An entitlement to claim compensation for an eye surgery error can depend on a number of different factors. As with all injury compensation claims, there has to have been an injury or adverse event due to the negligence of somebody who owed you or a family member a duty of care.
However, when making compensation claims for an injury due to eye surgery, an entitlement to compensation may also depend on whether “informed consent” was given prior to undergoing the eye surgery procedure. There are two possible outcomes relating to informed consent.
The first outcome is that you were fully informed of the risks of an injury prior to undergoing the procedure and sustained an injury that was unavoidable “in the circumstances and at the time”. In this scenario, it would be difficult to successfully claim compensation for an eye surgery error.
The second outcome is that you were not fully informed of the risk of injury. If you gave your consent for the procedure to proceed without being made aware of the risk, you may still be entitled to make compensation claims for an injury due to eye surgery, even if the injury you suffered was unavoidable.
Irrespective of whether fully informed consent was given prior to a procedure, you will be able to claim compensation claims for an injury due to eye surgery if it can be proven that an avoidable injury was sustained due to a lack of skill or the inability to demonstrate an acceptable level of skill.
How Avoidable Eye Surgery Injuries Occur
After any type of eye surgery, it is reasonable to suffer pain, sensitivity and blurred vision. These symptoms are expected and should be mild and temporary. If the symptoms persist, or complications develop after an eye surgery procedure, you should seek professional medical advice at once.
Most avoidable eye surgery errors occur for one of two reasons – the failure to identify pre-existing risk factors, and mistakes during surgery caused by miscommunication or administrative errors. Rarely is it the case that the wrong eye – or wrong patient – is operated on.
Claims for Laser Eye Surgery Injuries
A significant number of claims for laser eye surgery injuries result from the failure to identify a patient is not suitable for the laser eye surgery – either due to a pre-existing risk factor or an abnormal Orbscan reading. Injuries during the procedure can be attributable to negligence or defective laser equipment, and include:
- Double vision or ghosting caused by an astigmatism.
- Corneal scarring or corneal ectasia.
- Ongoing deterioration of vision.
- Permanent blindness.
Claims for laser eye surgery injuries can also result when complications develop as a result of poor post-operative care. In these circumstances, it is necessary to prove that either the care you received immediately after the procedure was negligent, or that you were not given full instructions on the care you should self-administer in order to prevent an adverse event.
Claims for Cataract Eye Surgery Injuries
Due to the high number of cataract removal procedures performed each year, claims for cataract eye surgery injuries are more common. In recent years, there have been a number of compensation claims for an injury due to eye surgery due to the wrong intraocular lens being implanted or the incorrect administration of antibiotics. Other avoidable cataract eye surgery injuries include:
- Tearing of the lens.
- Damage to the cornea.
- Retinal tears and detachments.
- Eye infections due to unsterilized instruments.
A failure to provide adequate post-operative care – or provide full information about the care you should take once discharged – can also result in claims for cataract eye surgery injuries if an avoidable complication develops. This includes the failure of a nurse, optometrist or optician to identify a complication during follow-up appointments in the weeks after your cataract eye surgery.
Claiming Compensation for an Eye Surgery Error
Compensation claims for an injury due to eye surgery do not fall within the Injuries Board remit as they are classified as injuries attributable to medical negligence. Therefore it is in your best interests to engage a solicitor in order to compile evidence of negligence and pursue an appropriate settlement of compensation for an eye surgery error.
Once negligence has been established, your solicitor will write to the negligent medical facility, medical practitioner or optician, informing them of your claim and presenting the evidence to support it. If liability for your injury is acknowledged, the solicitor will negotiate an appropriate settlement on your behalf. If the claim is contested, it may be necessary to take court action.
Issuing court proceedings does not necessarily imply that your claim will be heard in court. Many compensation claims for an injury due to eye surgery are resolved between court proceedings being issued and a claim being heard. Your solicitor will attempt to obtain the best possible outcome for you by whatever means necessary.
Children’s Compensation Claims for an Injury due to Eye Surgery
If your child – or another family member unable to represent themselves – has been injured during eye surgery, you can claim compensation for an eye surgery injury on their behalf acting as a “next friend”. In order to be approved as a “next friend”, it will have to be demonstrated that you are acting in your child´s best interests and there is no conflict of interest.
Approval to make compensation claims for an injury due to eye surgery on behalf of a child is usually a formality unless you are the negligent medical practitioner responsible for the injury. The process for claiming compensation for an eye surgery error is similar to above, but the final settlement will have to be approved by a judge – again to ensure that it is in your child´s best interest.
Settlements of children´s compensation claims for an injury due to eye surgery are held by the court until your child is eighteen. The funds can be accessed on application to the court is they are needed for medical or educational reasons – for example if you wanted to pay for revision surgery or purchase visual aids to help your child see more clearly.
How Much Compensation for an Eye Surgery Error Will You Receive?
Settlements of compensation for an eye surgery error vary according to the extent of the injury suffered and its permanence. The Injuries Board Book of Quantum suggests a settlement range of between €25,200 and €45,400 for a partial loss of sight in one eye, and up to €138,000 for a total loss of sight in one eye. The actual settlement will depend on how good your vision is in your uninjured eye.
Other factors taken into account include whether the injury can be corrected with revision surgery or, if not, the impact the permanent injury will have on your quality of life and options for employment. You may also be able to claim compensation for a verifiable emotional trauma if you have suffered anxiety or depression as a result of a medical practitioner´s negligence.
If revision surgery is an option, the cost of the surgery will be factored into the compensation settlement. If your injury is permanent, in addition to the Injuries Board figures quoted above, you will be compensated for your loss of income and the deterioration in your quality of life based on your age, occupation and previous lifestyle.
How Contributory Negligence Can Affect Eye Injury Compensation Settlements
The term “contributory negligence” relates to any contribution you may have made to the cause of the injury or the extent of the injury. Contributory negligence will not necessarily exclude you from claiming compensation for an eye surgery error, but it will likely reduce the amount of compensation you receive. In terms of eye surgery claims, contributory negligence can be a factor in the following scenarios:
- If you were asked whether you understood the risks of eye surgery, and said you did – and signed the consent form – even though you did not fully understand them.
- If you withheld information about a pre-existing condition that, had it been known by a medical practitioner, would have made you unsuitable for laser eye surgery.
- If you failed to follow the instructions given to you on your discharge from hospital or failed to attend a subsequent follow up appointment.
- If you started to develop the symptoms of a post-surgical adverse event, but unreasonably delayed seeking medical advice and allowed the condition to deteriorate.
If any of these scenarios apply in your situation, you should speak with a solicitor at the first possible opportunity. After an inspection of your injury by an independent expert ophthalmologist, your solicitor will be able to advise you how much your contributory negligence has affected your entitlement to claim compensation for an eye surgery error and whether you still have a claim which is worthwhile to pursue.
Free Legal Advice about Compensation Claims for an Injury due to Eye Surgery
If you or a family member has sustained an eye injury due to the medical negligence of somebody who owed you a duty of care, you are advised to speak with a solicitor at the earliest practical opportunity. Compensation claims for an injury due to surgery can be exceptionally complicated, and the earlier the process is started, the higher likelihood your claim will be successful.
Please note you only have two years from the date of surgery or from when you were diagnosed with a post-operative complication in which to claim compensation for an eye surgery error. Therefore, it is in your best interests to contact us today to explain your situation and receive free legal advice about compensation claims for an injury due to eye surgery.