According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s report, at least 4,000 surgical errors occur every year in the United States (updated in May 2022). The NCBI indicates that wrong site and wrong procedure surgical errors persist as the leading types of preventable mistakes. Errors can force victims to undergo corrective surgeries, suffer lifelong physical disabilities, or even die.
Victims of surgical errors in the Bluegrass State may have a claim against the hospital or surgeon who performed the surgery. They may be wondering, What is the average settlement for a surgery error in Kentucky? In this post, we provide some answers to this question.
What Are Common Types of Surgical Errors?
Common types of surgical errors include:
- Leaving a foreign object in the patient,
- Perforating an organ during surgery,
- Damaging a nerve during surgery,
- Performing unnecessary surgeries, and
- Improperly administering anesthesia.
Then there is the realm of so-called “never events,” which are surgical events that should never happen. Never events generally fall into one of three categories:
Despite measures to limit and eliminate these preventable medical mistakes, these are still surprisingly common errors.
What Is the Average Settlement for a Surgery Error in Kentucky?
There is no set or guaranteed average settlement for a surgery error in Kentucky. Individual circumstances vary greatly from one case to the next. Plus, people can get hundreds of surgeries, each carrying a wide range of costs and risks.
What Damages Can I Get for a Surgical Error Under Kentucky Law?
Under Kentucky law, victims may be able to receive economic, noneconomic, and, in rare cases, punitive damages. Kentucky law does not put a cap on damages; however, the court may reduce a victim’s damages by the amount of fault that the victim carries. An average settlement accounts for the victim’s past and future harms that trace back to the medical mistake.
Surgical errors can be costly. Victims must pay the cost of the original surgery, plus that of corrective surgeries or rehabilitative procedures. On top of this, they may miss work while recovering from surgery and the effects of the doctor’s mistakes.
Victims may receive a financial award of economic damages to cover the cost of:
- The original surgery,
- Corrective surgeries,
- Other related medical procedures,
- Prescription medications,
- Home modifications,
- Lost wages, and
- Loss of earning potential.
The victim may also be entitled to receive compensation for future costs they may incur because of the surgical error. This helps to alleviate the financial burden of medical malpractice.
A victim may receive noneconomic damages related to the error. This includes:
- Pain and suffering,
- Permanent disfigurement,
- Loss of enjoyment in life,
- Loss of quality of life,
- Loss of consortium,
- Loss of society, and
- Emotional anguish.
Factors that may impact the amount of subjective, noneconomic damages that the victim receives include:
- The likelihood that the victim will make a full recovery,
- Whether the victim can undergo corrective surgeries,
- The conduct of the surgical team or hospital leading to or following the error, and
- The degree of fault that the victim shares for the error.
As to the last factor, medical consent forms may play a key role in determining whether the victim shares fault for the error. If the error was a foreseeable and disclosed risk of the procedure, for example, then it may lessen the amount of damages that the victim receives.
In some cases, surgeons and hospitals commit intentional, reckless, or egregious errors. When this happens, courts may impose punitive damages to punish them for committing these errors. Further, the penalty serves to deter future harms from befalling unsuspecting patients.
Understanding Kentucky’s Surgical Malpractice Law
When considering whether to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit, here are some important things to keep in mind.
Kentucky’s Statute of Limitations
First, Kentucky’s statute of limitations imposes a short deadline of one year on when you need to file your claim. What starts the one-year clock? The date that you discovered the injury or could have discovered the injury starts the clock. Kentucky requires plaintiffs to bring their claim within five years of when the surgeon committed the error, even if the injury wasn’t discovered until some time later. Exceptions may apply, but, in most cases, failure to bring a claim within the statute of limitation’s deadlines may be fatal to your claim. The best way to meet your deadline is to contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney.
Kentucky Requires Plaintiffs to File a Certificate of Merit
Second, Kentucky requires plaintiffs to provide a “certificate of merit” when they file their lawsuit.
The certificate of merit is a sworn statement indicating that the person bringing the claim consulted at least one expert about the underlying claim. The expert needs to be someone who meets the definition of an expert under Kentucky law.
The person bringing the claim may not have to consult an expert if doing so would make them miss the filing deadline. Alternatively, the court may waive the requirement if they or their attorney unsuccessfully sent three requests to three different experts.
A medical malpractice lawyer can help you navigate the complex requirements for the statute of limitations and the certificate of merit.
Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC Can Help You Maximize Your Settlement
Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC, helped recover a $1.8 Million settlement for a woman who underwent a hysterectomy to treat a condition (endometriosis) that she did not have. On top of this terrible error, the physicians failed to address an intraoperative injury during surgery. Because of this, a perforated bowel caused the woman to go into sepsis. She required more than 13 surgeries as a result.
Individual results may vary, but with almost 20 years of experience litigating medical malpractice claims, lawyer Seth Gladstein has the knowledge and skills to help you maximize your settlement. He can also help you contact the appropriate experts to get your certificate of merit prepared and filed in a timely fashion. Call Seth today, or contact him online.