OUR BLOG

Lasik Lawsuit | When A Dream Surgery Becomes A Nightmare

Do you have a Lasik lawsuit on your hands?

A quick internet search will show you how Lasik is widely considered to be a safe, low-risk surgery. But what happens when the Lasik surgery goes wrong? You may have grounds for a lawsuit. 

On May 31, 2007, a Lasik recipient filed a medical malpractice case against his surgeon. The plaintiff claimed the surgeon failed to disclose the risks of the procedures. The surgeon also failed to diagnose a condition that contraindicated the Lasik surgery. The result? A young pharmacist has never been able to perform his duties the same, due to worsened vision. 

As safe as Lasik may be, complications can occur. In fact, the amount of Lasik lawsuits against surgeons and facilities has been rapidly growing. What should have resulted in corrected vision can often lead to more serious complications and conditions. 

Closeup image of an eye.

What Is Lasik?

Lasik eye surgery is the most commonly performed laser surgery to correct vision problems. Laser-assisted in situ keratomileusis (LASIK) can treat myopia (nearsightedness), hyperopia (farsightedness), and astigmatism. The procedure works by reshaping the cornea so light entering the eyes can properly focus on the retina. This is what leads to clearer vision. Essentially, recipients can enjoy good vision without eyeglasses or corrective contact lens.

Before we dive into the details, here’s a few interesting facts related to LASIK surgery lawsuits:

  • Some states allow optometrists to perform LASIK. Ophthalmologists are eye doctors trained to perform eye surgery. Optometrists are NOT trained for LASIK or any other form of eye surgery. Yikes.
  • Approximately half of all LASIK settlements involved ectasia, according to this study by OMIC.
  • Approximately 3 out of 10 ophthalmology malpractice claims are LASIK surgery lawsuits.
  • Research shows that many patients report painfully dry eyes, and problems with seeing at night after LASIK surgery. In addition, 2 out of 10 patients reported having dry eyes for 6 or more months.
  • According to an FDA report:
    • 21% of patients reported dry eyes (eyes drier than they were before the surgery).
    • 20% reported glare
    • 19% had issues driving at night
    • 18% reported halos six months after LASIK surgery.

Lasik Malpractice, Neglect & Serious Complications 

All surgeries come with their share of risks. Lasik surgery has its own, albeit rare and far out. Most injuries following Lasik aren’t due to the surgery itself. In fact, they’re generally because of negligence by the surgeon and/or the facility. While this should never occur, courts do see Lasik lawsuits. 

Surgeons have been found to breach the standard of care while treating a patient. If this leads to a patient injury, complications, or illnesses, you’re staring at some serious malpractice. 

Here’s how surgeons can be neglectful in the case of Lasik surgeries:

  • Performing the wrong surgical plan
  • Failure to identify pre-existing conditions
  • Failure to obtain informed consent from the patient
  • Not being licensed to perform Lasik surgery
  • Using faulty equipment
  • Failure to follow up

Now here are just some of the complications that can arise from Lasik malpractice:

  • Blurred vision
  • Double vision
  • Poor nighttime vision
  • Chronic pain
  • Undertreatment or overtreatment
  • Seeing halos, glares or starbursts
  • Dry eyes
  • Inability to perceive depth
  • Inability to see contrast
  • Permanent blindness

Some negligence and carelessness by Lasik surgeons can result in temporary issues. Other times, the impairment may be permanent. Lasik malpractice can lead to permanent damage to the cornea. This often happens when the patient was not a good candidate for Lasik but the doctor failed to determine that. 

How To File A Lasik Lawsuit

An ophthalmologist who performs Lasik surgery should uphold the proper standard of care. They should abide by healthcare rules. They should follow medical procedures and avoid mistakes. But sometimes things go wrong. It doesn’t always mean they committed malpractice, but sometimes it does.

More and more patients unhappy with Lasik are suing doctors and facilities for compensation. Claims range from leaving patients with poorer vision, or in extreme cases, leaving them legally blind. 

Before filing a Lasik lawsuit, you should confirm that the doctor was negligent.

The very first step towards a Lasik lawsuit is to establish what the proper standard of care would have been for a Lasik surgery. Look up the standard practices of a Lasik procedure. Treat it as an investigation of sorts. Get familiar with the do’s and don’ts of the procedure. Once you’ve established that, compare with your experience.

Determine what steps a skillful surgeon would have taken in all phases of performing Lasik:

  1. pre-op screening
  2. receiving informed consent
  3. performing the surgery
  4. post-op care

Next, you would need to show exactly how the surgeon/physician failed to perform up to that standard:

  • Did your doctor break the rules?
  • Were there any steps he/she should have taken?
  • Did your doctor skip a step?
  • Was there anything the surgeon did but should not have?
  • Did your doctor neglect post-operative care?

You will also have to clearly show how that failure led to a direct injury or complication to you. This should be completely and accurately documented.

So you need to support your lawsuit with concrete proof. You can present the standard of care and how the doctor abused that standard. In most cases, you’ll need the testimony of an expert witness. The witness must have experience with Lasik procedures and standards. Also, you need to document the injury and present it as evidence.

Ultimately, the court must establish that the doctor’s negligence led to injury or harm. If this sounds like a lot, don’t worry. The main thing is to talk to your attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney can lead you through the process step by step.

Lasik Lawsuit Compensation & Examples

Unfortunately, there’s no way of determining exactly how much compensation you’ll receive if you file a claim. However, working with an experienced lawyer means you may receive compensation for the following:

Here’s a few examples of successful Lasik lawsuits and compensation:

  • A jury in Denver fined 20/20 institute $440,000 for a Lasik injury.
  • In Maryland, a malpractice action involving incompetent LASIK surgery settled for $1,000,000.
  • One patient was awarded $5.4 million (this was a record at the time), which included a record $3 million for his client’s anguish and suffering.
  • For LASIK surgical malpractice, a jury in Denver, Colorado awarded $440,000 to a patient, against 20/20 Institute, LLC.
  • Another patient obtained a $7.25 million verdict, the most ever for a medical negligence lawsuit involving LASIK surgery (at the time at least).
  • For a housewife who suffered no economic loss, a LASIK malpractice action against a famous New York City LASIK physician settled for $950,000.
  • In Washington, DC a patient obtained $750,000 of compensation for a LASIK surgery victim.

  • A product liability lawsuit against the producer of the excimer laser used in LASIK procedure was successful.
  • A jury in San Diego, California, found a LASIK surgeon guilty of LASIK surgical malpractice and awarded him $772,000.
  • In 2015, a patient claimed for injuries acquired after Lasik surgery. The lawsuit was settled before trial for $600,000. (Even though the infirmities were somewhat mild.)
  • A $4,520,299.58 judgment was entered against LASIK physician Kevin Niksarli, M.D. (And his professional organization, Newsight Laser Center, PLLC.) August 12, 2011.
  • A plaintiff compensated $1,750,000 for medical malpractice. In this surgical case an inappropriate LASIK procedure necessitated bilateral corneal transplants.
  • On June 10, 2009, a jury in New York City found Kevin Niksarli, M.D., guilty of LASIK malpractice. They awarded the injured patient approximately $5.6 million in compensation.

Lasik Surgery Statute Of Limitations

Had Lasik surgery and believe negligence was involved? It’s best to act fast. Most states have a statute of limitations on when you can file a medical malpractice case. For the state of Texas, that statute of limitations is 2 years. It’s always a good idea to speak to a lawyer as soon as you detect something funny. 

Man holding glasses with poor vision after lasik.

Can An Attorney Help?

Yes. Hampton & King attorneys specialize in medical malpractice cases. We can help you determine whether you have a claim and if a Lasik lawsuit is the best idea.

Do you feel your LASIK procedure has been botched? Please contact a skilled and experienced medical malpractice law firm or attorney immediately. Lawyers with specific experience in LASIK malpractice cases are your best bet. They’ll be able to review your medical records, and determine whether or not you have a case.

LASIK injury cases can result in very large compensation amounts. And especially if the damage to your vision is moderate or severe. Vision impairment is a major disability. This can result in lost wages, for one. It can also cause increased medical expenses. Not to mention pain and suffering from the loss of eyesight.

If the damage to your eyes can prevent you from engaging in everyday activities, it’s worth discussing with an attorney. Everyday activities such as:

  • reading
  • watching television
  • enjoying theatre
  • driving safely

A Lasik malpractice case can carry stiff penalties and punitive damages. A doctor or practice found guilty of medical negligence should be held accountable.

We understand the pain and stress that comes from an unsuccessful surgery. Especially pain and stress that could have been avoided. We know what happened cannot be undone, but we can help you receive the justice you rightfully deserve. You can contact our office and schedule a free consultation for your potential Lasik lawsuit. No strings attached. You don’t have to go through this painful journey alone. We can help. 

Lasik Lawsuit FAQ’s – Quick Answers Section

What happens if Lasik goes wrong?

During the Lasik surgery, the doctor creates a tiny flap in the cornea. If the doctor performs this procedure incorrectly, tiny wrinkles known as striae can develop in the flap. And this can ultimately cause vision problems for the patient, ranging from minor to severe. In cases like these, many patients seek some form of compensation, which brings us to the next question.

Can you sue for bad Lasik?

Yes. Patients who have had a botched LASIK surgery can seek damages under medical malpractice or product liability laws. LASIK surgery cases account for roughly 30% of all ophthalmic malpractice claims. If you’re thinking about launching a lawsuit, talk to your lawyer about which option is best for you.

How common are LASIK lawsuits?

Roughly 3 out of ten ophthalmology malpractice claims are LASIK lawsuits. So as far as ophthalmology malpractice claims go, they’re pretty common. That said, compared to some types of lawsuits (car accident lawsuits for one), LASIK lawsuits are relatively rare.

Does LASIK permanently damage eyes?

Sometimes, yes. In most cases, the LASIK is successful without permanent damage. But in rare cases, it results in permanent damage. LASIK can cause permanently dry eyes, glare, halos, and more. Sometimes the result is blindness (as rare as it is).

Can you go blind because of laser eye surgery?

While it is rare, yes. It happens. The Refractive Surgery Council claims that “there has never been a case where LASIK was the primary cause of blindness.” But people have successfully filed Lasik lawsuits involving blindness caused by Lasik. In fact, this plaintiff won $2.1 million because a Lasik surgery left him legally blind.

How much will I be compensated for a Lasik lawsuit?

That’s a tough one because the figures fluctuate so much. A $4.5 million judgment was awarded against a LASIK surgeon in New York, while a jury in Denver, Colorado, returned a $440,000 verdict for LASIK surgery incompetence. At the time of the lawsuit, the biggest settlement in New Jersey was $2.1 million.

In addition, many Lasik cases result in lower settlements. To gain a better idea of how much compensation you may deserve, speak with your attorney, who can provide you with more specific information depending on the facts of your case.

How does Lasik go wrong and lead to a lawsuit?

Surgeons can remove eye tissue unevenly, or remove too much or too little corneal tissue. This mistake might occur if they don’t center the laser properly on the eye. Astigmatism, or widespread blurring of vision at any distance, can be the result.

What are signs that I should consider filing a Lasik lawsuit?

If you’re having problems after Lasik surgery and believe it’s because of the doctor’s negligence, talk to an attorney about your rights. The following are some of the concerns that patients may have as a result of a failed Lasik procedure:

  • The patient may lose lines of vision
  • Debilitating visual symptoms such as glare, halos, and/or double vision might occur, affecting night vision.
  • The doctor may have under-treated or over-treated the patient, so he or she still needs glasses or contacts after surgery.
  • Severe dry eye syndrome may develop in the patient, causing discomfort and reducing vision quality.

What percentage of Lasik patients have complications?

In a 2017 study of 300 LASIK patients, 45 percent had visual and dry eye issues three months after surgery, with the number decreasing over time. At six months, 19 percent of individuals with dry eye had chronic symptoms.

Corneal ectasia is blurry or distorted vision, and progressive myopia is nearsightedness. Both usually occur at a rate of 4 to 60 instances per 10,000 procedures. But this does depend on the patient demographic.

What is the failure rate of Lasik?

All operations have the potential of complications and side effects. The medical community regards Lasik as a safe procedure with a low complication rate. In fact, with a complication rate below 1%, LASIK is one of the safest elective surgical treatments available today. That said, accidents do happen. And sometimes, negligence is involved.

Is Lasik worth the risk?

It really depends on you. If your vision is pretty good and you aren’t overly concerned with it, but you’re worried about the risks involved, think it through. The concerns may outweigh the benefits of LASIK surgery. But if your eyesight is awful and you really want it fixed, LASIK is usually fairly safe, with a complication rate of less than 1%, like we mentioned earlier.