Medical Malpractice Lawyers in Florida
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Needless to say, the medical industry provides an essential service, and the expertise of doctors and medical staff saves lives. However, what happens when treatment goes wrong? Personal injury clients often wonder, “Can I sue my doctor?”
The short answer is, “Yes, absolutely.” That said, medical malpractice cases are often more complex than more commonplace personal injury cases. In addition to the complicated facts associated with medical practice and procedures, plaintiffs seeking compensation must also work within a specialized set of laws created specifically for the medical malpractice context.
Our Florida medical malpractice lawyers are here to help. We can evaluate your facts, navigate the law, and ultimately help you strategize a path toward maximum compensation. If you or a loved one has been injured by a healthcare provider, call Zinda Law Group at (800) 863-5312 for a 100% free consultation with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer.
What are my first steps in a medical malpractice claim?
Medical treatment is not a perfect science, and the “standard of care” does not demand perfection. Because most people do not have the medical expertise necessary to evaluate medical treatment and because the “standard of care” is defined only generally, plaintiffs often have a difficult time proving that a provider fell short of the standard. Therefore, if you were hurt by a doctor in Florida—for example, in a surgery gone wrong—there are two general steps you should consider taking.
1. Collect Evidence
You should first collect as much evidence as possible. In particular, you are entitled to copies of your medical treatment records—request copies from all providers. This will help save time in conducting the “reasonable investigation” demanded by the governing statute before filing a case. Remember, due to the statute of limitations, time is of the essence.
One strategy a defending provider may take is to argue that your injuries were actually caused by an underlying injury or previous treatment. Records of previous injuries and treatments can help substantiate counterarguments.
2. Consult With a Lawyer
If you have been injured by a medical provider, do not hesitate to consult with medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. The earlier your case is evaluated the better.
Also, before consulting with an attorney, be very careful what you reveal to medical malpractice insurance companies. Victims in personal injury cases of all sorts often turn to insurance companies before speaking with an attorney; however, insurance companies are not neutral third parties. They are for-profit businesses, and their primary concern is their own bottom line; therefore, insurance settlement offers are often based not on your actual pain and suffering but instead on the legal minimum they are allowed to offer.
Having one of our medical malpractice lawyers evaluate your case first can ensure that you know your full rights and are being treated fairly. Remember, anything you say to an insurance company can be used against you in litigation. Therefore, never sign forms or waivers provided by an insurance company and never admit fault before consulting with an attorney.
Read More: How to Negotiate with Insurance Companies
Medical malpractice statistics
According to a 2016 study by the American Medical Association (AMA), 34% of all physicians have had a medical liability claim filed against them. The numbers are particularly high for the following specialties: general surgery (63.2%), obstetrics/gynecology (63.6%), emergency medicine (51.7%), and surgical “sub-specialties” (47.4%).
However, as with most personal injury cases, few lawsuits (3%, to be exact) filed against physicians ever reached the trial stage. By contrast, according to a Medscape Malpractice Report for 2019, 33% of physicians sued said that the lawsuits filed against them were settled before trial. To improve your chances of success, consult with a medical malpractice lawyer near you as soon as possible.
Medical malpractice claims are as diverse as the sustainable injuries. The variety is practically infinite, and each claim should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. However, some common claims include:
- Delayed diagnosis
- Failure to prevent or treat
- Prescription drug errors
- Surgical errors
- Procedural errors
- Childbirth injuries
- Anesthesia errors
- Dental mistakes
Legal considerations in a medical malpractice case
In Florida, medical malpractice suits are governed by the Comprehensive Medical Malpractice Reform Act, a detailed and extensive statute. Some high points in the statute include a cap on damages, a reiteration of the concept of “negligence” as a route to compensation, and a statute of limitations. Each is explained in turn below.
In personal injury cases, there are typically two kinds of damages available to plaintiffs—economic and non-economic. Economic damages are those that can be reduced to a tangible monetary value; for example, medical bills, pharmacy bills, loss of income (both present and future), and lost earning capacity are all examples of economic damages. Non-economic damages refer to those that cannot be reduced to a monetary value; among other things, this includes your pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of a loved one (legally referred to as “loss of consortium”).
Importantly, the Florida Legislature has set a cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases. In a cause of action for personal injury or wrongful death arising from medical negligence of practitioners, noneconomic damages shall not exceed $500,000 per claimant regardless of the number of defendants in that case.
Though economic and non-economic damages are legally and theoretically distinct, the reality is that the two often overlap; that is, the economic impact of an injury may be reflected in your medical bills and loss of income. Notwithstanding, the most important impact of those same injuries on your life and wellbeing are often not economic in nature. A can help you fully explain that impact to a judge and jury.
Negligence and the “Standard of Care”
Negligence is the most prevalent cause of action in personal injury cases. This cause of action is predicated on the idea that each individual owes all others a general duty to exercise “reasonable care” in their actions to ensure that we do not cause each other harm. To successfully show negligence, the plaintiff must prove four elements:
1. Duty: Defendant owed a legal duty to plaintiff—namely, the duty to use reasonable care.
2. Breach: The defendant breached the duty.
3. Harm: The plaintiff suffered an injury.
4. Causation: The plaintiff’s injury or injuries were caused by the defendant’s breach.
In the medical context, the duty to use “reasonable care” basically means that medical providers must comply with their industry’s standard of care. The prevailing professional standard of care for a given health care provider is that 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 order to prevail in their claim, plaintiffs must show that the “injury was not within the necessary or reasonably foreseeable results of the surgical, medicinal, or diagnostic procedure constituting the medical intervention.”
This language is a very vague, and what the applied standard of care ultimately looks like in different medical scenarios will differ. The experienced medical malpractices attorneys at Zinda Law Group can help you argue this open-ended language to your advantage.
Statute of Limitations
Finally, the governing statute sets a statute of limitations. This is a simple but pivotally important concept. A statute of limitations simply limits how much time may elapse after an injury before a plaintiff can file a case.
In Florida, the normal statute of limitations for personal injury claims is four years. However, this is reduced to two years in medical malpractice claims. In other words, after two years have passed after your injury, you can no longer bring a case seeking compensation.
The statute of limitations is very important in all personal injury cases, but it is particularly sensitive in the medical context. This is so because often times adverse and unintended effects of medical procedures only become apparent well after the original treatment.
Further, the governing statute requires that a “reasonable investigation” be conducted before filing suit. The latency of certain injuries and the need for an investigation can both cut deeply into the two-year time limit. Therefore, if you suspect that you have been injured due to medical malpractice, you should have your case evaluated by a lawyer who specializes in medical malpractice cases as soon as possible.
Read More: Florida Medical Malpractice Statute
OUR medical malpractice lawyers CAN HELP
Medical malpractice cases present unique challenges to recovering compensation; these cases are characterized by the diverse and specialized fact patterns associated with medical practice. Further, specialized laws add another layer of complication. Victims of medical malpractice are highly advised to have their case evaluated by a medical malpractice lawyer who has handled similar cases before.
The experienced Florida medical malpractice attorneys at Zinda Law Group are here to help. We believe that no personal injury victim—whether their injury was caused by a car accident or medical negligence—should have to worry about their ability to afford excellent legal representation. We pride ourselves in providing that representation. Moreover, you pay nothing unless we win your case; that is our No Win, No Fee Guarantee.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.