Can I File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit for an Eye Injury?

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Even the most routine eye surgery can be very daunting if there is even the slightest chance that something could go wrong. The prospect of losing one’s eyesight or suffering other irreparable damage to one’s eyes can be devastating. Every medical procedure comes with a certain degree of risk, and eye surgeries are no different. However, when a patient is injured as a result of medical negligence, he or she may pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit against the eye surgeon responsible for the negligent care. A skilled medical malpractice lawyer can assist the patient with the claims process and ensure that he or she reaches a successful settlement.

Like other health care professionals, eye surgeons are legally and ethically obligated to provide the medical standard of care to all patients. That means that the eye surgeon must deliver the quality of care that another qualified health care professional would provide under similar circumstances.  However, an eye doctor practicing in a rural health facility may not be expected to provide the level of care of a doctor who is an eye specialist at a major university. However, the standard of care for eye surgery should not vary widely, regardless of the medical environment.

What are Examples of Common Eye-Related Malpractice Errors?

Eye surgeons and other medical professionals who treat patients with eye-related issues can commit malpractice in a number of ways. The following are examples of some of the most common types of malpractice in eye surgery:

  • Misdiagnosis: This occurs when the eye doctor makes a mistake when diagnosing the patient’s condition. Not only does this potentially lead to unnecessary surgeries, but also it can delay the treatment of the patient’s actual condition, in which case the condition could progress and become more difficult to treat.
  • Lack of informed consent: Before proceeding with any type of treatment or procedure, eye doctors must discuss the risks associated with the surgery so that the patient can make an informed decision about his or her care. Eye doctors must also discuss all other treatment options, including the risks associated with those treatments. If the doctor fails to inform the patient of these risks and he or she suffers an injury during surgery, the patient may pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit.
  • Surgical errors: In some cases, surgical errors can occur that are not considered negligent. However, an eye surgeon would be considered negligent if he or she made the following mistakes during an eye surgery:
    – Operating on the wrong eye
    – Causing damage to the eye while using a surgical implement
    – Failing to perform the procedure correctly
  • Sterilization errors: When performing any type of surgical procedure, it is crucial that all the surgical instruments are sterilized to prevent infections. The eye is particularly vulnerable to infections, and an infection in the eye can spread quickly to other parts of the body. If the eye doctor fails to properly sterilize the equipment prior to the surgery, the patient could suffer a very serious infection.

What are the Common Eye Conditions that Require Surgery?

There are a range of conditions that may require a patient to undergo eye surgery. These are generally routine procedures, but if the eye doctor makes a negligent mistake, fails to maintain the standard of care, or was responsible for the patient developing a preventable infection, the patient may wish to pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit. The following are examples of some of the most common eye surgeries:

  • Lasik eye surgery: Although this procedure is an effective way to correct vision, it is considered an elective surgery, so it is generally not covered by insurance. Owing to the high cost, many patients seek treatment from less-than-reputable doctors who perform the surgery at a lower cost. If the procedure is not performed correctly, the patient can end up with extremely dry eyes or diminished vision. All patients are not necessarily good candidates for Lasik surgery, so it is important that the eye doctor determines whether the surgery is right for the patient based on his or her medical history and other important information.
  • Glaucoma: This occurs when there is a buildup of pressure in the fluid that fills the eye. Malpractice occurs when a doctor fails to diagnose glaucoma, which can cause the patient to suffer permanent loss of vision.
  • Cataracts: Although cataract surgery is very common, it is also associated with the most errors. This is largely because doctors have become so comfortable diagnosing cataracts and performing cataract surgery that they are not always as careful as they should be. Other examples of cataract malpractice include a lack of informed consent, overpromising on the treatment outcomes, and failing to provide the recommended postoperative care.

What Injuries are Caused by Negligent Eye Doctors?

When an eye doctor makes a mistake during a surgical procedure or fails to provide the proper follow-up care, the patient could suffer a range of injuries that could impact their vision. Depending on the nature and severity of the injury, the patient may have a difficult time doing their job, running errands, driving, or simply enjoying all the activities that rely on one’s eyesight. The following are examples of injuries that can occur as a result of an eye doctor’s negligent treatment:

  • Temporary or permanent blindness
  • Blurry vision
  • Double vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Tunnel vision
  • Poor or lack of color detection
  • Impaired depth perception

How do I Prove that Malpractice Occurred?

To successfully prove a malpractice claim, the patient must be able to prove that the doctor was negligent. In other words, if the patient can prove that another equally competent doctor would have followed a different course of treatment under similar circumstances, the patient may have a valid medical malpractice claim. This can be a complicated process. In most cases, the patient will be required to find a medical expert witness who has experience performing the type of eye surgery that resulted in the patient’s injury. In addition, this person must be willing to testify that the patient’s eye doctor failed to provide the standard of care, which caused the injury. It is highly recommended that the patient consult with a skilled medical malpractice lawyer who can assist him or her with every phase of the claims process.

What do I Need to Know About Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

Before a patient pursues a malpractice lawsuit, it is important that they understand some of the rules that exist for malpractice cases, including the following:

  • Statute of limitations: A malpractice claim must be filed within five years of the date the alleged malpractice occurred, or within three years from the day that the injury was discovered, whichever date is earlier. If the injury resulted in a fatality, a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within three years of the date of the decedent’s death.
  • Certificate of merit: In Maryland, a certificate of merit from a qualified medical expert must be filed within 90 days of filing a medical malpractice complaint.
  • Damage caps: Maryland is a contributory negligence state, which means that if the patient is even one percent responsible for the injury, he or she will not be eligible to collect financial compensation. If the eye doctor was solely responsible for the injury, the patient may be eligible for economic and non-economic damages. There is no cap on economic damages in Maryland. For 2021, the cap on non-economic damages is $845,000, and $1,056,250 for a wrongful death.

What Damages May I Receive in an Eye-Related Malpractice Case?

If a patient can prove that a medical provider’s negligence caused his or her injuries, the patient may be eligible for the following damages:

Economic damages: These can be easily calculated and are designed to reimburse the patient for his or her measurable financial losses. These losses include the following:

  • Medical expenses related to the injury, including corrective surgeries, hospitalizations, doctor visits, and prescription medications
  • Costs to modify the home to accommodate a loss of eyesight, special equipment, or hiring someone to provide extra help in the home
  • Lost wages, including past and future loss of income resulting from the injury

Non-economic damages: Also referred to as general damages, they compensate the patient for losses that are not easily quantifiable, such as the following:

  • Pain and suffering caused by the injury
  • Disability and disfigurement
  • Emotional distress
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

Baltimore Medical Malpractice Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Victims of Eye Injuries

If you or someone you love suffered an eye injury while under the care of an eye doctor, you are urged to contact the Baltimore medical malpractice lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton as soon as possible. We will thoroughly review the details of the case and determine whether the physician was negligent in any way. Our dedicated legal team will assist you with every step of the claims process and address all your questions and concerns. Protecting your rights is our top priority, and we will not stop fighting for you until we secure the maximum financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 800-547-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.

Our offices are conveniently located in BaltimoreColumbiaGlen Burnie, and Prince George’s County, where we represent victims throughout Maryland, including those in Anne Arundel CountyCarroll CountyHarford CountyHoward CountyMontgomery CountyPrince George’s CountyQueen Anne’s CountyMaryland’s Western CountiesSouthern Maryland and the Eastern Shore, as well as the communities of CatonsvilleEssexHalethorpeMiddle RiverRosedale, Gwynn OakBrooklandvilleDundalkPikesvilleParkvilleNottinghamWindsor MillLuthervilleTimoniumSparrows PointRidgewood, and Elkridge.