Why Are Medical Malpractice Claims So Common After Sports Injuries?

Medical malpractice claims are filed for a number of reasons: an injury related to treatment, delayed diagnosis of a dangerous or life-threatening disease, and even clerical errors have been known to result in a lawsuit. But these types of claims are more common when the patient is a prominent sports figure or an up-and-coming athlete in high school or college. Why is that?

The answer is simple: people who have the most to lose have the best reasons to file a lawsuit to recoup damages after medical malpractice.

Consider this: when a high school athlete is on track for a great scholarship for a prestigious school, but a medical mistake costs him the opportunity, what should he do? When a college athlete is on track for placement on a great team, but a medical mistake costs him the opportunity, what should he do? When a professional athlete is on track to make his next millions, but a medical mistake costs him his career, what should he do? Most victims of medical malpractice are left traumatized by the experience, but it can be especially bad if your expected future is undercut in the process.

Young Jarryd was one such athlete whose story followed this path. He came down with Compartment Syndrome. After surgery, most individuals are up and running again within a month. But Jarryd’s surgery didn’t go as planned. When he left the hospital, the pain in his leg intensified. He consulted with his surgeon immediately and was told that the pain was expected. He was told to wrap the area and take anti-inflammatories for swelling and pain — but the pain only got worse.

It was only then that Jarryd was told he had a rare infection. Over the next year, he would undergo at least four surgeries. Jarryd lost a great deal of muscle in his leg as a result.

When Jarryd and his family decided to open a medical malpractice case to investigate the possibility of wrongdoing, the hospital denied fault — but it was later discovered that the surgery had caused trauma to an artery, which led to the pain and swelling. Without relieving the pressure, the end result was nearly guaranteed. The muscle in Jarryd’s leg died.

Malpractice cases are among the most common types of personal injury lawsuits launched in the United States, in part because hospitals have a history of shielding doctors and surgeons with lawyers of their own. It’s a story with two distinct sides. Surgery always has risks, and humans will always make mistakes — especially when their job involves such delicate maneuvering around fragile tissues and organs. But denying the wrongdoing has become far too common. Patients have the right to compensation, especially when their bright futures are squashed as a result.

Had Jarryd’s surgeon accepted the possibility of a mistake earlier, the boy’s muscle might have been saved and he might have been able to have a long, fruitful career. Sadly, that’s not going to happen.