Mistakes run rampant in the world — it’s what makes us human, and the very reason why we’re capable of change. This holds true across industries and cultures. People of various backgrounds and professions also have room for improvement and mistakes.
A wrong document may have been filed by an accountant, whereas a chef may have accidentally used a different ingredient. When it comes to saving lives, however, the room for mistakes is incredibly minuscule. Mistakes in the medical world can lead to insurmountable consequences, such as death and the altering of lives.
For this reason, patients are protected by medical malpractice laws all over the world. In the event that a doctor, or any healthcare professional, becomes negligent, the patient will be given the power to hold them accountable. Any improper actions can be punished by the law, and those affected as a result can receive ample compensation for the damages.
Florida regards such instances highly, which is why certain laws have been altered and changed for the betterment of the victims. Until recently, Florida has laws capping the claims to up to $500,000 only, which includes the pain and suffering damages a patient can go through. Should the injuries be catastrophic, the claims can reach up to $1,000,000. However, these costs can never amount to lives lost – after years of protests, the Florida Supreme Court has now ruled this 2003 caps arbitrary, unfair, and utterly unconstitutional.
Today, patients are free to pursue what they deserve, especially if a trusted medical professional has led them into harm’s way. If you or a loved one continues to suffer due to the negligence or carelessness of a doctor, nurse, or any other medical professional in Florida, this guide is for you.
The recent reforms should be given a better platform, especially if you wish to achieve the justice you deserve. For this reason, we’ve come up with a comprehensive guide about medical malpractice. If you wish to learn more about medical malpractice, as well as the laws surrounding it and everything else you need to learn about filing, analyze the details written down below:
Table of Contents
Understanding the Law: The Medical Negligence Statute of Limitations in Florida
Healthcare professionals go through rigorous training for a reason—they work to save lives. As such, they’re expected to treat patients with the utmost care and respect. You quite literally have to trust them with your lives, and so you expect them to give you the best possible course of treatment to alleviate any medical issues you may have. This a right – a standard of care every single person in the world deserves to experience.
According to the Florida laws, the standard of care is defined as the following:
“level of care, skill, and treatment, which, in light of all relevant surrounding circumstances, is recognized as acceptable and appropriate by reasonably prudent similar health care providers.”
In other words, all medical professionals are expected to serve you to the best of their abilities. Should they fail to do so out of negligence and rejection, they will have committed medical malpractice. Any injuries or death that may arise out of their reluctance, hesitation, and carelessness will be seen under the statute as a crime.
What are the types of medical malpractice?
1 – When a healthcare provider fails to diagnose or offers you a wrong diagnosis
It’s part of a doctor’s role to listen to your complaints thoroughly, no matter how irrelevant they may seem. Listening is necessary to a proper diagnosis, as only then will they be able to come up with the right testing methods.
Unfortunately, most doctors do not listen and understand, causing you to go through unnecessary diagnostic tests for injuries or illnesses you do not have. Others will claim that there is nothing to worry about, dismissing you back home. Such missed or wrong diagnoses can delay proper treatment, leaving you in pain or fatal injuries.
2 – When a surgeon commits errors
Although surgeons are regarded as highly trained and skilled, others fall short in the operating room. A surgeon can make a variety of mistakes on the table, including operating on the wrong body part. Others can puncture or damage otherwise healthy organs, causing an individual to further suffer.
It’s also possible that surgeons can damage your arteries due to miscalculations, causing massive bleeding that can prove to be fatal. More often than not, however, surgeons mostly end up leaving items inside a patient, such as bandages and cotton swabs. These mistakes lead to additional corrective surgeries, causing the patient more time, pain, and money.
3 – When an anesthesiologist commits errors
Anesthesia is a necessary part of every surgical procedure, as this will help keep patients away from feeling any pain. It should be given at the right dosage and at the right time, however – too much or too little will compromise the patient’s health. Too little anesthesia will cause them to wake up during the painful operation, while too much can induce them into a coma.
Both can lead to devastating outcomes, so it’s important that anesthesiologists come up with an adequate analysis of history and of course, remain alert in the operating room.
4 – When a doctor prescribes the wrong medications
Medications are designed to help support treatment plans, but the wrong dosage and prescriptions can impede the patient from ever recovering. More often than not, doctors end up prescribing the wrong medications, leading to an overdose. Others end up affecting the patient’s overall health, especially if they end up allergic to the medication. In the worst-case scenario, medication-induced allergies can be fatal.
5 – When a doctor commits birth injuries
Mothers and babies all over the world suffer from defects and death, mainly due to medical malpractice. Healthcare providers end up causing mothers serious injuries, which include poor follow-up care plans and downplaying of symptoms. In more ways than one, postnatal mothers can suffer from internal bleeding and high blood pressure, making them highly vulnerable. Babies also suffer from injuries during birth, such as oxygen deprivation, strangulation, and even loss of limbs.
When is it appropriate to file a medical lawsuit?
Other Considerations — Time is Against You
Now that you’re given ample knowledge about medical malpractice and you wish to take legal action, keep in mind that time is against you. Never delay consulting with a Florida lawyer about your options, because the statute of limitations can impede your call for justice. You will need to be prompt and precise when filing a malpractice suit against a negligent healthcare practitioner, be it a doctor, nurse, surgeon, or anesthesiologist.
Failure to file a claim within the time limit can permanently bar you from pursuing ample compensation. Florida operates under a two-year statute, meaning that you have two years to make a claim following the date of your injury, or the confirmation of the injury.
What does a medical malpractice claim constitute?
We’ve established that any patient who has been injured or died due to the negligence of a medical practitioner can file for a medical practice lawsuit. However, filing for such a lawsuit is not easy. The process can be quite complicated, especially since you are expected to meet the following requirements to successfully file a malpractice claim:
1 – Evidence of Breach of the Standard of Care
For a successful lawsuit, you must present solid evidence that a doctor, surgeon, anesthesiologist, or nurse has breached the standard of care, which is owed to all patients seeking medical care and attention.
To do so, you must find a medical expert practicing the same field as the doctor who has committed negligence and malpractice, to prove that your injuries have indeed been caused by their actions. You need to obtain a sworn affidavit from this doctor – without this, your claim will not be entertained by the court.
2 – A Proven Proximate Causation
Apart from the evidence of a breach of the standard of care, you must also establish and prove proximate causation. This means that the victim needs to prove that the doctor’s action has caused your injury, which is officially deemed as the “proximate cause”. In the simplest of terms, you must be able to prove in court that without the doctor’s negligence and malpractice, your injuries will not have existed.
3 – List and Evidence of Damages
Medical malpractice lawsuits can be difficult to handle, especially since the victim must be dealing with significant harm for their claims to be considered viable. The costs of pursuing a malpractice claim are high—this includes the medical expert review, your dedication, and of course, the pain and suffering you are currently experiencing. In other words, your injuries must be serious enough, so much so that you have incurred massive medical expenses, missed work, or lost the ability to work, and so much more.
What kind of claims or damages can I receive from the lawsuit?
The damages that can be awarded to you are designed to help you cover your lost wages, medical expenses, and your pain and suffering. In other words, you might be able to receive a hefty sum, especially if you have suffered extensive damages. There are two types of damages you can benefit from:
- Non-economic damages: Non-economic damages pertain to the compensation for pain and suffering. Under the new Florida laws and statutes, there is no longer a cap on how much the victim can be awarded.
- Punitive damages: Punitive damages pertain to compensations given to victims from purposefully done injuries. Medical professionals who have performed such injuries with intent are ordered to award these damages, essentially intended to punish the wrongdoing.
Can anything hinder my success in claiming medical malpractice damages?
As previously discussed, filing for medical malpractice in Florida can be an uphill battle, Unlike cases of wrongful death, personal injuries, or even motor vehicle accidents, the laws of the state see medical malpractice differently. Victims of medical malpractice are required to go through the presuit process, which is essentially an investigation prior to filing.
Florida’s presuit process involves a series of investigations surrounding the case. Expert witnesses will be consulted, which includes doctors or other healthcare professionals from the same field. The other party will also be awarded written notice of lawsuit intent, effectively letting them know that a victim will be suing them for negligence. The party in question will be given 90 days to investigate the claim, and the victims will need to sit tight and wait for the days to pass. Any attorney that fails to comply with these presuit requirements will bar the case from escalating, so patience is key.
The court will be reviewing medical records, consulting with physicians and practitioners from various corners of the country, and so much more. Ultimately, this process will result in a decision, where the written options from the experts tap will reveal if there is any basis to the lawsuit.
Only then can a victim fully pursue their pathway to justice—from everything gathered, having a professional attorney by your side will be paramount to your success.
Consulting the Help of A Medical Malpractice Law Firm
Although breakthroughs have been made, the medical malpractice laws and statutes in Florida continue to be ever-complex and evolving. To win a lawsuit, you must first research thoroughly, as an extensive understanding of your current predicament can be the key to your success. Having a professional lawyer by your side is also paramount, especially since the presuit requirements can be difficult to go through alone.
Any mistake during the process can affect the viability and strength of your case, especially since you’re dealing with healthcare providers that are also heavily guarded by laws. As you plan your medical malpractice lawsuit, remember to keep this comprehensive guide in mind.
The battle will be long and difficult, but if you believe that you have been wronged and deserve justice for how your or a loved one’s life has been altered, never hesitate to fight for what’s right. Going through such a traumatic experience warrants you the right to proper compensation.
If you’re looking for the best medical malpractice lawyer in Florida, Shiner Law Group has you covered. We are a law firm with a pool of talented, licensed, and experienced attorneys, dedicated to helping injured people pursue the justice they deserve. Allow us to represent you in court – book a consultation today.