless. If the medical professional responsible for your injury and pain was impaired by drugs or alcohol, intentionally cut corners resulting in substandard care, or attempted to conceal his or her misdeeds by altering or destroying medical records, you may receive punitive damages. Punitive damages are designed both to punish the offender and to prevent others from engaging in similar misconduct.
Determining Fault in Tennessee
The laws determining fault in personal injury cases differ from one state to another, so it is important that you have a Tennessee medical malpractice attorney working on your case. Brian Cummings has in-depth knowledge of Tennessee Modified Comparative Fault law, though this law, designed to be implemented when both parties in a lawsuit bear some of the blame, doesn’t often apply in medical malpractice cases. Nonetheless, a patient may be considered to bear some of the blame for a medical mistake if he or she neglected to fully disclose known medical history or personal behavior. In such cases, if the patient is found to be more than 50 percent responsible for the incident, he or she will be unable to receive any compensation. If the patient is found to be under 50 percent responsible, the amount of the award will be lessened by the percentage of the patient’s determined fault.
Caps on Damages in Tennessee
Like many other states, Tennessee places a cap on medical malpractice damages, but only on non-economic ones. In Tennessee, non-economic damages are capped at $750,000 for all types of medical malpractice, including healthcare liability actions. Exceptions are made, however, for catastrophic injuries, in which case the cap on damages is raised to $1 million. According to Tennessee law, catastrophic injuries include:
- Spinal cord injuries resulting in paralysis
- Amputation of two hands, two feet, or one of each
- Third-degree burns covering 40 percent or more of the body or face
- Wrongful death of a parent of a minor child or children
In Tennessee, there is no cap on damages if:
- The defendant had a specific intent to inflict serious physical injury
- The defendant intentionally falsified, destroyed, or concealed pertinent records
- The defendant was under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the offense
Contact Our Nashville Surgical Malpractice Lawyer
At Cummings Law, we are well aware of how awful it is for the patient when surgery goes wrong. In most cases, surgery is performed as a last resort to resolve a medical issue. When the problem is worsened by a surgical error or when a new and terrible injury or illness is caused by the mistreatment, you have every right to be compensated for all of your financial losses as well as for the increased misery you have gone through. Brian Cummings is a savvy negotiator and an aggressive litigator who will see to it that you obtain every dollar you deserve. Because there is a statute of limitations for filing surgical malpractice lawsuits, you should consult with us as soon as possible. You can reach us by phone or by filling out a contact form on our website.