There are plenty of medical professionals in your life who might require you to sign a medical liability waiver: nurse practitioners, doctors, surgeons, chiropractors, physical therapists, dentists — the list goes on.
It can be off-putting and scary when someone asks you to sign a piece of paper giving up any of your rights, let alone your right to pursue legal recourse. What if a medical procedure goes wrong and renders you unable to sue for financial and emotional damages?
If you signed a medical liability waiver before a procedure and want to sue for damages, read on to determine whether it makes sense for you to proceed.
What is a medical liability waiver?
A medical liability waiver is, above all else, a release. Signing a medical liability waiver means that you are releasing your medical professional from all legal liability if something goes wrong during your procedure.
It is illegal to force a mentally capable adult to undergo any medical procedure, no matter how small, unless they give informed consent.
Signing a medical liability waiver means that you are waiving your right to sue a medical professional for damages after the fact. A medical liability waiver is meant to ensure that a patient is as informed as possible about the risks their procedure might entail so that patients will be unable to seek financial damages.
Patients’ Rights and Medical Liability Waivers
As mentioned above, adults who are capable of making decisions for themselves cannot be forced to undergo medical treatment unless they give consent.
This does not apply to adults with developmental disabilities or intellectual handicaps, who generally have a proxy. A proxy is a person who makes medical decisions for a person who cannot make decisions for themselves.
If you are a proxy, your rights regarding whether you can sue after signing a medical liability waiver are basically the same as if you were making medical decisions for yourself.
When can you still sue after signing a medical liability waiver?
Just because you sign a medical liability waiver doesn’t mean a medical professional or company isn’t responsible for your safety. There are a few reasons you might be able to sue after signing a medical liability waiver.
First, your medical liability waiver must include the following three things to constitute informed consent:
- The kind of procedure that the patient will undergo
- Every significant risk involved in the procedure
- Any medically viable alternatives to the procedure
If your medical liability waiver is missing any of these three things, you did not give informed consent before undergoing a medical procedure, and you can sue.
Another situation in which you would be able to sue would be in the case of the waiver not being specific enough about the procedure and its risks or if your personal injury was not one of the risks you were warned of in the waiver.
The final circumstance in which you would be able to sue after signing a medical liability waiver would be in cases of gross negligence. In other words, you can sue if you believe you can provide a court with evidence that proves you were injured because your doctor was grossly negligent while performing the procedure.
Seeking Legal Aid After Signing a Medical Liability Waiver
There are few things more important to a person than their health, and it can be incredibly disempowering to feel forced into accepting the consequences of actions that were not your fault.
If you believe you were taken advantage of by a medical provider or that you were a victim of medical malpractice, you may have the right to sue for damages and obtain financial compensation.
Contact Hunt Law, a personal injury law firm serving clients across northern New Mexico. Their dedicated attorneys will guide you through your legal journey with skill, focus, and compassion.