Circumcisions are often performed on male children not because of any medical reason, but instead because of social norms in America. In many other countries male circumcision is not the norm and is considered an unnecessary treatment. In America the procedure is fairly routine and has a low complication rate, but unfortunately injuries still do occur. If your family is considering circumcising your child, please educate yourself on the risks and benefits of the procedure before making your decision.
Depending on the nature and circumstances of the injury, you may have a case. These sorts of have been tried as medical malpractice or as personal injury lawsuits. You could elect to file suit against the doctor, hospital or practitioner who performed the procedure or you could choose to sue the company that manufactures the equipment used to perform the procedure.
Children who have undergone botched circumcisions could need continued medical treatment including cosmetic surgery and psychological therapy due to their injury. These costs would be considered in the calculation of damages.
A wrongful circumcision is one performed without valid and informed consent. Since most circumcisions are performed on newborns, the child is unable to legally consent to anything himself and instead, his guardians make the decision for him.
If the procedure was not done for medical reasons, then it is an elective procedure and there could be a case. Depending upon your jurisdiction's laws and the circumstances of your case, it could be found that the procedure was done without valid and informed consent thus rendering it an illegal procedure.
Different jurisdictions may use different terminology, but in general this means that the person giving consent has the right to do so, that they were informed of both the benefits and risks of the procedure and that they were not coerced into making a certain decision.
If your child is still a minor then the statute of limitations has not started to run for them. However, once they reach the age of majority (usually 18) then that clock will start running.
A Mohel is a Jewish person who performs circumcisions. Unfortunately for the men who were circumcised by many of these Mohel, there is no law requiring that Mohels be licensed medical professionals. Since Mohel are often not doctors, they cannot be sued for medical malpractice.
In addition, many courts are wary of hearing personal injury cases against Mohel, as they consider personal injury claims against Mohel as a form of clergy malpractice. Clergy malpractice is very uncommon in the United States, as judges often believe that trying such cases would be an infringement on religious freedom.
This isn’t to say that a lawsuit against a Mohel wouldn’t succeed. It will, however, be an uphill battle.
Circumcision requires the consent of both parents. A doctor who performs a circumcision without the consent of both parents should know that there is a strong medical malpractice lawsuit waiting for the doctor at the end of that operation.
If a parent opposes a circumcision while the other parent strongly supports such a procedure, the parent who opposes the circumcision may be able to get a court injunction to stop the doctor from performing the operation.
Parents, as legal guardians, have extremely wide latitude on the decisions they can make on behalf of the child. The law, for all intents and purposes, treats the parent’s decisions as the child’s decision, at least until the child is old enough to speak for himself.
As such, it is often very difficult for a person to sue his own parents for a decision his parents made for him when he was incapable of making an informed decision himself. Some attorneys who specialize in circumcision lawsuits advocate for stronger laws in this area, as parents certainly do not have the right to mutilate their children. Nevertheless, this is an area of much debate.
Personal injury and medical malpractice fields can be very difficult to navigate without professional help. Please contact an attorney to discuss your case.
Last Modified: 05-21-2017 11:56 PM PDTLaw Library Disclaimer
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