If you have ever been skydiving or scuba diving, you are probably familiar with the standard forms that you must sign. These forms state that you understand the risks of the activity you are about to partake in, and will not take legal action against the company should you be injured. While this is all well and good with extreme sports, some doctors have taken it upon themselves to create very similar agreements that limit patients’ recoverable damages in the event of complications during medical procedures.
Of course, the comparison between skydiving and surgery is absurd because, while surgery is risky, the medical professionals performing the surgery are experts in their field. As a patient, you have the right to take legal action if those medical professionals injure you negligently.
The Florida Supreme Court recently weighed in on a case that dealt with this very manner, deciding 5-2 that the medical malpractice case in question would not go to arbitration where the victim’s damages would be limited. The patient, a 67-year-old man who died from hernia surgery complications in 2009, had signed an arbitration agreement limiting his non-economic damages (like pain and suffering) to $250,000, but justices determined that his wife was likely entitled to closer to $1 million and threw out the agreement.
This case sends an important message to doctors everywhere that agreements like the one in question do not allow them to circumvent the law, avoiding liability and legal expenses should they negligently injure a patient. Many states, including Virginia and Maryland, already have laws limiting recoverable damages in medical malpractice cases, so arbitration agreements further limiting recoverable damages simply will not stand.
If you or a loved one were injured by a negligent doctor and fear that you may have signed away your rights to take legal action, act now. Call the Bethesda medical malpractice lawyers at Lewis & Tompkins today at 202.296.0666 to discuss your case with a team of experienced attorneys.