What Is Meningitis?

Meningitis is a serious medical condition that can be life-threatening. This condition is characterized by inflammation of both the fluid and membranes surrounding your brain and spinal cord. Immediate medical care is required. Early appropriate diagnosis and treatment are paramount for your quality of life, and even your survival. (1)

“Most cases of meningitis in the United States are caused by a viral infection, but bacterial, parasitic and fungal infections are other causes. Some cases of meningitis improve without treatment in a few weeks. Others can be life-threatening and require emergency antibiotic treatment.” (2)

Roughly 600 to 1,000 people contract meningococcal disease in the U.S. annually. Of those who get the disease, 10% to 15% die. (3)


“Meningococcal disease is often misdiagnosed as something less serious because early symptoms are similar to influenza and other common viral illnesses.”

People who contract meningitis often experience some combination of these symptoms: (4)

  • High fever.
  • Headache.
  • Stiff neck.
  • Confusion.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Exhaustion.
  • Purplish rash.

You may need to seek medical attention immediately if you notice any of these symptoms. This is especially true if they come on suddenly, are severe, or become increasingly alarming. (5)

Correctly diagnosing meningitis promptly is essential because this condition can be fatal. Any misdiagnosis can delay necessary treatment and cause you more injury – even death. (6)

If you or someone you know was seriously hurt because of a meningitis misdiagnosis, a lawsuit can help get the compensation you deserve.

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Types of Meningitis

There are six types of meningitis, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: (7)

Bacterial Meningitis

Meningitis brought on because of bacteria can be deadly. If you contract this type, you need to seek immediate medical attention. Generally, the bacteria leading to bacterial meningitis spreads from person to person. However, some can spread through food.

Viral Meningitis

Meningitis caused by viruses is also serious, but is typically less dangerous than bacterial meningitis. People with normal healthy immune systems who contract it generally get better on their own. The viruses leading to viral meningitis can be spread from person to person. However, “most people infected with these viruses will not develop meningitis.”

Fungal Meningitis

Fungal meningitis is rare. You can get it by inhaling fungal spores from the environment. People with certain medical conditions, or compromised immune systems, face a greater risk of contracting fungal meningitis than the general population. This includes people who suffer from diabetes, cancer, or HIV.

Parasitic Meningitis

Some parasites can cause meningitis or attack the brain or nervous system in other ways. This type of meningitis is not nearly as common as viral and bacterial meningitis.

Amebic Meningitis

A specific type of microscopic amoeba, called Naegleria fowleri, lives in soil and warm water. It can infect you and cause a highly destructive infection – primary amebic meningoencephalitis (PAM). This type of meningitis affecting the brain is rare, but devastating.

Noninfectious Meningitis

Sometimes certain medical conditions, drugs, or procedures can bring about noninfectious meningitis. These include: cancer, lupus, head injury, brain surgery and specific drugs.

What Makes a Misdiagnosis of Meningitis Medical Malpractice?

Misdiagnosis on its own is not malpractice. It can fall under the category of malpractice if a doctor fails to meet the standard of care in diagnosing a medical condition, and the failure to diagnose correctly causes an actual injury.

Currently in the U.S., medical error by health care professionals is the third leading cause of death. In fact, medical errors may account for as many as 251,000 deaths annually. (8)

In personal injury lawsuits, when you sue a health care provider or physician, your lawsuit must state they committed “negligent acts that result in patient injury … Negligence occurs when a health care professional or provider fails to strictly follow appropriate standards of care.” (9)

Getting Compensation

Your attorney must prove “substandard medical care resulted in the injury.”

If a plaintiff is able to prove this, you can be compensated and may also recover damages for: (10)

  • Medical costs.
  • Lost income.
  • Pain and suffering.
  • Disability.
  • Disfigurement.

To bring this type of claim, the person suing must address specific legal elements: duty, breach, damage, and causation. (11) Because of these legal questions, you need to find an attorney who knows what needs to be done and can help you through the legal process.

Are you or a loved one suffering because a doctor misdiagnosed meningitis? You may be eligible for compensation.

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Hiring a Lawyer to File a Lawsuit

Medical malpractice is just one of many types of legal cases. When it comes to filing a lawsuit against a medical facility or individual health care professional, you need to hire an attorney from a firm experienced in this area of law.

You want to hire a very qualified attorney for the job. The right attorney for you has extensive experience and knowledge in handling medical malpractice lawsuits. Your attorney should also know the statutes governing the medical profession in your state.

How W&L Can Help

If you were significantly injured due to your doctor’s negligence, or a loved one suffered irreparable brain damage because of medical malpractice, you may be entitled to seek compensation.

If someone you loved died from meningitis because your doctor misdiagnosed their condition, we urge you to contact us for a free consultation. You can reach us by phone or online.

Weitz & Luxenberg is a well-regarded law firm based in New York City. Our personal injury attorneys have been successfully handling complex medical malpractice cases for over three decades.

We have a solid track record of winning. Here are a few examples of our successes:

  • W&L achieved a $6.15 million settlement on behalf of the family of an infant who suffered irreparable brain damage because her doctor failed to diagnose and treat her meningitis quickly and effectively.
  • W&L achieved settlements of more than $2 million each on behalf of families who lost loved ones after two single mothers died from receiving multiple misdiagnoses and inappropriate treatments.
  • W&L negotiated a $1.975 million settlement on behalf of the family of a woman who died due to multiple misdiagnoses of a ruptured appendix.