Knee replacement surgery is one of the most common orthopedic procedures in the United States. According to Personalized Orthopedics of the Palm Beaches, more than 800,000 knee replacements are performed each year in the United States alone, more than any other surgical procedure except for coronary artery bypass grafting (CABG).
Recently, it has become apparent that not all knee replacement surgeries are equally safe or effective. For some patients who undergo this procedure, complications arise during or after their surgery that can cause serious injury due to the negligence of their surgeon, hospital or a harmful product.
If this happens to you or someone close to you, it’s important that you know what rights you have as a patient and how to seek compensation through a knee replacement lawsuit against those responsible.
What is a Knee Replacement Surgery?
Knee replacement surgery is a surgical procedure that replaces a damaged knee joint with an artificial joint. The surgery is designed to relieve pain and restore function. Knee replacement surgery is often used for patients with arthritis, which causes painful swelling, stiffness, and decreased range of motion in the joint.
The procedure involves removing damaged cartilage from your knee and replacing it with an artificial implant. These artificial parts allow your knee joint to move smoothly with little or no pain. Therefore, the procedure is meant to restore function and relieve pain.
However, some patients who undergo knee replacement surgery may experience complications such as infection or blood clots in their leg veins. Complications can lead to further surgeries and more pain than was experienced before the original operation. If you have already had knee replacement surgery and suffered complications, you may want to file a lawsuit against the doctor who performed your operation.
Common Complications With Knee Replacement Surgery
While knee replacement procedures are generally considered safe, certain complications can occur after the surgery. Several common complications have been reported by patients who have undergone total knee replacement surgery, some of these include:
A hematoma is a collection of blood outside of a blood vessel. It can occur at any location in the body due to trauma or surgery. Hematomas can be internal or external and may require drainage or removal to prevent serious damage to tissue or organs.
Infection occurs when bacteria enter an area where they should not be present, causing an infection. An infection may occur after surgery if bacteria enters an incision site or other wounds on the body during surgery, such as an infected surgical drain site or open wound from trauma.
Blood clots form when there is too much time between procedures for the patient to move around. The longer this period continues, the greater the risk for blood clots forming in the leg veins or arteries.
Blood clots can travel through these vessels and cause deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in other parts of your body, such as your lungs or brain. DVT can be fatal if left untreated and requires immediate medical attention to prevent further complications, such as stroke or pulmonary embolism (PE).
Bleeding Into the Knee Joint
Blood can collect in the joint following surgery, causing swelling and pain. Blood may leak from damaged blood vessels or other tissues. More severe bleeding may require a blood transfusion.
Nerve Damage in the Leg
Nerve damage in your leg can cause numbness or tingling sensations in either foot or ankle after surgery. In some cases, nerve damage can reduce sensation or muscle function around your knee joint. If left untreated, nerve damage may require additional surgeries or other treatments to repair the damaged nerves.
Pain and Inflammation
One of the most common complications of knee replacement surgery is pain and inflammation. This is due to a surgical error or inadequate post-operative care. The resulting pain may be so severe that patients cannot properly utilize their new knees and may require revision surgery to correct the error.
How Do I Know If I Have an Injury Claim?
If you have a doctor-related injury, it can be difficult to know if you have a valid medical malpractice claim. Several factors, however, may help determine whether you have a valid claim. First, you must prove that there was medical malpractice/negligence on the doctor’s part.
In the United States, medical malpractice occurs when a physician fails to provide adequate care or provides care that is not within the accepted standards of practice for their profession. This includes failing to diagnose an illness, misdiagnosing it, or performing unnecessary surgery. The standard of care varies depending on the state but typically requires physicians to use all reasonable means to prevent harm to their patients.
Second, there must be evidence that the negligence caused the injury and wasn’t just an unfortunate coincidence. A knee replacement lawsuit can be filed against a variety of defendants:
- Doctor who performed the surgery
- Hospital where the surgery was performed
- Manufacturer of any medical device used in the procedure
- Any other entity in the chain of distribution for faulty medical devices
What Can My Lawyer Do?
As noted above, there are inherent risks in a knee surgical procedure, and sometimes it can have devastating consequences. Your lawyer will be able to help determine if legal action is worth pursuing. An attorney for knee replacement lawsuit will work with you to determine if you have a case.
A lawyer will also work with insurance companies, medical professionals, and other parties to gather all relevant details for the lawsuit. They will handle all communication with insurance companies on your behalf to recover damages.
If the manufacturer of the defective knee replacement knew about the problem but chose not to fix it or release information on it, they may be liable for any damages suffered. A knee replacement lawyer will review the case and determine whether they had knowledge of this defect before releasing it onto the market.
A personal injury lawyer will help with the proper filing of your case and pursue it throughout the legal process. They will represent you in court when necessary and ensure that all deadlines are met in order to protect your rights under the law. They can also advise you on how to proceed if there is a dispute regarding coverage of expenses associated with treatment or loss of wages due to missed work.
Damages in Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
There are two types of damages that you can recover in a medical malpractice lawsuit: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages include monetary losses such as money for hospital bills. Non-economic damages include non-monetary losses such as pain and suffering and other intangible losses. The amount of each type of damage will vary depending on the circumstances surrounding your case. For instance, according to Georgia state law, you can recover damages up to $350,000. Depending on your case, several different types of damages may be available to you such as:
- Lost wages and benefits
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Rehabilitation costs
- Current and future medical expenses
Past Knee – Replacement Related Lawsuits
As knee replacement lawsuits have grown in number and size, so have the settlements and verdicts. Here are some of the largest knee replacement-related settlements and verdicts in recent years:
$1 Billion Sulzer Medica Settlement (2002)
The largest knee replacement-related lawsuit was against Sulzer Medica, which sold defective knee replacement devices in 2002. The company agreed to pay $1 billion to settle thousands of lawsuits brought by patients who received defective hip and knee implants. The settlement averaged $200,000 per patient.
Dozens Sue B. Braun over Ceramic Knees (2012)
Dozens of patients sued B. Braun Medical Inc., alleging that its ceramic knee prostheses failed prematurely and caused them serious injuries. According to court documents, some plaintiffs required revision surgery months or years after their original surgeries because moisture collected between the bone cement and implants, causing the implants to loosen and fail prematurely.
Johnson & Johnson Settlements (2013/2016)
In 2013, Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay $2.5 billion to resolve a large product liability lawsuit involving its DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. subsidiary. The suit alleged that the company’s Pinnacle metal-on-metal hip implants caused serious health problems – swelling, pain, joint dislocation, and damage to the central nervous system. The case involved more than 8,000 plaintiffs from around the country who claimed an estimated $3 billion in damages.
Johnson & Johnson settled another large lawsuit involving its DePuy Orthopaedics Inc. subsidiary for $1.375 billion in 2016. This suit involved claims that Pinnacle hip implants caused serious health problems, including organ damage.
Knee Replacement Lawsuit Attorneys Can Help
If you have been injured due to a knee replacement gone wrong, you may be entitled to compensation. A knee replacement lawsuit lawyer will review your case and determine if you have a case. Lawyers within our network can evaluate your case and help you understand your legal options. Fill out our contact form today and let an attorney help you with your knee replacement surgery case.