The facial nerve is the seventh cranial nerve, extends from the brainstem between the pons and the medulla and controls the muscles of facial expression. The facial nerve has motor, sensory and parasympathetic functions. It plays a role in the function of taste and is responsible for the secretion of nasal mucosa. When damaged, there can be serious consequences. Facial nerve paralysis is a serious complication of many cosmetic, otolaryngology and oncologic procedures in the head and neck. Facial nerve paralysis can cause a number of problems, including a change in physical appearance, nasal blockage, difficulty keeping liquids in the mouth, drooling and the inability to express facial emotion. In a face lift, surgeons remove excess fat and tighten muscles. If the surgeon makes a surgical error, the damage to the facial nerve facial nerve can result in facial paralysis. In the otolaryngology and onocologic fields, patients may incur facial nerve paralysis after the removal of a tumor.
Errors during dental surgery may also result in crushing of the facial nerve causing facial paralysis similar to Hemifacial Spasm or Bell’s Palsy. There have also been incidents with endodontists using a packing agent that contained a nerve toxin that penetrated the mandibular nerve and caused irreparable damage. Facial paralysis can also occur during birth, but generally dissipates within several months.
Medical Malpractice and Facial Paralysis
Medical malpractice is a negligence cause of action under the tort system for providing compensation due to negligent conduct by health care providers, including surgeons. In a medical malpractice claim involving facial paralysis, the plaintiff will have to show that the surgeon acted in a manner that was inconsistent with the guidelines set forth by his or her profession, and that this failure resulted in the facial paralysis. Often, the allegations of negligence center on lack of informed consent, failure to diagnose, surgical misadventure, poor surgical technique and medical complications. A surgical misadventure refers to surgical errors.
Surgeons must emphasize and document the chances of facial nerve injury to all patients undergoing surgery in this area. A comprehensive exam with head and neck masses should be a part of the procedure and patient care guidelines. The elements of proving medical malpractice include duty of care, breach of duty, causation and damages.
Victims of Facial Paralysis Due to Medical Negligence
Victims of facial paralysis due to medical negligence have the legal right to receive compensation for losses emanating from the surgical mistake. Compensation includes money for any corrective and revision surgeries needed, such as facial reanimation surgery, medical costs and prescription medication expenses, lost wages and future loss of income and non-economic damages, including pain and suffering and partial or permanent disability. In some cases, punitive damages are awarded. Punitive damages are generally awarded when the acts of the defendant were especially egregious.
Hiring an Experienced Malpractice Attorney for Facial Paralysis Due to Negligence
When you file a medical malpractice lawsuit, there are procedural hoops to jump through. Some states even required the filing of a certificate of merit from a qualified expert witness along with the suit. An experience medical malpractice attorney can help ensure that all of the proper documents are filed properly and in a timely fashion.
Proving medical malpractice is an arduous and tedious process. The defendant’s insurance company is typically equipped with a team of experienced and specialized attorneys who will aggressively mitigate the case. Having an experienced medical malpractice attorney in your corner is the best defense. Not only do these specialized attorneys know the law, they have access to a bounty of expert medical witnesses to strengthen your case. Keep in mind that the defendant’s attorney will have his own lineup of expert medical witnesses. `When it comes to winning a medical malpractice lawsuit, having the right medical experts is key.
If you’ve incurred facial paralysis due to the negligence of a health care professional, call us for a free consultation. We take the time to carefully review your individual circumstances to determine if you’ve got a solid case. Our team of experienced medical malpractice attorneys are there to fight for justice on your behalf. Get the fair compensation you deserve with the expertise of our team.