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Must you sue for medical malpractice to get a fair settlement?

Sometimes you can’t get a fair settlement until you actually go to trial. Consider the example of a recent medical negligence case brought by a dental surgery patient. The woman claims that her surgery, a simple extraction of a baby tooth, left her with permanent nerve damage.

At the time of the procedure, the woman was a 31-year-old teacher. Today, she claims that she has horrible pain in her left cheek and lower jaw triggered by even the smallest facial movements. 

 

Needless to say, facial movements are required in both work and social interactions. As a result of the alleged nerve damage, the woman claims that her daily routine is practically impossible. She also claims that she has lost significant weight, as a possible consequence of the pain.

This lawsuit has a twist from the typical medical malpractice claim in that the surgical procedure was performed at a training medical center. In fact, the woman’s amended complaint alleges that a first-year resident with minimal training and experience performed the procedure.

Although the woman signed an informed consent form, an attorney that focuses on medical negligence knows that certain patient rights cannot be signed away. In addition, the consent form in this case was potentially vague, stating that physicians and residents other than the primary doctor would be assisting in surgery-related tasks, but not specifying the specific individuals or tasks. 

The woman’s case was presented to a jury. Her amended complaint sought $7.1 million in damages, but the medical facility made a last-minute settlement offer on the eve of the jury’s deliberations. The woman has reportedly accepted the offer of $950,000.

Source: Oregon Live, “OHSU settles Priscilla Schmidt medical negligence claim for $950,000,” Steve Duin, March 10, 2015

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