Before undergoing a medical procedure, the hospital will ask you to sign a waiver where you’ll agree that the hospital isn’t liable for certain issues that may occur during or after your surgery. However, sometimes you’ll experience something that’s simply so bad that you feel you should sue the hospital for medical malpractice. Consult a surgical error lawyer, as attorneys can help you determine whether or not you have a case.

Ask a Surgical Error Lawyer: Can I Still Sue for Negligence If I Signed a Waiver?

Waivers cover a certain number of side effects and complications that can arise during or after surgery. For example, a waiver might say that you can’t sue the hospital if you end up paralyzed after a procedure with a high risk of paralysis. However, if you end up paralyzed after undergoing a surgery that usually has no risk of paralysis, then you may have a case.

The waiver you signed doesn’t cover everything that could go wrong. Some surgical errors do occur as a result of medical negligence. You should always read the waiver you sign and ask for a copy for you to keep. If you can’t keep a copy, then request to take a photograph of it before you sign it. If you experience something that isn’t clearly covered in the waiver, then you can almost certainly file a claim against the hospital.

What If the Doctor Claims I Can’t Sue Because of the Waiver?

Doctors don’t want to get into trouble, and hospitals don’t want to end up with a bad reputation. Somebody at the hospital will almost always try to claim you can’t sue because of the waiver you signed, but that’s where your attorney comes in. If you don’t have legal representation yet, then visit this page to get somebody on your side immediately. Your attorney can go over the waiver and clearly make a list of the issues and errors it covers.

Your attorney can also explain the difference between a normal problem that can occur during surgery and actual medical negligence. They may get an unbiased medical practitioner to weigh in. Consulting with a medical expert with no stakes in your claim is an excellent way to determine whether the issue you experienced was the result of negligence or was something that the waiver should generally cover.

What Exactly Is Medical Negligence in a Surgical Error Case?

As mentioned earlier, certain issues that occur during or after surgery are “normal.” Other errors simply should never occur and are always the result of a physician being negligent.

Examples of medical negligence in surgical error cases include:

  • The physician operating on the wrong site (for example, removing your left kidney instead of your right)
  • The physician leaving something inside you that shouldn’t be there
  • The physician performing another patient’s surgery on you due to a chart mixup or something similar
  • The surgeon cutting a nerve or damaging healthy organs/tissue
  • The anaesthesiologist causing damage by giving you the wrong dosage
  • The anaesthesiologist not giving you enough anesthesia, so you wake up during surgery

What If I Don’t Know About the Surgical Error Until Later?

Not everybody finds out they’ve experienced a surgical error straightaway. For example, if a surgeon left something inside you, it may be months or even years before you discover the issue. You may only find out because the object made you sick or because it was seen on an x-ray for an unrelated issue.

You can still sue for this and any surgical error you find out about later. You have three years (in Maryland) or two years (in Pennsylvania) from the day you found out about the error to file a lawsuit and make your claim. If you wait too long and don’t make your claim within this time, then, unfortunately, you’ll never be able to open a lawsuit and get compensation for the error you experienced.

Can I File a Claim on Behalf of a Loved One?

If your loved one experienced a surgical error that caused them to become incapacitated to the point they can’t file a lawsuit for themselves, then yes, you may be able to file on behalf of somebody else. You can also file if a surgical error caused a loved one’s wrongful death. Consulting an attorney to discuss the details of your loved one’s case is always the best option.

You can sue for medical negligence even if you signed a waiver. Waivers don’t cover all forms of negligence, and any experienced attorney will be able to explain this to negligent physicians or even in front of a judge and jury if necessary. If you’re ever unsure about whether or not you have the right to make a claim, then contact an attorney, as they’ll be able to tell you whether or not you have a viable case on your hands.