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When a chiropractor's medical treatment causes a patient injury, that patient may be able to sue. While chiropractors are not medical doctors, they can still be liable for malpractice or professional negligence. State laws differ on what the action might be called, but each cause of action generally considers the same elements to prove a claim against a doctor or a chiropractor.
Injures alleged against chiropractors can be serious. For example, it was discovered that a famous model, Katy May, died at the age of 34 allegedly as a result of chiropractic treatment. After suffering from an on-set fall during a photoshoot, she hurt her neck. When the pain did not resolve itself, she sought chiropractic treatment. As a result of the treatment, an artery in her neck was pinched which caused her to have a stroke and die following the treatment.
Although this situation may sound like a textbook case of medical negligence, that may not necessarily be the case.
Establishing Medical Malpractice Against a Chiropractor
Proving a medical malpractice involves showing that your treating doctor did not exercise the usual standard of care that a reasonable doctor, in your doctor's situation, would have exercised during your treatment, and that it was that failure to exercise that standard of care that caused the injury. What this means is that if your doctor was doing the same thing that any other doctor would have done in their shoes, then regardless of the result, there likely would not be a case.
In Ms. May's case, if a lawsuit is ever filed, it will need to be shown that the chiropractor failed to exercise the usual standard of care that chiropractors generally exercise. For instance, if it is discovered that May did not receive x-rays before having her neck adjusted, then the doctor could possibly be considered to have not exercised the usual standard of care. May's representative or family would still need to prove that the injury was caused by the chiropractor's actions, and not some other cause.
When to Sue a Medical Professional
You generally have at least one year to file your case. In some states, medical malpractice or negligence claims have a different statute of limitations than injury claims. Additionally, there is one important requirement that applies to medical malpractice claims in most states, you may be required to provide notice of the claim to the medical professional, and the hospital, before filing a lawsuit. In California, for instance, you must notify the doctor and hospital within 1 year of discovery (but not more than 3 years from the date of injury), and once you notify them, you have to wait 90 days to file a lawsuit.
Deadlines to file lawsuits against medical professionals are strictly enforced, which can be very burdensome especially while dealing with an injury. If you think you have a claim for medical malpractice or negligence against a chiropractor, doctor, dentist, or other health care professional, contact an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. Most injury attorneys provide free consultations over the phone and may even be willing to look over your medical records free of cost.