Chiropractor malpractice can lead to serious injuries, including stroke, paralysis, and death. While chiropractic care can have benefits, some procedures carry significant risks. Chiropractors often perform adjustments without first consulting with patients’ physicians, screening for contraindications, or informing patients of the risks. Levin & Perconti helps victims of chiropractor malpractice get justice.
- Why choose a Chicago chiropractic malpractice lawyer at Levin & Perconti?
- What is chiropractor malpractice?
- Common Examples of Chiropractic Malpractice
- Who is at risk of chiropractic complications?
- Significant Injuries Caused by Chiropractor Negligence
- Can I sue a chiropractor for negligence?
- Who is liable for chiropractor malpractice?
- How much is my chiropractor malpractice case worth?
- How can a Chicago chiropractic malpractice attorney help?
- When should I contact a Chicago chiropractic malpractice attorney?
- How much does a Chicago chiropractic malpractice attorney cost?
Approximately 53 percent of patients who received chiropractic adjustments experienced mild to moderate undesirable effects in a study published by the American Academy of Family Physicians. These effects included fatigue, headache, and radiating pain. In most cases, symptoms resolved within a day.
Unfortunately, some patients experience serious, permanent complications, including chronic pain, disability, and death. If you or your family member has been severely injured due to chiropractor malpractice, the medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti can help you recover substantial compensation.
Why choose a Chicago chiropractic malpractice lawyer at Levin & Perconti?
Our attorneys at Levin & Perconti have more than 200 years of combined experience helping victims of medical malpractice recover significant damages. We have seen firsthand how devastating harm from a medical professional you trusted with your health can be, and we are passionate about getting justice.
Our hard work and dedication have helped us obtain remarkable results on our clients’ behalf, including a $2 million settlement for a 45-year-old optician and his wife against two chiropractors and an internist. The providers failed to diagnose the man’s severe cervical spondylotic myelopathy, leading to disability and permanent loss of sensation.
What is chiropractor malpractice?
Chiropractic malpractice occurs when a chiropractor fails to provide a reasonable standard of care, which results in harm. Chiropractors must limit the scope of the care they provide to their chiropractic training and make care decisions based on the actions that would be expected of a prudent chiropractor in each situation.
A chiropractor is a health-care professional with a Doctor of Chiropractic degree. Unlike medical doctors, they have not been to medical school, and they cannot prescribe medication. Their training is focused on manipulation of the spine as a treatment for various conditions of the back and spine.
Common Examples of Chiropractic Malpractice
The following actions by chiropractors violate the reasonable standard of care and rise to the level of medical malpractice when harm results:
- Spinal manipulation intended to treat systemic health problems based on vertebral subluxation theory, which according to the Archives of Physiotherapy, is not scientifically supported
- Improper cervical manipulation
- Failure to recognize the signs or symptoms of a medical emergency
- Failure to consult with the patient’s medical doctors before commencing treatment
- Failure to thoroughly screen a patient before beginning spinal manipulations
- Misdiagnosis of symptoms as spine-related when caused by another problem that should be evaluated by a medical doctor
- Not adjusting treatment modalities according to the patient’s health problems, such as osteoporosis
- Failure to inform the patient about the risks associated with any chiropractic procedure
Who is at risk of chiropractic complications?
Chiropractic care is contraindicated for some patients. Others can benefit from chiropractic care if certain accommodations are provided. Improper chiropractic care has the potential to harm any patient, but people with the following conditions face the highest risks:
- Severe osteoporosis
- Cancer of the spine
- Bone diseases
- Broken bones
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Certain circulation problems
- Infections involving the nervous system
Significant Injuries Caused by Chiropractor Negligence
The spine protects the spinal cord, a column of nerves that begins at the base of the brain and facilitates communication between the brain and the various parts of the body. Consequently, spinal manipulation carries risks of serious complications, including stroke, paralysis, and death.
Arterial dissection occurs when the inside lining of an artery wall tears. This can occur in the vertebral and carotid arteries in the neck when adjustments are made to that part of the spine, known as the cervical spine.
Arterial dissection is an extremely dangerous complication that can lead to a stroke and death. It may be caused by the sudden thrust typically used in cervical adjustments. Arterial dissection may occur immediately after the adjustment or in the week that follows.
A 2001 study published in the journal Stroke found that acute stroke patients under the age of 45 were five times more likely than the general population to have had a chiropractic manipulation performed within the last week.
According to Biomedical Research and Reviews, approximately one in 48 chiropractors has had a patient develop an arterial dissection. The study found that chiropractors often lack experience in recognizing arterial dissection signs and symptoms and fail to screen for risk factors or communicate with patients’ doctors.
A stroke is a serious cerebrovascular event. According to the Mayo Clinic, the effects of a stroke may include:
- Paralysis on one side of the body
- Speech difficulties
- Difficulty swallowing
- Memory loss
- Cognitive impairment
- Emotional dysregulation
- Chronic pain or numbness
Chiropractic manipulation is often forceful. It has the potential to cause broken ribs and vertebral fractures, especially in people with osteopenia and osteoporosis, two conditions that are characterized by reduced bone density. Chiropractors have a duty to screen for these conditions and adjust treatment accordingly.
The Mayo Clinic defines a herniated disk as a painful condition that occurs when the jellylike center of a disk between the vertebrae is pushed to the outside of the disk through a tear. Though chiropractic care is a common therapy for herniated disks, the sudden pressure during spinal manipulations can cause or aggravate it.
Occurrences in the lowest section of the spine, known as the lumbar spine, have been documented by the European Spine Journal, but this can occur in other regions of the spine.
The Journal of the American Medical Association studied such a case in the thoracic spine, the section behind the chest, and beneath the cervical spine, which resulted in the development of myelopathy. Myelopathy is a painful compression of the spine that can result in chronic pain, numbness, and loss of bodily functions.
Cauda Equina Syndrome
Improper spinal manipulation has been associated with cauda equina syndrome, according to the European Spine Journal. Cauda equina syndrome is a neurological disorder caused by compression of the nerve roots in the lower part of the spine, often resulting in a loss of bladder and bowel control.
The American Association of Neurological Surgeons has observed that this condition may lead to such symptoms as:
- Inability to sense the need to urinate
- Urinary and bowel incontinence
- Loss of sensation in the genital and buttock regions
- Sciatic nerve pain
- Sexual dysfunction
Can I sue a chiropractor for negligence?
If you have experienced harm because of a chiropractor’s negligence, you may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, a type of personal injury lawsuit specific to health-care professionals. To prevail, you must prove:
- The chiropractor owed you a duty of care.
- The chiropractor breached the duty of care by failing to provide a reasonable standard of care.
- The breach of duty caused you to suffer an injury that would not otherwise have occurred.
- The breach of duty was the proximate cause of the injury.
Who is liable for chiropractor malpractice?
Anyone working in a chiropractic capacity that caused or contributed to the harm may be liable, including one or more of the following:
- Nursing staff
- The clinic
Lawsuit proceeds are generally covered by medical malpractice insurance. Illinois law does not require chiropractors to carry it, but most chiropractors do voluntarily.
Health insurers typically require chiropractors that accept health insurance from patients to carry medical malpractice coverage, according to the Illinois Chiropractic Society.
How much is my chiropractor malpractice case worth?
The value of a chiropractor malpractice case will be determined by the individual factors in your case. Compensation may include economic and noneconomic damages. The most important factors in calculating damages include:
- The severity of your injuries
- The length of your resulting disability
- Your ongoing health-care needs
- The financial impact of your injuries
- The level of pain and suffering caused by your injuries
Economic damages are compensation for the verifiable financial losses associated with your injuries such as:
- Medical bills
- Projected lifetime medical costs
- Lost wages
- Projected future lost wages
- Lost business opportunities
In the tragic event of death for a next of kin due to chiropractic negligence, you may also be able to recover the financial losses suffered by family members. These might include lost income, funeral expenses, and burial expenses in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Noneconomic damages are compensation for unquantifiable losses to your quality of life, including:
- Loss of bodily functions
- Loss of society
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of capacity to enjoy life
In a wrongful death lawsuit, you may also be able to recover damages for your family member’s pain and suffering.
How can a Chicago chiropractic malpractice attorney help?
Chiropractic lawsuits in Illinois are complex. You need a lawyer with experience handling chiropractic malpractice cases along with a formidable trial law reputation, strong negotiation skills, and significant resources.
When you retain Levin & Perconti, you can count on your Chicago chiropractic malpractice attorney to:
- Retrieve your medical records and perform a thorough case investigation
- Value your case with consideration to the lifetime costs of your injuries
- Negotiate fiercely and skillfully for the highest compensation available, even if that means taking your case to trial
- Keep you informed throughout the litigation process
When should I contact a Chicago chiropractic malpractice attorney?
The Illinois statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is generally two years from the date of the injury or from the date you discovered or should have discovered the injury.
While this may seem like sufficient time, cases require significant investigative and preparatory work before being filed. Thus, promptly retaining a knowledgeable chiropractic malpractice lawyer is critical. This will also ensure your attorney has access to supporting evidence before it becomes lost or degraded.
How much does a Chicago chiropractic malpractice attorney cost?
We operate on a contingency fee basis, which means we do not charge upfront fees because your case costs are deducted from the final verdict or settlement amount. In other words, it will cost you nothing unless or until your case is successfully resolved. This ensures injured individuals have access to the court system regardless of financial limitations.
Contact Levin & Perconti Today
If you have suffered harm from a chiropractic procedure, you may be entitled to significant compensation. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation case review.
Not only were they so professional but also so caring and thoughtful. It was very difficult going over the facts in our mother's case but they were so compassionate and understanding and allowed us to be with them every step of the way. We were able to sit in on the depositions and we were really able to see how hard they worked on our behalf.