Chiropractors are popular with many people suffering back pain or immobility. However, incompetent chiropractors can cause more harm than good, causing serious injuries and possibly death. Helpfully, injured victims might be able to receive financial compensation if they sue their chiropractor. At Sibley Dolman Gipe Accident Injury Lawyers, PA, we rely on our decades of experience proving that chiropractors fell below the required medical standard of care.
How Chiropractors Can Injure You
Chiropractors adjust patient’s spines to relieve pressure and pain or to correct misalignments. A skilled chiropractor can be a big benefit. But an incompetent chiropractor can harm you, for example in the following ways:
Negligent adjustments. The chiropractor might injure a patient or make a pre-existing condition worse. You might suffer:
- Nerve damage, including injury to your sciatic nerve
- Broken ribs
- Slipped discs
- Herniated discs
- Facial paralysis
- Neck pain
- Premature delivery (if you are pregnant)
Another problem deserves special mention: stroke. Chiropractors can induce a stroke when their manipulations block or rupture arteries to the brain. A blood clot can form, which cuts off oxygen to the brain, resulting in a stroke.
- Failure to diagnose. A serious problem might be causing your back pain, such as cancer, or you might suffer from blocked arteries. Like other medical professionals, a chiropractor owes a duty of care to warn you of problems that require immediate medical treatment. Although the chiropractor does not need to provide that treatment, he should bring it to your attention and tell you to see a doctor. When the chiropractor fails to diagnose a serious problem, they might be responsible for your injuries.
- Lack of informed consent. Before beginning to work on you, a chiropractor must disclose all risks associated with treatment, so that you can make an informed decision. If they don’t, they might be legally responsible for your injuries.
Standard of Care
Chiropractors will only be liable for your injuries if their care fell below the required medical standard of care. In Florida, chiropractors must meet the standard of care that is accepted in the chiropractic profession. This standard does not require that chiropractors be perfect, but it does require that they be competent.
Whether a chiropractor met the standard of care is a complicated analysis that depends on what facts the chiropractor knew at the time they treated you. For example, if you suffer from osteoporosis and don’t tell your chiropractor, then they can’t be expected to know that fact.
Challenges Facing Victims Who Sue
You face some advantages if you bring a medical malpractice lawsuit against a chiropractor. For one, the public has historically viewed chiropractors fairly negatively. Once survey from the 1990s found them rated as less trustworthy than lawyers. If you end up in court, the jury will probably be on your side, which is not always the case if you sue a medical doctor or nurse.
Second, some chiropractors can become arrogant when on the witness stand. In fact, they might be sensitive that a lawyer is questioning their medical credentials, so they might snap back or behave in a way that reduces their credibility.
However, there are some challenges you will face when you bring your lawsuit, and you should be aware of them. For example, the chiropractor can blame your pain on your pre-existing injury. The entire reason you went to the chiropractor in the first place is that you were feeling pain in your back probably as a result of some injury. If you go into court claiming the chiropractor hurt you, he can always claim you are suffering from the effects of your pre-existing injury.
Furthermore, chiropractor malpractice only occasionally results in serious injuries. Often, some additional back pain is not enough to receive meaningful compensation. Nevertheless, you should not assume that you don’t have a case. Instead, consult with a medical malpractice lawyer who can analyze all of the facts to see whether you can bring a lawsuit.
Begin Building Your Case
To help yourself, you should begin gathering information as soon as possible. Lawsuits require evidence, and your lawyer will want to see what quality evidence you have before advising you whether to sue. For example, a lawyer will want to see:
- The names and contact information of anyone who has treated you
- Medical records
- Chiropractor records
- A written narrative from your perspective about the treatment you have received and what risks were disclosed to you
- Medical bills for any treatment you have received for your injuries
- A summary of your current health, including the location and severity of any pain
Your medical malpractice lawyer can help you collect some of this information after being hired, but the more you can find yourself the better. At your consultation, your lawyer can review this information and identify whether you have a valid legal claim.
Compensation Available in a Chiropractic Malpractice Lawsuit
If you are successful in your lawsuit, you can receive compensation for economic and non-economic injuries. The purpose of the compensation is to put you in the position you would be had the malpractice never occurred.
Economic injuries can be measured in dollars and cents and include things like:
- Medical care
- Rehabilitation treatment
- Therapist bills
- Lost wages
Hold onto all bills and receipts to show your lawyer. If you couldn’t work because of your injury, show proof of income to your lawyer, such as a recent pay stub.
You might also be entitled to damages for non-economic injuries. These injuries are harder to quantify; nevertheless, you have suffered a serious loss that warrants financial compensation:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress, such as depression, fear, anxiety, sleeplessness, and irritability
- Negative changes to your marriage, such as loss of care or sexual intimacy
The amount of compensation you can receive will depend on a variety of factors, including the severity of your injuries and how well you have documented your pain and suffering or emotional distress. Each case is different, and not all injured victims receive all of the damages listed above.
Call a Clearwater, Florida Medical Malpractice Lawyer
If you put your trust in a chiropractor, you deserve compensation when they injure you. To schedule a free consultation with one of our lawyers, call 727-451-6900 or send an email through our contact form.