Medical malpractice happens when a patient is in some way harmed by a doctor or another type of medical professional. This professional or doctor fails to perform his or her medical duties competently and in a manner that results in harm or injury to the patient. If you or your loved one has been harmed by the negligence of a nurse, doctor, or other medical professional, it is important that you speak to an experienced malpractice attorney.
Because medical malpractice laws have recently changed in Florida, you should not try to take on a medical malpractice case by yourself. The rules regarding medical malpractice vary from state to state, but there are certain rules that apply to most cases. While medical malpractice might seem like a rare occurrence, unfortunately it is more common than you might have thought. In 2016, out of every 100,000 Florida residents, 16.2 were the victim of medical malpractice, resulting in a payout of over $248 million dollars.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice
There are a wide variety of situations that may cause the need for a medical malpractice claim. However, the most common types of medical malpractice are usually one of the following:
- Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis: When you go to a doctor for help, you expect him or her to evaluate you and give you a correct diagnosis. Unfortunately though, this does not always happen. Failing to diagnose a person properly can result in devastating effects on that person’s health or even death. Commonly misdiagnosed conditions include a variety of cancer types, brain tumors, ectopic pregnancies, and appendicitis.
- Improper Treatment: If a physician treats a patient in a manner that a competent physician would not have done, a patient may have a claim for medical malpractice. It may also result in a possible claim if the doctor or medical professional chooses the appropriate treatment but fails to administer it correctly.
- Failure to Warn Patient of Known Risks: Doctors are required to warn their patients of any known risks that a treatment or procedure has. This is known as the duty of informed consent. If an informed patient would have chosen not to go through with a treatment or procedure because of the risks, but was not informed of the risks, the patient may be able to file a medical malpractice claim, especially if he or she was injured or harmed during the procedure or treatment.
- Failure to Administer Anesthesia Correctly: It is likely that if you have surgery you will be given anesthesia. This is a treatment that puts you to sleep during the surgery so that you are not in pain or conscious during the surgery. Unfortunately, there have been some serious forms of malpractice when this anesthesia was not given correctly. The experience can be horribly painful and traumatizing for the patient and creates an opportunity for a medical malpractice claim.
- Preventable Injuries That Occur During Hospital Admission: Hospitals have the duty to ensure that patients are safe and adequately cared for during admission. This means that employees must be evaluated for competency and their certifications and licenses must be up to date. If a hospital hires a physician, nurse, or other medical professional who does not meet these requirements and inflicts harm on a patient, the hospital is responsible for the employee’s negligence.
- Childbirth Injuries: This, unfortunately, is a common cause for a medical malpractice suit. There may be negligence on the part of the doctor for poor prenatal care or issues that arise during delivery. These cases are sometimes called “wrongful birth” cases but are actually a medical malpractice case.
Requirements for Medical Malpractice Cases in Florida
Most states, including Florida, have special rules that must be followed when filing claims for medical malpractice. It is important that you know these rules and make certain to follow them precisely.
Statute of Limitations: In Florida there is a statute of limitations on how long you or your loved one has to file a lawsuit for medical malpractice. That amount of time is two years from the date you were injured. If you do not file a claim within that time, you could be banned from ever pursuing any form of compensation for your injuries.
Proof of Breach of Standard of Care: You must have evidence that the physician or other medical professional breached the standard of care owed to you. Florida’s Malpractice Act requires that a medical expert working in the same field as the person who committed the alleged malpractice create a sworn affidavit to establish that the breach occurred. Without the affidavit, the court will throw out your claim.
Proximate Causation: In addition to proving the above breach, you must also prove causation. Proving causation means that you have to prove that the doctor’s negligence was the ‘proximate cause’ of your injury. This shows that without the doctor’s negligence, you would not have sustained the injuries.
Damages: To make a claim in Florida court for medical malpractice, you or your loved one must have experienced significant harm. The reason for this is that the cost of making a malpractice claim is exceptionally high due to the requirements listed above. The medical experts involved in the case do not provide the affidavits and evidence for free. Your injury must have resulted in missed time from work, significant medical charges, and extensive pain and suffering.
Limitation for Damage Awards
Florida limits the amount of damages available to the plaintiffs in a medical malpractice lawsuit. These limitations apply only to non-economic damages. The laws regarding medical malpractice caps in Florida are much more complicated than many other states because they impose different limitations for different types of damages and who caused the damage. These limitations, however, were ruled unconstitutional in 2017, so are in statute only, but not practice.
Why You Need an Attorney
If you feel like you may have a valid claim for medical malpractice because you or your loved one has been seriously injured by a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional, you need to consult with an experienced, knowledgeable attorney. The attorneys at Brill & Rinaldi, The Law Firm have over 40 years of combined experience and will take the time to review your case and discuss your possible legal options. Contact us for a free consultation today.