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When to Sue an Optometrist for Eye Injuries

By Christopher Coble, Esq. | Last updated on

Ask most Americans which of their five senses they would least like to go without, and chances are they will say, "Sight." Our eyesight and vision is one of our most coveted aspects, and many consider blindness the worst thing that could happen to them.

So it's no surprise that we take eye health and care so seriously, and why optometrists are held to such a high standard of care. And if an optometrist fails to provide eyesight and vision care up to that standard, lawsuits are possible.

Seeing an Optometrist

Like any other doctor, an optometrist can be liable for medical malpractice when that malpractice causes an injury. Optometrist malpractice could take the form of failing to diagnose an ocular disease, or medical condition, for misdiagnosing a vision ailment, or for prescribing the wrong treatment.

Optometrists could also be held liable for the negligence if an injury occurs during eye surgery, or while using medical devices if they ignored the manufacturer's instructions. And an optometrist may also prescribe an incorrect set of glasses or contact lenses, doing more damage to your eyesight than good.

Suing an Optometrist

A case for malpractice against an optometrist looks like the same as those against other doctors. State malpractice laws can differ, but most lawsuits are premised on four main elements:

  • Duty: Optometrists owe their patients a duty of care, to diagnose and treat eye and vision ailments to the same ability of other optometrists.
  • Breach: You must prove that an optometrist failed to meet this duty, generally by misdiagnosis or mistreatment.
  • Causation: You must prove that you were injured as the result of an optometrist's breach of duty, and that your injuries were the fault of the optometrist, and not something some other cause.
  • Damages: You must prove your injuries, through medical records, medical expenses, or even emotional distress.

Injured plaintiffs must prove all of these elements to have a successful claim for optometrist malpractice, and proving each element can be complicated, involving medical evidence and doctor testimony.

To find out if you can sue an optometrist for malpractice, you should consult a local personal injury attorney.

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