Nerve damage creates some of the most damaging injuries and challenging lawsuits. Nerve injuries can be very complicated, and affect multiple aspects of a person’s life after the injury. Nerve injury can be the result of birth injuries or workplace accidents, among others.
Many times nerve injuries are complications from surgery. When surgeons are working close to bundles of nerves, even the smallest mistake can damage or sever a nerve. Furthermore, hospitals and clinics must make sure that surgical equipment is cleaned impeccably before an operation; anything other than a completely sterile instrument can infect a nerve irreparably.
The issues that can arise from nerve injuries can vary, whether it is mild or severe. There can also be many factors leading up to and contributing to nerve damage, which further complicates the issue. Amount of damage, extent of life effects, and career impact of the injury all play a role in how the case is handled and what needs to happen to pursue a lawsuit. A qualified legal expert can guide you through these complexities.
Nerve Damage Types:
- Neurapraxia – a type of nerve damage that is less severe in nature and typically curable within a few months of proper treatment.
- Axonotmesis – a type of nerve damage that is a bit more severe and results in loss of motor functions or paralysis.
- Neurotmesis - a type of nerve damage that is the most severe form and results in permanent disabilities that have major life effects.
Complications from Nerve Damage Include:
- Limitations on movement
- Brain trauma
- Headaches and migraines
- Heart murmurs or cardiac arrest
- Respiratory problems
- Wrongful death
There are three primary methods of how anesthesia is administered: locally, regionally, and generally. If any of these methods are not administered correctly, it may lead to nerve injuries.
Local anesthesia must be injected via a syringe and precise measurements must be made to ensure the needle does not come in to contact with any nerves.
Regional anesthesia is usually injected into the spinal column. If not done correctly, an injection in this area could lead to devastating nerve damage.
General anesthesia could also result in nerve injuries if it is not executed correctly. A mistake with this type of anesthesia could result in regaining consciousness and pain reception during surgical procedures, meaning the body would pick up on any indication of discomfort or pain and this can result is post-surgical complications, as well.Establishing Surgical Malpractice
If a surgical error happens, the patient may sue for malpractice. To establish this, the patient has to show the doctor was reckless during the surgery or did not demonstrate a generally acceptable standard of care. Medical malpractice will also require proving the doctor directly caused the injury or damage during the operation.
A surgeon or medical provider is liable when they do not deliver quality patient care. This also refers to the medical community’s accepted standard of care, determining if the doctor is or is not capable. This will mean getting an expert opinion to show that the surgeon was negligent and did not provide the patient with proper care.
A patient filing a malpractice suit has to show the surgeon failed to meet the accepted standard of surgical care. Also, the patient has to demonstrate that the surgeon’s negligence caused them irreparable damage and that they are responsible for future costs, as well as compensation for pain and suffering.
For cases of nerve injury, the pain does not have to be especially severe. This is because the nature of nerve injuries can range from losing sensation to causing intense, long-term pain. Therefore, the criteria for nerve injury can range from mild to debilitating. For a less severe case, a large settlement may not be likely, but the pain, however small, is still worth compensating.Case Law
Nerve injury cases often involve other legal components as well. If the nerve damage resulted from an injury in the workplace then the lawsuit will also include the filing and inclusion of a worker’s compensation case. If the injury was the result of a slip and fall accident in a business, or other accident as a result of negligence on a commercial or resident property, then the case could cross over into premises liability. Nerve damage resulting from medical malpractice then results in going up against the teams of lawyers medical facilities often keep on retainer. Because of the variety of factors that can go into nerve injury cases, complications can quickly mount. This doesn’t make a case impossible or imply that the challenges become insurmountable, but it does mean you need the right legal aid on your side.Important Things to Consider
Severe nerve damage can result in long-term and expensive medical treatments. Therefore, when pursuing a nerve injury lawsuit, your lawyer must help you investigate all the ways that this injury is currently affecting your life, and how it will continue to do so into the future. Damages are awarded based on the severity and impact of the injury, as well as the liability placed upon the at-fault party.
Proper documentation is important in establishing a case of this type. Diagnostic testing can assess impairment to nerves and extent of the injury. This type of testing is further supported with expert medical testimony, to help better establish the objective elements of the lawsuit. Then, the plaintiff (the injured party) will testify as to the effects of the injury on his or her life, including the present and future complications of living with the injury. These factors will then be used to determine the amount of award. Amount can vary widely, because the factors and effects in these cases can be so widely varied.
Potentially Costly Medical Procedures Include:
- Nerve graft surgeries
- Nerve transfer surgeries
- Physical therapy
- Massage therapy
- Medication therapies
Damages awards in the state of California can include compensation for financial, emotional, and interpersonal difficulties following injury. This is because, in California, a victim’s pain and suffering damages are considered part of a broader category, referred to as “non-economic” damages. These damages can include future medical expenses, loss of relationships, and emotional distress.Important Legislation
Landmark cases may start small and gain momentum. This can happen in circumstances where one plaintiff brings forward a case that then opens the door to other people coming forward with similar issues. This could mean multiple patients who experienced nerve damage after surgery with a particular doctor or, as in the case of one woman who filed a case with the California Federal Court, the discovery of adverse side effects improperly disclosed.
Although following the proper instructions for taking the drug, one woman experienced peripheral neuropathy – or nerve damage – after a prescribed course of antibiotics. Although the antibiotic listed potential adverse effects, the court ruling deemed the associated warning label was incorrect in its suggested level of seriousness related to the onset, duration, and type of side effects capable of being experienced. Since the initial case was brought forth, multiple other injured parties have brought forth cases against the same antibiotic for the resulting nerve injury damage they incurred.Frequently Asked Questions
What is my Case Worth?
Although a lawyer can discuss the potential payout associated with a nerve damage case, the only way to truly know the award of a settlement comes when damages are awarded after causation and associated injury
What if my Nerve Damage is the Result of a Hospital Stay; can I Sue the Hospital?
While the short answer is ‘yes,’ ultimately the case must be investigated in order to determine the at-fault parties, the direct cause of the nerve injury, and how to best proceed. Seeking a consultation is your best first step in any case.
How do I Know if I Have Nerve Damage?
Nerves carry out a lot of functions in our bodies, from controlling involuntary bodily functions (like blood pressure and respiratory rate) to carrying instructions from our brain to our body for voluntary movements to sending signals from our body to our brain and back again to let us know what sensations we’re experiencing. Damage to nerves can have a lot of negative and painful effects. There are diagnostic tests that can help determine if the cause of your pain or discomfort is the result of nerve damage.How We can Help
A qualified team of legal experts can help you prove loss of enjoyment damages and that the nerve damage injury keeps you from doing the things you once loved to do, but no longer can. Malpractice insurance companies will often want to make it “go away.” By contrast, we advocate for our clients to get the best settlement possible. We know the difference between a fair settlement and a low-ball offer. We will not stop fighting for you until your case gets the best outcome and you receive justice. We will fight for the best medical treatment, compensation, and consideration for your time and this disruption to your family’s lives.
We will work on a contingency basis, which means there is no cost to you. Give us a call today for a free consultation, in less than 30 minutes; we will know if we can win together with you.