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Esophageal Perforation Case

A million-dollar recovery for an Erie husband and father who experienced a ruptured esophagus. The rupture was demonstrated on a chest X-ray, but the doctor did not see it. As a result, gastric chemicals, which are very corrosive and irritating, leaked into the patient's chest for more than a day and caused significant damage to internal tissue. The patient eventually suffered a rupture aorta, which had to be repaired on an emergency basis. Although he survived the ordeal, this man underwent several surgeries of a life-threatening nature, and he was in the hospital for almost four consecutive months. He now suffers from chronic fatigue and pain in his torso from the multiple surgeries.

Unfortunately, we have been involved in several cases involving mistakes in reading radiology tests such as X-rays, CT scans and MRIs. This case involved a simple X-ray that showed a serious condition, an esophageal perforation, that was "missed" by the doctor who was reading the X-ray. A few days later, a second doctor happened to take a look at the X-ray and saw the problem, however, by that time the esophageal perforation had gotten much worse to the point that it could not be surgically repaired. The other issue that sometimes comes up in radiology cases is that the radiology department does not send the test results to the doctors taking care of the patient and that too can lead to a delay in a patient getting the treatment that he or she needs.

One of the biggest parts of the damages in this case was pain and suffering. This man spent months and months in the hospital with his wife by his side. It was a physically and emotionally draining ordeal, and that is the essence of "pain and suffering" compensation.

This plaintiff was self-employed in a small manufacturing business, and that made the claim for lost wages or "diminished earning capacity" a little more difficult to prove. Any time you are dealing with a self-employed person, there are always questions about what their true earnings are. In this case, we were able to show prior revenues of the business to help establish a baseline of earning potential. Nevertheless, it is still more difficult projecting wage loss than, for example, a person who is a straight hourly wage employee.

Another aspect of damages in this case was the loss of household services. The plaintiff-husband had been pretty handy around the house and was able to do a great many things to maintain the home. After his injury, however he was limited physically in the sort of work that he could do, particularly any heavy lifting or sustained standing and that, in turn, limited what he could do around the house. Lost household services are a potential claim in any injury or wrongful death case. Sometimes you have to rely on an expert witness to project what the value of those services are.

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