Medicine and our knowledge of the human body are expanding by leaps and bounds every day. Every few months it seems there is a new “medical breakthrough” that alters the way in which patients with certain conditions are treated. For example, just recently, medical professionals concluded in a preliminary, uncontrolled study that getting traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients up and moving as soon as possible after their accident improved the patients’ recovery times and overall results. This contravenes the old opinion that movement was harmful for TBI patients recovering from their injuries.
These medical breakthroughs are made possible because individuals volunteer to undergo experimental procedures and unorthodox treatment regimens. Although few if any doctors performing such procedures would guarantee positive results, a number of people are lured into volunteering for these procedures by the hope that they will be cured of their condition.
Can you–or should you–volunteer for an experimental procedure after being injured in a personal injury accident?
You Have a Duty to Follow Your Doctor’s Orders
If you have been injured by the carelessness of someone else, you still have an obligation to seek out reasonable medical treatment from a qualified doctor and to follow that doctor’s reasonable medical advice concerning your treatment. For example, if you break your leg in a slip and fall accident and your doctor puts you in a cast and orders you to wear the cast for six weeks, you must wear the cast for six weeks. Failing to do so can be seen as “negligence” or carelessness on your part and can impact your physical recovery as well as the monetary recovery in your personal injury lawsuit.
However, you generally do not have an obligation to undergo experimental or untested procedures, even if the procedure could potentially provide you with a complete cure. For example, if your doctor tells you about a new procedure that could potentially heal your leg without a cast in a matter of hours, you do not need to agree to undergo this procedure.
Should I Undergo an Experimental Procedure?
The question then becomes whether an injury victim ought to undergo an experimental procedure and whether doing so would impact his or her recovery award. The answer boils down to a question of reasonableness under all of the facts and circumstances in the case. A procedure that has been tested with great success but is not yet standard treatment for your condition may be reasonable, whereas agreeing to your doctor’s experimental procedure when no one else has ever performed such a procedure and the risks of the procedure are great while the chance of success are small might not be considered reasonable.
Consult with Your Attorney First
Speak with your South Carolina personal injury lawyer before agreeing to any experimental procedure. Greenville lawyer David R. Price, Jr., P.A. represents personal injury victims and can help you understand the potential consequences to your legal interests by agreeing to a particular experimental procedure. Contact his office at (864) 271-2636 to discuss your case and your concerns during a free case evaluation.
David Price is a Personal Injury, Civil Litigation, Collections, and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. He graduated from the University of Georgia School of Law, and has been practicing law for 12 years. David Price believes in helping those who have been injured. Learn more about his experience by clicking here.