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Medical Malpractice in Cosmetic Surgery: What You Should Be Aware Of

If you had a terrible outcome from plastic surgery, you are probably wondering about your legal options. Some people think you cannot sue for an unexpected side effect or a bad result from so-called vanity procedures because they are elective surgeries, but that is not true.

This blog will discuss what you should be aware of about medical malpractice in cosmetic surgery, including how a personal injury lawyer can help, when you can file a cosmetic surgery malpractice lawsuit, and procedural information that could remove your right to pursue compensation from the at-fault party.

Common Situations That Can Lead to Cosmetic Surgery Negligence Cases

Cosmetic surgery malpractice statistics may surprise you. According to the International Open Access Journal of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons, plastic surgeons have about a 15 percent chance per year of facing a medical malpractice lawsuit. 

Some of the common reasons plastic surgeons or other healthcare providers may face a cosmetic surgery complications lawsuit include:

  • Anesthesia complications, usually resulting from the anesthesiologist not paying close attention to the patient during the surgical procedure or not reading their medical history carefully to learn of drug allergies or adverse anesthesia interactions with the patient’s other medications.
  • Infection of the surgical site
  • Excessive bleeding
  • Pneumonia
  • Disfigurement
  • Paralysis
  • Extensive scars
  • Skin drooping, discoloration, or other abnormal results

You might go in for a procedure that you expect to enhance your appearance, like a tummy tuck, facelift, rhinoplasty (nose job), breast augmentation, or liposuction, and end up with a life-threatening complication or disfiguring result. Adding insult to injury, health insurance usually does not cover cosmetic procedures, so you will likely have paid a high financial price for a nightmarish result.

Recoverable Damages in Plastic Surgery Malpractice Claims

The damages a successful cosmetic surgery plaintiff can pursue include economic and non-economic damages. Punitive damages are rare because they require proof of malicious or outrageous conduct by the defendant.

The economic damages in plastic surgery malpractice cases may include the following:

  • The cost of the cosmetic surgery
  • Additional medical expenses incurred to fix or treat the problem
  • Lost wages for income missed while the patient recuperated from their injuries
  • Future lost wages if the malpractice injury causes the person to be unable to earn as much money as before

Non-economic damages, also called intangible losses, can include the following:

  • Pain and suffering for the physical discomfort, inconvenience, and emotional distress of the injury
  • Disfigurement
  • Loss of enjoyment of life
  • Physical impairment

According to CC § 3333.2, California limits the amount of non-economic damages a plaintiff can recover in medical malpractice cases, so you should talk with your personal injury attorney about this aspect of your medical malpractice lawsuit.

What Constitutes Medical Malpractice in Plastic Surgery?

A bad result by itself might not be medical malpractice. Plastic surgery, like other medical specialties, is more an art than a science. Healthcare professionals are not held to a standard of perfection, and undergoing any type of surgery always carries some risks.

To qualify for a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit, the medical professional or facility must have delivered substandard healthcare services that caused injury to the patient. Some examples of medical negligence are:

  • Surgical errors, such as leaving an instrument inside the patient’s body 
  • Misdiagnosis 
  • Failure to diagnose a medical condition
  • Exceeding the scope of the patient’s informed consent
  • Operating on the wrong body part or performing the wrong surgery
  • Failure to warn of the risks and possible side effects of the procedure
  • Anesthesia mistakes

This list is not all-inclusive. If you suffered any injury, complication, or adverse result from a surgical procedure, a medical malpractice attorney can help you determine whether you have a valid case. 

The Procedural Rule That Could Destroy Your Right to Pursue Compensation for Cosmetic Surgery Malpractice

No matter how egregious the conduct of the cosmetic surgeon or surgical facility was, you could lose the right to hold the at-fault party accountable for the harm you suffered if you wait too long. Adults must file medical malpractice lawsuits within three years of the date of the injury or one year after they discovered or should have discovered the injury, whichever happens first, according to CCP § 340.5.

Many people discover this filing deadline, also called the statute of limitations, while negotiating with the defendant’s insurance company. Suddenly, the claims adjuster stops returning their calls. After the deadline passes, the insurance provider is no longer legally liable for your injuries and other losses. 

The statute of limitations is one of several reasons why working with a malpractice attorney on your cosmetic surgery negligence claim can be a wise choice. Also, you will not have to fight a billion-dollar insurance company on your own.

Contact KJT Law Group for a Free Medical Malpractice Case Consultation

Our plastic surgery malpractice lawyers at KJT Law Group can be there with you every step of the way. Our law firm handles these claims on a contingency fee basis, which means that if you do not win, you do not pay us any legal fees. Contact us today for a free initial consultation by calling (818) 507-8525.

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