Can I Sue for “Botched” Plastic Surgery?
Brian White | January 10, 2016 | Medical Malpractice
Did you know up to 20% of people who get cosmetic surgery are disappointed with the results? Whether or not that’s the result of a botched surgery or because the patient’s perception is unclear, it still leaves many people unhappy with the thousands they’ve spent. If you feel the surgery was done incorrectly, you might wonder if you can sue. The short answer is yes, but there are some specific challenges you and your attorney will face.
Cosmetic Surgery and Medical Malpractice
A botched cosmetic surgery lawsuit would fall under the medical malpractice category. Medical malpractice suits are filed when a doctor, nurse, or other healthcare professional acts in a negligent way. This means he or she either acts in a way that indicates negligence or fails to act in a responsible manner towards the patient.
For example, leaving a scalpel in a patient, although it’s an accident, would be considered negligence. There are cases of cosmetic surgery that could be considered medical malpractice, but it can be a tricky road to navigate. Just because you’re unhappy with the surgery doesn’t make it malpractice.
Filing a Cosmetic Surgery Malpractice Claim
In essence, there are two arguments you can claim in a cosmetic surgery malpractice suit. The first is the surgeon in some way botched the operation due to a procedural error. Negligence can also occur after the surgery—for example, complications from anesthesia or post-operative injections that went wrong. The second argument would be that the surgeon was unskilled or lacked the proper certification. Cosmetic surgery is lucrative, and it’s not uncommon for unqualified surgeons to sneak their way into the business. For this reason, it’s vitally important to check a health care professional’s credentials before going under the knife.
Challenges in Cosmetic Surgery Cases
It’s particularly disappointing when patients undergoing cosmetic surgery don’t get the results they wanted. Cosmetic surgery is elective, and health insurance doesn’t usually pay for it. Unfortunately, the elective nature of cosmetic surgery poses some particular challenges in a medical malpractice suit. Because the surgery is elective, it sometimes results in a biased jury.
Sometimes the jury’s opinion will sway because they feel the plaintiff is vain or has excess money. This is known as Jury Prejudice. Still, this shouldn’t discourage you from taking action if you feel you’ve been treated in a negligent way.
Proving Negligence in a Cosmetic Surgery Case
If you do file a malpractice suit, you’ll be expected to prove a number of things in court. For example:
- You and your surgeon had an existing doctor/patient relationship.
- The surgeon acted in a negligent way, meaning he or she acted in a way a competent surgeon wouldn’t have.
- The act of negligence caused you injury.
- The injuries caused the damages you’re claiming.
Furthermore, there are statutes of limitations that vary from state to state. In Texas, you must file a personal injury suit within two years of the date of the injury. This usually means the date of the surgery, but there are rare cases where the injury isn’t discovered until afterward. Filing a medical malpractice suit for cosmetic surgery can be a challenge, but it’s possible with an experienced attorney.
Contact an Attorney with Experience in Plastic Surgery Malpractice
Although many medical malpractice attorneys can handle cases involving plastic surgery – you should choose an attorney that has extensive experience in the plastic surgery area. Because of the cosmetic nature of plastic surgery, proving liability can be difficult. Using attorney databases like Avvo or Justia can help you make the most informed decision possible.
DISCLAIMER: The content in this blog post (“post”) is meant for general informational purposes only. Publication of this post does not insure that Attorney Brian White & Associates offers representation for this type of case. Information found in the post does not constitute as formal legal advice and does not create an attorney/client relationship. It’s important to know that because of tort reform in Texas, it’s nearly impossible to pursue healthcare providers for 99% of these claims.