Do I have cause for a civil case, if an ER failed to remove a piece of glass from my son’s leg when they stiched him up?

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Do I have cause for a civil case, if an ER failed to remove a piece of glass from my son’s leg when they stiched him up?

My 6 year old son fell in the road and had to be taken to the ER to recieve stitches for the wound. After the wound healed, he started complaining of a bump above the scar that was hurting him. There was a substantial lump on his ankle. We were referred to a specialist about an hour and a half away. The specialist did a simple X-ray to determine there was a foreign object left in his ankle from when the ER stitched him up. Then, 3 days later, we had to return for the object to be removed surgically. The object that was left in my son’s ankle was a substantial chunk of glass. He has been in continued pain for 3 months and had to undergo the additional surgery for removal. Do I have a case?

Asked on December 27, 2012 under Malpractice Law, New Mexico

Answers:

Catherine Blackburn / Blackburn Law Firm

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

You may have a case, but I doubt you should pursue it.  Medical malpractice cases are very expensive to pursue.  In the end, all the costs of the attorney (which is 40% or more of the recovery), expert witnesses (which are required), court fees, medical record fees, deposition fees, etc., must be paid from any settlement or judgment.  If insurance paid the medical expenses, they will be repaid.  If your son's damages consist only of pain for 3-6 months, doctors visits, and an unnecessary surgery to remove the glass, the cost of pursuing the case could exceed the potential recovery.

I suggest that you call some medical malpractice attorneys in your area and discuss the potential claim with them.  Medical malpractice attorneys do not charge for a consultation, so you have nothing to lose.  If they turn you down on a telephone call, it will probably be because of the cost issues I mentioned.

Of course, if your son develops permanent damage from this, the potential recovery would be higher and the likelihood of recovering damages that benefit your son would be greater.  For your son's sake, I hope he recovers quickly without complications.  People who recover substantial damages in medical malpractice cases have very substantial injuries. 


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