Plastic surgeons, like any other doctor, can be held liable for medical malpractice if their treatment and care for a patient results in injury. But what if their treatment simply results in an unhappy customer? If the nose job, lipo, face lift, or tummy tuck doesn't result in harm but also doesn't meet the doctor's promises or patient's standards, does a displeased patient have any legal recourse?
The terms "breach of contract" and "breach of warranty" are normally limited to the business world of commerce and consumer sales. But they may be useful legal jargon when it comes to suing a plastic surgeon for poor results.
Plastic Surgery Breach of Contract
When a patient and a cosmetic surgeon agree on a course of action or surgery, a contract is formed, even if nothing is written down. And if the surgeon fails to perform the surgery as agreed upon, that breach can be considered a form of medical malpractice.
Breach of contract in a plastic surgery case can occur if a cosmetic surgeon used a different type or size of implant than the patient agreed to, used a different procedure than agreed upon, or otherwise deviated from what the patient requested or provided informed consent for.
One thing disgruntled plastic surgery patients should keep in mind, however, is that damages for breach of contract are generally limited to only economic damages, and damages for pain and suffering or loss of normal life may not be available.
Plastic Surgery Breach of Warranty
Legally speaking, a warranty is like a promise of performance. If a plastic surgeon promises certain results to encourage patients to agree to a particular procedure, courts will generally treat this promise as a warranty. Failure to provide the promised results could make the surgeon liable for breach of warranty.
The key factor in most breach of warranty claims is specificity. Did the surgeon make general assurances about the quality of the procedure like, "This is the best course of action," or "You'll look your best if we do this"? That may not classify as a warranty. But if the doctor promised specific, measurable results regarding size, shape, or even a resemblance to a celebrity, a court may conclude that promise constituted a warranty, and hold the doctor liable if he or she fails to meet that promise.
Medical malpractice claims can be complicated, and require levels of proof regarding industry standards of care. If you believe you have a medical malpractice claim, consult an experienced attorney.