Can I Still Get Compensation For My Medical Injuries If I Signed A Waiver?
When we are sick, we trust doctors and other healthcare professionals to treat us, but unfortunately medical errors happen much more often you may realize. A John Hopkins study published in 2016 revealed that more than 250,000 people in the United States die every single year from medical errors alone (and other reports have claimed the numbers are in reality as high as 440,000.) This makes medical malpractice the third leading cause of death in the U.S. after heart disease and cancer.
What is medical malpractice, and how does signing a waiver affect my legal rights?
Medical malpractice, or what it is called when a healthcare professional deviates from health standards and causes injury to a patient, can include a wide variety of instances. Most people commonly tend to think of malpractice as a surgeon making a mistake during a surgery and causing serious harm or death for the patient, but medical malpractice can also include misdiagnosis, incorrect prescriptions, a lack of informed consent, misreading lab results, insufficient after-care instructions, and more.
Because of the frequency of medical malpractice errors and lawsuits, healthcare providers have taken steps to reduce the amount of legal action that can be taken against them. It is now common for patients to sign waivers and release forms before they can be treated; these forms list the risks, ask for informed consent, and often include some language that requires patients to release their right to sue. If the patient refuses to sign this waiver, they will often be unable to get the treatment they need, so most patients sign, only to find themselves in a difficult position if something goes wrong and they suffer a serious injury. However, this does not mean that patients have no legal rights or recourse.
If you were a victim of medical malpractice, and you signed a waiver, call The Florida Law Group’s experienced personal injury attorneys. Since 1984, we have been helping injured accident victims fight for justice and pursue maximum compensation, regardless of how challenging their cases have been. We have offices in Tampa, Largo, Orlando, Miami, and more, and we have been nationally recognized for our ability to get verdicts for our clients. To date, we have recovered over $1 billion dollars in damages.
Two instances where medical malpractice claims can still be filed even if a waiver was signed
Just because you signed a waiver before a medical procedure or course of treatment does not mean that your healthcare provider cannot be held legally responsible for your injuries as a result of negligence. In some cases, patients do lose their full ability to recover damages, but there are two instances where, even if the patient signed a waiver, they can take legal action against the provider.
The first way has to do with informed consent. Informed consent means that the patient was properly and completely informed about the procedure and the risks associated with the procedure before treatment begins. Simply signing a form doesn’t guarantee informed consent. The doctor needs to speak with the patient or provide literature explaining the treatment and risks and ensure that the patient does understand the important information regarding what is about to take place. If the doctor did not discuss an important possible risk that other doctors would have or that a normal patient would have reacted to, or does not discuss the waiver with the patients at all, then the patient still may be able to sue for medical malpractice if an injury occurs.
The second way has to do with gross negligence. This describes when a healthcare provider acts extremely negligently or recklessly and makes mistakes that go far beyond the expected, standard level of care the patient believed they would receive. In every treatment and procedure there are unavoidable risks, but when a doctor neglects to do something that other doctors in their position with their same education and experience level would do, they are committing gross negligence, and a waiver will not stop the patient from filing a lawsuit. An example of gross negligence would be amputating the wrong limb, giving a patient a medication they documented they were allergic to, leaving a surgical instrument in the surgical site, performing surgery in the wrong place, etc.
Proving gross negligence and lack of informed consent legally can be difficult, especially if a waiver was involved. Medical providers and hospitals are backed by huge, intimidating insurance companies and large legal teams. Recovering the damages you deserve for your injuries is much more unlikely on your own. That’s why The Florida Law Group is here to help! We have extensive experience litigating medical malpractice cases where waivers were signed, and we know what it takes to get the fair and full amount your case is truly worth. Call today to schedule a free consultation with our attorneys! We proudly offer all of our legal services on a contingency fee basis, meaning you don’t pay unless we win your case.