Nerve Damage After Surgery – Can You File A Lawsuit?

Undergoing invasive surgery can be terrifying for many people. Why? Well, chances are, they’ve heard about patients getting nerve damage after surgery, and needing to file a lawsuit to recover from the expenses. There’s so many unknowns. Things that have happened to many others on the same path.

What if the surgeon operates on the wrong organ?

What if they administer the anesthesia incorrectly and you feel every slicing incision?

Or what if you’re left with permanent nerve damage after the procedure? 

Your physician tells you the only way to get better is to get surgery. But in the end, you leave worse off than when you came. Although these fears may seem far-fetched to some people, they can and do happen.

In this post we’ll delve deeper into nerve damage after surgery. Why it happens and what to do if you’re a victim. Keep reading to learn more.

Woman holding her shoulder in pain, implying nerve damage.

A Victim’s Story Of Nerve Damage After Surgery

Wendy Knecht of California knows all too well about nerve damage after surgery. After being diagnosed with a gene mutation that increases the risk of breast cancer, Wendy opted for a preventative double mastectomy. She would follow that up with breast reconstructive surgery. 

Immediately after her reconstructive surgery, Wendy felt excruciating pain. She would later learn the silk mesh inserted to help support her soft tissue failed miserably. It did not adhere to her chest wall. It was not supporting the implants (which were heavier and bigger than promised). And it was never approved for breast reconstruction. Her botched surgery left her with nerve damage and chronic pain.

Some problems after surgery are unavoidable. But others occur simply because of a healthcare provider’s neglect. If your damaged nerve is because of a botched surgery, you may be entitled to compensation. Get in touch with our team members to see if you have a case for a lawsuit.

How Do Surgeries Lead To Nerve Injuries?

To the untrained eye, nerves inside the human body may just look like thousands of tiny wires tangled together. But a trained and competent surgeon knows where they are, what they’re responsible for, and how to avoid them. If certain surgeries require surgeons to operate close to a major nerve, they know exactly how to protect it.

A neglectful surgeon, however, may leave a damage a nerve during surgery. Here’s how:

  • Improperly positioning the patient which leads to extra stress on the nerve 
  • Compressing the nerve while using a tourniquet
  • Placing surgical mesh or hardware incorrectly
  • Cutting the nerve with surgical knife or tool
  • Stretching a nerve

Types Of Nerve Damage

There are different types of nerve damage:

  • Neuropraxia causes an interruption in the nerve but leaves it intact. While it can cause a disruption in blood flow, patients with neuropraxia can have a full recovery. 
  • Axonotmesis is a more severe type of nerve damage. This could lead to long term or permanent paralysis of one or more motor/sensory functions.
  • Neurotmesis is the most severe and devastating type of nerve damage. This results in complete paralysis. A full recovery is not possible.

Now, how do you know you have nerve damage?

Signs Of Possible Nerve Damage After Surgery

When you come out of a surgery, you don’t tend to think your left with nerve damage. It’s easy to think your pain is just part of the post-operative recovery process. But if you feel like something isn’t right, speak up and seek answers! You know your body best and if it doesn’t feel normal, it probably isn’t.

Here are some of the common symptoms of nerve damage injuries:

  • Numbness
  • Tingling or burning sensation
  • Muscle Weakness
  • Changes in mobility
  • Loss of sensation

Nerve Damage Treatment

Unfortunately, not all damaged nerves can be repaired. If it was cut too deep or lost blood supply too long, there might not be many options. Especially if the surgeon failed to address it right away. 

Treatments for repairable nerve damage include: surgical repair, physical therapy, pain medication, acupuncture, and topical creams.

Noticing a damaged nerve and repairing it early enough can prevent further complications. That’s why it’s best if the surgeon can address it while already performing surgery. 

Filing A Lawsuit

Going against a healthcare provider or facility in a malpractice lawsuit is no easy task. That’s why it is crucial to gather all necessary documentation as soon as possible. The most important element of your case will be this:

Your nerve damage was a result of negligence. If a more competent surgeon operated on you, and acted according to the standard of care, you wouldn’t be dealing with a damaged nerve. With a competent surgeon’s control, they would have addressed it right away.

Now if you can prove neglect, and have all your documents, you’re ready to take the next step.

Seek A Lawyer

Healthcare providers and facilities have built systems that are great at protecting them. But an experienced attorney will know their way around. Medical malpractice lawyers know what it takes to tackle a case against a negligent surgeon.

Prepare For Your First Meeting

You’ve got your lawyer. Great. Now what?

Prepare! Get together all the documents related to your case. This includes bills, prescriptions, x-rays, scans, and any communication between you and your provider. Having a copy of your medical records including pre-surgical screening and operative reports is also crucial. When it comes to malpractice cases, there’s no such thing as too much information.

File the Lawsuit

Not sure whether you want to file right away or not? Here’s the thing. Medical malpractice cases have to follow a strict statute of limitations. The law says you have two years to file your lawsuit. And medical malpractice lawsuits can take more time than you might expect. So if you think you have a case, typically your best move is to get the ball rolling ASAP.

Not sure where to start or how to go about it? No problem. This is where a competent attorney will be an invaluable asset. Just ask! Your lawyer will give you a roadmap to litigation success, and will help you every step of the way. And if you’re successful, statistically speaking, you’ll end up negotiating a fair settlement. (You’ll see what we mean below.)

Nerve Damage Lawsuit Settlements

If you’re feeling certain that you have a case, you’re probably wondering how much a nerve damage after surgery lawsuit is worth. That value cannot be estimated until your lawyer fully investigates your unique case. The settlement amount will depend on several factors including:

  • The type of nerve damage
  • The monetary cost you’ve had to pay (this includes hospitalizations, medications, specialist appointments, additional surgeries, etc.)
  • Future medical care. Depending on the type of nerve damage, you might be frequenting hospitals and doctor’s offices for several years. The settlement will take into consideration how much you are expected to spend on long-term or life-long care.
  • Lost wages. If your injury caused you to lose wages, you can be compensated for that. If your injury is long-term and you might lose future income, that will also be considered into the settlement.
  • Pain and suffering

Man with nerve pain holding his wrist.

Settling is most likely your best case. It takes less time, less money, and is much less risky. For those reasons, roughly 9 out of 10 malpractice cases settle outside of court.

Seek Justice For Your Injury

Most people have encountered many doctors in their lives. Any time we have healthcare issues, we turn to them almost knowing they’ll fix it. Patients are almost obligated to blindly trust medical providers because they don’t really have a choice. And most doctors honor that trust and exceed our expectations. They provide high quality care. They remain attentive throughout the entire visit – from the consultation to the post-op appointments. 

Unfortunately, some doctors may also act negligently when it comes to your health care. For them it may be a minute of malpractice. But for you it could mean a lifetime of health issues. That’s why it’s important to hold them accountable. 

Contact the lawyers at Hampton & King today to discuss your case and explore your options. Speak to us to find out if your nerve damage after surgery may result in a lawsuit.