Juries Do Not Award High Amounts After Plastic Surgery Malpractice Despite Cases Being on the Rise June 20, 2011.

Plastic surgery malpractice is an anomaly of sorts. Damage awards in this area for injuries tend to be smaller.

"You’d think if someone was the victim of medical malpractice at the hands of a plastic or cosmetic surgeon, that the damage awards would be relatively high, particularly if the end results were disfiguring. Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the case," said Christopher Mellino. Mellino is a Cleveland medical malpractice lawyer and wrongful death lawyer of the Mellino Law Firm LLC, in Ohio.

This is an odd area of not only the law, but medicine. In most cases, this kind of surgery is not covered by health insurance, largely because it is regarded as being an elective procedure. Many juries trying these types of cases, medical malpractice on the part of a plastic surgeon, are often not sensitive to the complaint of the plaintiff, because they feel that the victim chose to have surgery, and are therefore partially at fault for the damages.

While this may not be the case, as there are medical necessity cases even in the cosmetic surgery arena, this seems to be a prevailing myth lawyers have to fight, if they are handling a medical malpractice case involving botched plastic surgery. If it is a case where the actions of the doctor were so egregious that the plaintiff had no choice but to sue for compensation, it will likely go to court. Unfortunately, the plaintiff may find it is an uphill battle to be successful, unless the conduct of the surgeon was so horrific, the jury can hand out punitive damages.

"Keep in mind that punitive damages are only handed down in cases where a medical professional conducted themselves in a grossly negligent manner or that their actions show reckless, intentional or grievous negligence that is the direct cause of serious harm or death," Mellino said.

Less of a problem in court are cases involving prescription drug errors. The unfortunate part about these errors, though, is that they often go unreported, because the patient does not always realize their problem is drug related. Drug errors are well known to be the cause of serious harm or death. What people may not know is that it is more than just the doctor that may be held accountable for a prescription error. For instance, drug companies, health care staff, nurses and pharmacists.

How is a medical malpractice lawsuit filed? "The complexity of many of these cases means the plaintiff will need the services of a skilled medical malpractice lawyer to find out what options are open to them. They may be able to recover damages for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and therapy, etc.," Mellino said.