Brief Fact Summary. Plaintiff broke her neck in an auto accident and claimed that the hospital staff negligently misdiagnosed her injury, causing her to lose the opportunity for a substantially better recovery.Â She sued Defendants for medical malpractice, the trial court dismissed her action, and the higher court reversed and remanded.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. A plaintiff may recover for a loss of opportunity for a better recovery in a medical malpractice case when the defendant’s negligence aggravates the plaintiff’s preexisting injury such that it deprives the plaintiff of a substantially better outcome.
Issue. Â Whether Plaintiff can recover under the loss of opportunity doctrine.
Held. Yes.Â The loss the opportunity doctrine is a medical malpractice form of recovery which allows a plaintiff, whose preexisting injury or illness is aggravated by the alleged negligence of a physician or health care worker, to recover for her lost opportunity to obtain a better degree of recovery.Â The court explained three different approaches to loss of opportunity claims generally taken: (1) if a plaintiff proves that she was deprived of at least a 51% chance of a more favorable outcome than she received, she may recover damages for the entire preexisting condition; (2) if a plaintiff proves that the defendant’s negligence more likely than not increased the harm to the plaintiff, she may recover damages for the entire preexisting condition; (3) if a plaintiff can prove that she was deprived of at least a 51% chance of a more favorable outcome than she received, she may recover damages only for the lost opportunity for a better outcome, not for the entire preexisting condition.Â The court adopted the third approach, reversed the trial court’s dismissal, and remanded.
We have long held that difficulty in calculating damages is not a sufficient reason to deny recovery to an injured party.View Full Point of Law