When a chiropractor makes a life-altering mistake, patients have the right to sue them for damages. Sometimes chiropractors manipulate a patient’s body until they have severe pain. Sometimes their major mistakes can even cause strokes. Chiropractic patients understandably expect to be cured by the hands of a medical professional, not further injured. People who suspect their chiropractor has caused them harm and want compensation for their misbehavior should familiarize themselves with the primary causes of chiropractic malpractice cases. By reviewing the most common chiropractic negligence cases, you’ll have a better understanding of what behaviors constitute malpractice.
Failure To Diagnose a Medical Condition That Requires Immediate Care
Just like any other medical professional, chiropractors are required by law to put the patient’s health above everything else. To that end, chiropractors must analyze the symptoms causing a patient’s ailment and refer them to other professionals for immediate medical care when necessary. Even if chiropractors were to lose money by making referrals, that is exactly what they must do. If they fail to do so, they may be liable for an injury.
For instance, if a chiropractor treats a patient for a compression in the spine when their symptoms indicate a potential heart attack, the chiropractor may be liable for that patient’s death if they die from the overlooked heart attack.
Lack of Informed Consent
Chiropractors must inform their patients of the potential risks associated with their treatment before they begin. If they fail to do so, they could be liable for their injuries.
For instance, some people may go to chiropractors for issues with upper back and neck pain. The chiropractor may offer some initial relief, but they then might go to a doctor for pain in their thumb and index finger. If they are surprised to learn that the newfound pain in their hand is a possible complication of their chiropractic treatment, then that chiropractor may be liable for malpractice. These kinds of errors make up some of the most common chiropractic negligence cases.
Negligent Manipulation of the Body
Negligent manipulation of the body happens when a chiropractic treatment creates new injuries or worsens old ones. Some of these injuries may include:
- Broken ribs
- Herniated discs
- Nerve damage
- Fractured vertebrae
- Pinched nerves
- Neck pain
- Sciatic nerve pain
- Lower back pain
Also, pregnant patients may go into labor earlier than expected as a result of negligent chiropractic manipulation.
Unnecessary Medical Treatment
This applies to every person working in the medical field. If a patient receives substandard care from unnecessary treatments, the chiropractor may be liable for any resulting injuries. Arguably, if the medical treatment was not necessary, then the patient did not grant their consent for the procedure. In order for a chiropractor to receive full consent, the patient must understand the procedure, its risks, and other important information. When a doctor misinforms a patient about the necessity of a procedure, that conduct might constitute medical malpractice because the patient was not given all the necessary information.
Chiropractic Induced Stroke
When a chiropractor manipulates the neck, they occasionally damage an artery that brings blood to the brain. When this happens, the patient may experience a stroke. Unfortunately, there are hundreds of instances when aggressive chiropractic practices have led to strokes. Experts say the known number of victims is an underestimate because most doctors do not ask stroke victims if they have been under the care of a chiropractor.
Damages for Chiropractic Malpractice
People who have fallen victim to chiropractic malpractice need to understand the damages they can collect for their injuries. Damages are the compensation for which people base their lawsuits. When a person sues for a chiropractor’s mistakes, they are requesting the court to compel the chiropractor to pay back whatever they lost as a result of that mistake. That dollar amount is considered the case’s “damages.” A few ways a person can accrue damages in a chiropractic malpractice case include:
- Medical expenses to fix whatever problems the chiropractor caused or exacerbated
- Lost wages due to all the time away from work the plaintiff lost while mending their problem
- The household services they paid for to keep them functional during their recovery
- Pain and suffering
Working with an attorney, people who have suffered at the hands of a chiropractor can reach a dollar amount for their lawsuit.
Filing a Lawsuit
In most states, if a plaintiff wants to sue a chiropractor, they must understand and follow the rules of medical malpractice lawsuits. They may be a little complicated, but patients must follow these rules nonetheless. Failure to follow the rules of a medical malpractice lawsuit may cause the case to be thrown out immediately.
Different states have different rules. For instance, in some states, before they can file a lawsuit, the plaintiff must give the defendant chiropractor notice that they plan to sue and on what basis. They must give an expert opinion explaining how the defendant did not meet their standard of care. Other states demand that the plaintiff send their case to a panel for review before they can file a lawsuit.
To put it simply, filing a lawsuit for malpractice is difficult, painstaking work. It should not be treated as a “do-it-yourself” operation. The complexity of the lawsuit and the lengthy litigation process cannot be accomplished easily without a lawyer. For that reason, patients who believe they have a malpractice case against a chiropractor should speak to a lawyer as their first course of action. Working alongside a trained, educated professional can avoid a great deal of trouble and lost time.
Although chiropractors often do wonderful work for people in need, they also have the potential to do tremendous damage. People on the receiving end of poor chiropractic work may have a malpractice case on their hands. Whether it is a failure to diagnose a medical problem or a lack of informed consent, unnecessary treatments or a chiropractic induced stroke, people every day are injured by their chiropractors. If you think you may be one of these people, you should work alongside an attorney to see if you have a case.
Also, chiropractors need chiropractic malpractice insurance to protect themselves from these lawsuits.