Can You Sue a Chiropractor for Breaking Your Ribs?

Sue a Chiropractor for Breaking Your Ribs

Chiropractic treatments, while beneficial for many, can sometimes lead to unintended and severe consequences. One of the potential risks includes rib fractures, a painful and alarming condition. If you’ve experienced this unfortunate outcome, you might be wondering, can you sue a chiropractor for breaking your ribs?

This blog post aims to explore this legal predicament, discussing the various aspects related to the accountability of chiropractors and how you can navigate such a situation.

Chiropractic Care: An Overview

Chiropractic care is a form of alternative medicine that involves the diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of disorders related to the curved spine. Chiropractors primarily use spinal adjustments or manipulations to restore mobility and function to joints, relieve pain, and improve overall health.

While chiropractic treatments have been known to provide relief for conditions such as back pain, neck pain, and shoulder blade pain, there have also been cases where patients have suffered from serious injuries or complications.

Risks Associated with Chiropractic Treatments

  1. Herniated Discs: Spinal manipulations, particularly those not performed correctly, can increase the risk of herniating or worsening an already herniated disc.
  2. Rib Fractures: The force applied during chiropractor chest adjustment may sometimes lead to rib fractures, particularly in patients with osteoporosis.
  3. Cauda Equina Syndrome (CES): Although rare, high-velocity neck manipulations can lead to this serious condition characterized by pressure and swelling on the nerves at the end of the spinal cord.
  4. Stroke: Some studies suggest an association between high-velocity neck manipulation and a certain type of stroke, but the evidence is not clear-cut.
  5. Other Potential Risks: These may include headaches, tiredness, and discomfort during or after chiropractic treatment.

Can a Chiropractor Break Your Ribs?

Chiropractor broke patient ribs

The answer, unfortunately, is yes. Rib injuries from chiropractic treatments, while not standard, do happen. Overly application of pressure point therapy or manipulation of people with pre-existing bone conditions can result in breaks or fractures.

Liability and Negligence

In case of such mishaps, the question of liability arises. Typically, chiropractors will have professional liability insurance to cover such incidents. However, to successfully sue your chiropractor, you need to establish that they were negligent in their duty of care.

Establishing Negligence

Negligence in healthcare is not merely about a bad outcome—it’s about demonstrating that standard care was not followed. You must prove that the chiropractor did not exercise the degree of skill, care, and treatment that a reasonably competent chiropractor would under the same circumstances. If you can establish that, then you have a case.

What to Do If You Suspect Negligence?

If you have experienced broken ribs after chiropractic treatment and suspect negligence, consider the following steps:

  • Seek immediate medical attention.
  • Document your injuries and any subsequent medical treatments.
  • Consult a personal injury attorney who specializes in medical malpractice cases.

Can You Sue a Chiropractor for Breaking Your Ribs?

chiropractor sued for breaking ribs

Yes, you can sue a chiropractor for breaking your ribs if you believe their treatment was negligent or inappropriate, leading to your injury. However, suing a healthcare professional for malpractice is a complex matter and requires a thorough examination of the circumstances surrounding the incident.

In cases where a patient suffers from an injury or complication due to chiropractic treatment, they may consider taking legal action against the chiropractor.

To establish a successful medical malpractice, claim against a chiropractor, you will need to prove the following:

  • The chiropractor owed you a duty of care.
  • The chiropractor breached their duty of care by performing the treatment improperly or negligently.
  • The breach caused your injury or complication.
  • You suffered damages as a result of the injury or complication.

It’s important to note that chiropractors are required to obtain informed consent from their patients before performing any treatment. This means that the patient must be fully aware of the potential risks and give their consent for the treatment to proceed.

If you can establish negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for:

  • Medical expenses associated with the injury.
  • Cost for chiropractor services due to time off from work.
  • Pain and suffering, which includes any physical, emotional, and psychological impact.

Factors to Consider Before Filing a Lawsuit

Before considering legal action against a chiropractor for breaking your ribs, it’s important to consider the following factors:

  1. Evidence: You will need strong evidence to prove that the chiropractor was responsible for your rib fractures. This may include medical records, x-rays, and testimony from medical experts.
  2. Statute of Limitations: Each state has a specific period within which medical malpractice claims must be filed. It’s important to be aware of these limitations and take timely action.
  3. Strength of the Case: Medical malpractice cases can be complex and expensive. Before filing a lawsuit, it’s essential to consult with an experienced attorney who can assess the strength of your case and provide guidance on whether pursuing legal action is in your best interest.

Steps to Take if You Decide to Sue

how to sue a chiropractor for breaking your ribs

If you’ve decided to pursue legal action against your chiropractor for rib fractures sustained during treatment, several key steps must be followed. The process can be intricate and daunting, but understanding these steps can make it more manageable and increase your chances of a favorable outcome.

Let’s take a closer look at the steps to take if you decide to sue your chiropractor for a rib fracture.

1. Gather Pertinent Documents and Evidence

If you decide to sue your chiropractor for a broken rib, the first step is to gather all the necessary documents and evidence that can support your claim. These may include medical reports, x-rays, and other relevant health records that indicate you suffered a rib fracture after the chiropractic treatment.

If possible, secure written opinions from other healthcare professionals that state that the injury was likely the result of the chiropractor’s action. Photos of your physical state following the treatment, testimonies from witnesses present during the session, and correspondence with the chiropractor after the incident can further strengthen your claim.

2. Consult with a Medical Malpractice Attorney

After gathering all potential evidence, your next step should be to consult with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. Given the complexity of medical malpractice lawsuits, it is crucial to have a legal expert guide you through the process.

Remember, most attorneys offer a free consultation, so take advantage of this to find a lawyer who best suits your needs.

3. File a Complaint with the State Chiropractic Board

While awaiting your legal consultation, consider filing a formal complaint with your state’s chiropractic licensing board. This board holds the authority to investigate claims of misconduct or malpractice among chiropractors.

Reporting your case could potentially lead to disciplinary action against the chiropractor, which may support your lawsuit. Ensure to include all relevant details and be prepared to participate in their investigation process.

4. Start the Legal Proceedings

If your attorney determines that you have a strong case, they will initiate the legal proceedings. This typically begins by filing a complaint or petition in court, which details the circumstance of your case and the relief sought.

The chiropractor will then be served with a copy of the complaint and will have an opportunity to respond. Throughout the process, your attorney will guide you, represent your interests, and work to negotiate a settlement or, if necessary, present your case at trial.

5. Prepare for a Possible Trial

Medical malpractice cases often end in settlements, but there’s always a chance that yours might go to trial if a settlement cannot be reached. Preparing for this possibility involves working closely with your attorney to build a compelling case.

This may include depositions, expert testimonies, and other forms of evidence presentation. Meanwhile, it’s essential to mentally prepare for a trial, as the process can be lengthy and emotionally taxing. Your attorney will ensure that you are well informed and supported throughout the entire process.

Case Studies and Verdicts

To provide context for the potential outcomes of a medical malpractice case against a chiropractor, here are two recent cases and their corresponding verdicts:

  1. In Ward v. Lawson, the plaintiff sued his chiropractor after sustaining rib fractures during an adjustment session. The court found that the chiropractor had breached their duty of care by failing to properly assess the plaintiff’s medical history and perform the adjustment with reasonable care. The jury awarded the plaintiff $1.2 million in damages.
  2. In Katz v. Goldstein, a patient sued her chiropractor after sustaining multiple rib fractures during an adjustment session. The court found that the chiropractor had acted negligently, and the injury was a result of their actions. The jury awarded the plaintiff $750,000 in damages.


1. Can I sue my chiropractor for breaking my ribs?

Yes, you can sue a chiropractor for breaking your ribs. It would be best if you gathered all pertinent medical records, and followed the legal process.

2. What evidence do I need to sue my chiropractor for rib fractures?

You’ll need medical reports, x-rays, or any health records that indicate you suffered a rib fracture following the chiropractic treatment. Additionally, written opinions from other healthcare professionals, photos of your physical state following the treatment, and testimonies from witnesses.

3. What kind of compensation can I expect if my lawsuit is successful?

If your lawsuit is successful, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering, and loss of quality of life. However, the exact compensation would vary depending on your specific circumstances and the impact of the injury on your life.

4. What’s the typical duration of a medical malpractice lawsuit?

The timeline for a medical malpractice lawsuit can vary widely, depending on factors such as the case’s intricacy, the amount of evidence involved, and the court’s docket. Generally, it may take anywhere from several months to a few years to resolve.

5. What should I do if I can’t afford a medical malpractice attorney?

Many medical malpractice attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if they win your case. During your search for an attorney, ask about their fee structure, and don’t hesitate to discuss your financial situation with them.

Bottom Line

Pursuing a lawsuit against a chiropractor for a rib fracture is a serious decision that involves several critical steps. It requires gathering evidence, consulting with a medical malpractice attorney, reporting the incident to the state chiropractic board, and potentially preparing for a trial. The process can be arduous and emotionally challenging, but with the right support and legal advice, you can seek justice and potentially receive compensation for your injuries. To learn more on the subject and explore other topics related to chiropractic care, we invite you to read our other blogs on the topic.

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