ABOUT OPTOMETRY MALPRACTICE
Optometry injuries or conditions causing vision loss can be scary for patients suddenly and unexpectedly experiencing a deficiency in one of their five senses. Optometrists must undergo a rigorous optometric doctoral program to practice in the field, but mistakes can and do happen. While negligence and optometry malpractice examples are less frequent than in other areas of healthcare, patients experiencing adverse effects from eye injuries or conditions, combined with an act of negligence or malpractice, can be left with a permanent decline in vision and many questions about their options in pursuing an optometry malpractice case.
According to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), there have been between approximately 100 and 250 combined instances of medical malpractice and adverse action reports filed against optometrists each year since 2000. Proving optometric negligence and medical malpractice can be a difficult threshold to meet, and patients should consult with experienced eye injury lawyers as soon as possible to explore their circumstances and full legal options.
The Most Common Causes of Optometry Malpractice
In a 2017 University of Michigan study, researchers found 22% of all paid medical malpractice claims are related to mistakes made during initial diagnoses.
By comparison, a failure to properly diagnose eye injuries or conditions accounts for approximately 45% of optometry malpractice claims, according to the NPDB. Glaucoma, retinal detachment, and tumors are among the conditions most frequently overlooked during diagnoses.
Many forms of glaucoma don’t display apparent symptoms or warning signs, and effects can develop so gradually that patients may not recognize a noticeable change in their vision until the condition is in its later advanced stages, leading to blindness. Clinical signs and symptoms can be missed if a patient’s analyses are performed improperly, such as failing to fully dilate a patient’s pupils during an examination.
An improper initial diagnosis can lead to physicians performing or ordering irrelevant tests and treatments that could fail to control progression, worsen certain conditions, and cause serious harm to patients.
If an optometrist fails to diagnose a patient’s condition early enough, the undetected and underlying disease or illness can progress and further worsen a patient’s vision.
Patients could also be subject to a negligent delay of critical care if an optometrist fails to refer them to a necessary specialist for further testing or treatment.
Proving Negligence and Optometry Malpractice
Medical negligence and malpractice lawsuits are complex and challenging to prove. An initial misdiagnosis, or cases in which patients experience negative results despite proper treatment but are dissatisfied with a provider’s effectiveness, do not automatically constitute negligence or malpractice.
A successful medical malpractice lawsuit must meet the legal definition of negligence by satisfying four key elements:
- Showing there was a duty of care between the patient and healthcare provider established by the existence of a doctor-patient relationship. Any devolving or “disengaging” of a doctor-patient relationship or referral of an outgoing patient should always be documented in writing.
- Proving a breach of duty or that accepted standards of care were not met. There must be evidence that services or treatment provided fell below the standards of care that a reasonable optometrist would and should have administered in the situation. The standards of eye care are generally well-established by the American Optometric Association. However, the measuring stick for “reasonable” care, skills, and decisions made by a patient’s provider continues to evolve, as do the tools and treatment protocols for specific injuries and conditions.
- The patient and their legal team must prove that harm or injury occurred. In the field of optometry, the most likely evidence of harmful damage includes permanently blurred or lost vision.
- A patient’s medical malpractice attorneys must prove that the optometrist’s actions—or negligent inaction—were the direct causation of their client’s injury or harm. The causes and effects involved are crucial elements of every medical malpractice claim. A successful negligence and malpractice claim must prove that a provider’s misdiagnoses or improper treatment caused the preventable loss or unnecessary damage. Unpreventable damage or harm caused by an untreatable condition, even if initially misdiagnosed by an optometrist, does not constitute malpractice by the provider.
Pursue Justice with the Optometry Malpractice Attorneys at Montross Miller
Time is of the essence in any medical malpractice case, although it’s especially critical when proper care and treatment could mean saving a patient’s long-term eyesight.
An experienced negligence and malpractice attorney from Montross Miller can help answer questions, obtain medical records, negotiate a settlement, or file a claim within Indiana’s two-year statute of limitations.
Contact the Montross Miller team today if you believe you or a loved one have experienced optometry malpractice. Our experienced malpractice attorneys and medical professionals can review your specific circumstances, answer any questions, and provide the guidance you need.
WHAT WOULD BE CONSIDERED DENTAL MALPRACTICE?
WHAT IT IS
By definition, dental malpractice is negligence committed by a professional health care provider resulting in harm to a patient or patients. There are three components of medical malpractice that all cases must have:
- A failure by a professional to meet the medical standard of care
- An injury that results from that negligence
- Significant suffering caused by that injury
Because juries are often unfamiliar with medical terms and the law, they can misunderstand a dental malpractice victim’s case if an expert medical malpractice attorney is not trying the case. Medical malpractice attorneys are skilled in identifying whether medical professionals have violated the standard of care while attending to their patients. Your best bet is always to find a firm that can make your case.
WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE
Not all cases of dental malpractice include a traditional dentist. According to the legal definition, a dental professional is someone in the medical field with licensing or certification. Examples include an oral surgeon, dental hygienist, pharmacists, and dental anesthesiologists.
These caregivers train for years to give their patients the best care possible. Still, they can make errors that negatively affect their patients. Examples include premature release from a hospital, misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose mouth cancers, oral surgery injuries, and medication errors, among many others. Each of these can cause tremendous suffering to patients and their loved ones.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Dental malpractice causes patients and their loved ones to suffer in multiple areas of their life. While victims often experience health complications or cosmetic complications, the consequences can extend even further. Some may lose jobs or wages or may experience mental or emotional distress. The damage is often severe, and for that reason, Montross Miller sees it as our mission to empower victims of dental malpractice to recover losses. We resonate with the frustration that stems from suffering caused by negligence and improper care, and we want to help.
INVESTIGATION & REVIEW PROCEDURES
REVIEWING YOUR CASE
Dental malpractice leaves lasting physical, emotional, mental, or financial consequences that can put patients at a disadvantage for life. We work alongside you to determine whether you have a dental malpractice claim that we can use to give you the justice and closure you deserve. If you have a case, our Indianapolis medical malpractice attorneys are here to ensure you get your due compensation without upfront fees.
After you contact us, one of our paralegals will meet with you over the phone and take detailed notes about your claim to guarantee you and your case fair representation. After the call, the paralegals will take the case to a review meeting attended by our attorneys and medical experts. Together, they will determine whether to pursue the matter further.
If the review team believes dental malpractice has occurred, they will investigate the case further. At this point, we will invite you into our office for a personal conference with an attorney. The attorney will guide you down the path of bringing your claim forward, request more information, and answer any questions you have. We will ask you to sign a representation agreement and a release of medical records. Then, we will bring on a physician and a paralegal to review your documents and determine whether your claim is legitimate. We will meet with you again and explain our recommendation based on your needs. We will then help you make an informed decision about whether to go forward with the claim.
IF YOU HAVE A CASE
Our attorneys work to strengthen your case as we prepare to form a lawsuit on your behalf. Our goal is to set your life back on the right trajectory so that you and your loved ones can move forward. Dental malpractice attorneys at Montross Miller will take the time to ensure that we represent you accurately, tell your story, and make your voice heard.
THE INDIANA MEDICAL MALPRACTICE ACT
WHAT IT IS
When medical malpractice attorneys form lawsuits against Indiana medical professionals, they must follow the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act. As someone who may have experienced medical malpractice, you deserve to understand the impact of this Act.
*Note: The following is only valid for those wishing to file a complaint against a medical professional under Indiana law.*
The Act states that medical review panels must review all medical malpractice claims before an attorney files them in court. A healthcare provider and insurance carrier must notify the claim within legal time restraints. With a few exceptions, patients must file malpractice claims in the first two years after the incident. Exceptions include children and claims of reasonable discovery. You may file a claim before their eighth birthday if the patient is under six years old. Also, there may still be a case if the patient could not have reasonably discovered the injustice in the first two years following the malpractice.
The Act also requires that Indiana has a Patient’s Compensation Fund (PCF) to ensure that all patients who win their cases receive compensation. The Fund helps pay for the settlement since the Indiana healthcare provider can only be responsible for $250,000-$500,000, depending on when the malpractice occurred.
A victim, known under the law as the plaintiff, will file a proposed dental malpractice complaint with the Indiana Department of Insurance. The Department will then notify the defendant, or the medical professional in question, and their insurance carrier of the proposed claim. The defendant will then acquire a defense attorney.
Once this happens, the plaintiff and the defendant work together to form a medical review panel. To ensure impartiality, each of these two parties selects a doctor to serve on the panel. The two doctors then choose a third member, and an attorney functions as a non-voting chairman. The plaintiff and the defense both have the right to give testimony. The parties prepare booklets called medical malpractice submissions that describe their cases. These submissions may contain medical records, statements from parties, testimonies, expert reports, medical texts, medical journal articles, or other pieces of evidence.
As the panel members review the submissions, the plaintiff and the defendant can ask the doctors about their views on the validity of the case. When they are done reviewing, the panel will express whether or not they believe the evidence supports the plaintiff’s complaint. This opinion does not decide the case, however. The plaintiff still has the right to take the complaint to court, although the panel’s decision tends to sway the jury. There are rare times when it may appear that the panel is trying to defend a doctor against a legitimate malpractice claim. We will work with the plaintiff to ensure a fair trial in these circumstances.
SETTLEMENT OF MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CLAIMS
Medical malpractice attorneys must help victims of dental malpractice recover from the damages they have suffered. The settlement must fit the case. Since the amount of money in a settlement varies from case to case, we cannot obtain estimates until our professionals have discovered the facts.
CASES REGARDING MEDICAL PROFESSIONALS IN INDIANA
The mandated maximum for settlements varies from state to state, with some states having no maximum at all. For cases dealing with medical professionals under the State of Indiana’s Medical Malpractice Act, the money paid in damages is capped at different amounts depending on when the malpractice occurred:
- $500,000 for an act of malpractice that occurred before January 1, 1990
- $750,000 for an act of malpractice that occurred after December 31, 1989, and before July 1, 1999
- $1,250,000 for an act of malpractice that occurred after June 30, 1999, and before July 1, 2017
- $1,650,000 for an act of malpractice that occurred after June 30, 2017, and before July 1, 2019
- $1,800,000 for an act of malpractice that occurs after June 30, 2019
If you believe you have experienced dental malpractice with a medical professional in Indiana, look for a law firm familiar with the state’s regulations. Montross Miller is based in Indiana and is suited to the best possible settlement for your circumstances.
Get the answers.
With the right
team by your side,
you get the clarity
We win like a boss.
We know complex
cases so well that
other attorneys call
us for help.
High five. Move
we’ll take care of
you after the case
Nate consulted with medical experts, dug in and proceeded with the civil suit. I remember him telling me several times that [my wife’s] story was compelling and was deserving of his team’s full commitment and skill. We eventually settled before trial and were thrilled with the results, we felt justice prevailed. Nate was patient, thorough and a trusted advisor to us through this. He went to bat for us with health care providers and workman’s comp people. He fights for what is right. He really cared about what happened to my husband. Now, he will be taken care of for the rest of his life. Scott did a truly amazing job for us. It was not just about the legal work; he was there for us every step of the way. From rehab, through settlement and even making sure appropriate financial arrangements were in place for the future. He went to bat for us with health care providers and workman’s comp people. He fights for what is right. He really cared about what happened to my husband. Belinda was very responsive. I am very pleased. They are great at what they do. Mike Miller and the firm were all excellent to work with and were extremely professional. We worked with Brad Kallmyer who was phenomenal. He listened well and was very thorough and professional. I give all the credit to Brad. The staff was very kind, very understanding. They made my mom feel important. Brad’s integrity and the firm came through for us. They were great. Words cannot express how tremendously grateful my husband and I are to Nate and his team during the most difficult times in our lives. He walked us through every step with the up most respect, never hesitating to answer any and all questions, or simply giving us a word of encouragement. It was a relief to know that he was always on our side, fighting for our case and believing that it was worth fighting for.
Belinda was very responsive. I am very pleased. They are great at what they do.
Mike Miller and the firm were all excellent to work with and were extremely professional.