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Chiropractors and Medical Malpractice

ChiropractorsThe significant majority of medical malpractice cases are brought against surgeons and others who deal with potentially life-threatening conditions. However, it is absolutely plausible for other medical professionals to face malpractice suits if their conduct is held to breach the acceptable standard of care. One type of professional that does encounter malpractice suits on a fairly regular basis is chiropractors, mostly because their work is so precise and hands-on. If you are injured by your chiropractor’s negligence, it is possible to hold them accountable. They are not medical doctors, but they still have a duty under the law to do no harm.

Potential Risks

While some chiropractic patients merely need minor adjustments, some may be predisposed to sustaining greater harms. There is recent research to indicate that some patients may have a higher chance of strokes or other neuro-vascular ailments if they receive inadequate chiropractic care. This is not something all chiropractic patients are susceptible to, but it is a common enough occurrence to merit medical study.

Even if the harm suffered is not as grave as a stroke, any injury still may be something for which a chiropractor can be held liable. Chiropractic injuries can run the proverbial gamut, from mild to very severe. Some examples include:

  • Rotator cuff injuries;
  • Torn ligaments;
  • Cracked vertebrae;
  • Herniated discs;
  • Muscle pain and damage; and
  • Paralysis, temporary or permanent.

As long as an injury can be shown to be tangible and measurable - that is, it is an injury that does not go away after mere minutes or hours - it can be used as part of the case to hold your chiropractor liable, regardless of its relative mildness.

The Applicable Standard of Care

Because they are not considered physicians, the standard of acceptable care is slightly different for chiropractors than it would be for M.D.'s. The California standard of care for chiropractors is, as one might expect, to only perform the same care as would a “licensed, prudent, competent doctor of chiropractic in the same region would do in the same or similar circumstances.” The crux of the matter that can be difficult is that it is less easy to pinpoint what a ‘prudent’ or ‘competent’ chiropractor would do in a given situation, because the discipline is fairly diverse and prone to doctrinal disagreements.

If it can be shown that a chiropractor has breached their duty of reasonable care, there are two other criteria that must be met in order to potentially be able to hold the chiropractor liable. You must be able to show that your injury is tangible and measurable, and that it was caused directly by the chiropractor’s conduct. It is important to keep in mind that even if the chiropractor only aggravates a previous condition, rather than creating a new injury, it still may be actionable. California recognizes the doctrine known as the eggshell plaintiff rule, which means that a defendant must take their plaintiff exactly as they find them - if they are more likely to be injured than the average person, it is still actionable even though one could not reasonably assume the likelihood of injury.

A Medical Malpractice Attorney Can Help

Being injured, regardless of whether it was at the hands of a doctor, chiropractor, or other professional, is never an acceptable state of affairs. If you believe that your chiropractor was negligent in your care, you may be entitled to compensation, but the odds increase with a knowledgeable legal professional on your side. The San Jose medical malpractice attorneys at Corsiglia, McMahon & Allard, L.L.P. are well versed in these kinds of cases, and can help suggest options to you in terms of moving forward with a potential suit. Contact us today by web form, or by telephone at (408) 289-1417, to schedule an appointment. We serve San Jose, the Bay Area, and the counties of Alameda, Monterey, San Benito, Santa Clara and San Mateo.

Client Reviews
My experience with Attorney Brad Corsiglia during my recent medical malpractice case was nothing short of amazing given the very stressful circumstances. I was fortunate to find Brad highly recommended from a mutual contact and from the very beginning of the process, Brad was truly engaged and knowledgeable in understanding my case and providing input on what avenues were available to me. Michelle M.