The Florida Medical Malpractice Guide was created by McKenzie Law Firm to help residents obtain the financial compensation they deserve after suffering from another’s negligence.
When we are sick and injured, we put all of our trust into the medical professionals we seek out. It is not only very tragic, but frightening when the people we trust with our lives do something wrong that results in us being hurt more. Medical malpractice is a horrible situation to be in and we want to express to you our deepest sympathies. Our Florida medical malpractice attorney is here to help you fight against the liable party to get you the compensation that you deserve. We know how difficult this can be and we want to make this easier. After you read about your medical malpractice case, please give our office a call to set up a free consultation.
Florida Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
If you have been injured or harmed by a medical profession, it is so important for you to be aware of the statute of limitations. You are permitted two years from the date of your incident to bring your claim or settle it in civil court. Medical malpractice is a little unique because sometimes the negligence that caused you harm is not always very apparent. For example, if your pharmacist filled the wrong medication for you, it might take some time for you to discover that you are a victim of medical malpractice. In this instance, you would have two years from the date that you discovered, or should have reasonably discovered, the malpractice to bring your case. That allows for some lenience in the law here. You may have four years from when your incident happened, depending on the circumstances.
How Medical Malpractice Compensation Works
If you win your medical malpractice case, you will be entitled to collect damages which will financially compensate you for your injuries. You can receive economic damages for your medical bills and your lost wages if you have had to miss time at work. You can also collect non-economic damages which would include your pain and suffering. Sometimes, you may even be able to seek compensation in the form of punitive damages if the goal is to punish the healthcare professional who caused you harm. That would be necessary if there was negligence out of malice.
Unfortunately, Florida law states that there is a cap to the amount of compensation that you are able to collect from the defendant. You will be capped at $500,000 for your non-economic damages from any individual healthcare provider.
Types of Medical Malpractice Cases
In the medical field, unfortunately there are a lot of different things that can go wrong. Medical malpractice is sort of an umbrella term that encompasses a lot of different possible scenarios. Our Florida medical malpractice attorney is experienced in handling all sorts of medical malpractice cases. The most common medical malpractice cases include:
- Failing to diagnose or delayed diagnosis
- Failing to treat a condition
- Errors in surgery
- Injuries during labor or birth
- Product liability for medical or surgical tools
It is a devastating thing for this to happen to you and we want to express our deepest sympathy that you have had to endure pain and suffering because of someone else’s negligence. Especially someone whose hands you put your life into. You need to make sure that, whatever happened to you, you seek the help of a trusted doctor to care for you. We understand that there may be some trepidation with the idea, but you have to get better, and this is the only way to do it.
Talking to the Liable Company’s Insurance Company
You should not, under any circumstances, talk to the liable party’s insurance company. You do not want to give them a recorded statement when they come calling to you. It is imperative that you do not do this, as it has the potential of ruining your case. If the insurance company asks you to speak to them, it is to benefit themselves, not you. No matter how much they seem pleasant and helpful, understand that their job is to try to save money for themselves. If they can get you to answer questions in an unfavorable way, they can reduce their responsibility to you, thus allowing them to give you less compensation for your damages. The best thing you can do when they call is have your attorney take over all communication.
Frequently Asked Medical Malpractice Questions
What Are Some Tips About Choosing a Medical Malpractice Attorney?
There are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, the attorney that they hire needs to have experience. That experience needs to be in the field of medical malpractice or medical negligence, whatever you want to call it.
As well as that, they need to have their practice area focused on that. It at least needs to be one of the main focuses of their practice area. The practice of law is as varied as life is, so it’s important to find an attorney who focuses on a specific area. Each area has its own obstacles and potentials, and an attorney needs to know those. You need to hire an attorney who has experience.
As well, the person you hire needs to be a trial attorney. Especially in medical malpractice cases, it is very important to hire a trial attorney because eight times out of ten you’re going to end up in a trial in a medical malpractice case. They are notoriously known for taking those kinds of cases to trial. Generally speaking, you need to ensure that the attorney you’re going to hire for those kinds of cases is a trial attorney.
What is Breach of Duty?
A question that always arises in medical negligence cases is whether or not the doctor committed malpractice. The way we approach that is looking at what the rules are or specific steps that the doctor was required to follow in the treatment of the patient or during the surgical procedure. If the doctor didn’t follow those specific steps or the rules, in those circumstances there would be a deviation of the standard of care or it would be negligence.
For example, if a standard procedure for a doctor is to obtain the medical history of the patient in order to assess the appropriate course of treatment going forward and the doctor fails to do so and misses some critical history with the patient that makes the procedure dangerous, then those are instances that would be a deviation of the standard of care that could give rise to a claim for medical negligence against that doctor.
What is Causation?
Medical malpractice cases in Florida are pretty complex. That’s why it’s important that you go see a lawyer who has experience in this area. One of the issues in the medical malpractice case that makes these cases so difficult is causation. Causation is when the injured party has to show to the jury that not only did the doctor or medical provider do something wrong, but that wrong ultimately caused the injuries that you are now suffering. Someone can do something wrong but not cause injuries or would have ended up with the same medical condition regardless of whether the doctor did something wrong.
The burden is on you to prove causation. Usually this is done by expert testimony from doctors. This is a complicated process.
How Much Does an Attorney Cost?
Most Florida medical malpractice attorneys work on a contingency fee basis, which means that the client doesn’t pay the lawyer anything up front. Instead, the lawyer takes a portion of any settlement proceeds or if you get a verdict following a trial. It’s not an upfront cost to the client.
Most lawyers will pay for the costs incurred during the litigation such as filing fees because medical malpractice cases do require that we have medical experts to bring a claim. The costs that are associated with a medical malpractice can tend to get very high. Usually most attorneys will pay those costs up front for the client. It doesn’t cost the client anything up front, but you have to keep in mind you will pay for it at the end of your case.
The attorney fees and the cost that the attorney has spent on your case will come out of the settlement proceeds at the end of your case.
Will My Case Go to Trial?
I often get asked during consultations with clients for a medical malpractice case if they will have to go to trial, if they will have to go in the court room at the end of it. Many of medical malpractice cases in Florida will end up settled before reaching trial. There’s no guarantee which case will go to trial and which case will not. It all depends on the strengths and weaknesses of the case and if the defense believes they have a viable defense.
It might be an issue of the amount of the claim. Maybe they agree on the liability, but you can’t reach an agreement on the amount of damages. The case may end up going in front of the jury, and you have to let the jury decide. There are many different ways which you can resolve a medical malpractice case. It can get settled pre-suit before a lawsuit is even filed or it can get settled at any stage during the litigation. Mediation is a great tool available for medical malpractice cases.
Sometimes, even if cases don’t settle at mediation, I’ve seen cases that settle the night before trial and some even during trial. There is no guarantee whether or not your case will get settled, but we do try our best to reach a settlement on your case as quickly as we can.
How Much is My Case Worth?
There is evidence that we collect regarding damages. That runs the gamut of various things; for instance, physical injuries that have occurred to you. What is the cost of fixing those injuries? What is the cost of those procedures? What is the cost of future procedures that you’re going to need to fix the problems that that doctor has caused you?
There are other aspects of damages, which are mental and emotional damages. Those deal with how you are able to take care of your family members, how you are able to take care of yourself, and how your daily life has been affected. Are you no longer engaging in social activities or community activities that you used to engage in as a result of your injuries? Have they been modified or affected in some way?
There are a host of various things that occur to you, which we in the legal world call damages, that go into factoring and determining what the value of your case is. Only once we as your attorneys have a full picture of what your damages are, we put a number on each one of those for each particular thing that’s happened to you in order to determine what we believe to be a reasonable value for your claim.
You need to have an attorney who is willing to spend the time and detail necessary digging into all of the information not only about what your injuries may be, but also how you live your life and how your life has been affected so that we can understand exactly what the full value of your claim is.
Do I Need to Give a Recorded Statement?
When it comes to the opposing party or anyone representing the opposing party, you need to seek a lawyer first. You should not speak to anyone that you believe may have harmed you or may represent someone who has harmed you because they are not looking out for your interests. Only your attorney can look out for your interest in the way that they need to be looked out for.
If you believe you have been contacted by an insurance company or even a doctor themselves because they think something has gone wrong and they’re trying to do something, you should be skeptical of what they’re trying to do. You should immediately contact an attorney.
How Long Does It Take to Settle?
We can’t tell you how long it will take to settle your case because there are a host of things that come into play. What is a defendant going to do? What is the insurance company going to do? What decision is the judge going to make? What decision is a jury going to make? We don’t know right away.
Life comes into play, and makes everything inherently unpredictable as to when a case will or will not resolve. What we do know is that our firm will handle your case as quickly and as efficiently as possible to try and get you a recovery as quickly as we can, so long as it is in your best interest. We are always concerned about doing what is in our clients’ best interest in order to maximize their recovery and to prosecute their case as efficiently as possible.
Sometimes things do take a while. Even at our office it takes us time to sufficiently prepare your claim to make it appropriate so that when it is brought, it has the highest chance for a settlement or it has the highest chance for mediation success or success at a trial.
Therefore, we can’t tell you exactly when your case is going to end. What we can tell you is that we will ensure that it’s handled as quickly and as appropriately as possible as is necessary under the circumstances to ensure your best interests are found.
What Mistakes Can I Avoid in a Medical Malpractice Case?
If you suspect or have reason to suspect that you’ve been injured through the negligence of a medical professional, it is imperative, because of short timelines in Florida, that you act quickly to contact an attorney.
If it’s proven down the road that you knew or should have known at a certain point in time that you had been injured by a doctor or a medical provider and you failed to act on that information, it is possible that your case could be dismissed for violating the statute of limitations, which is a time period that you have in which to bring a medical malpractice case. In Florida, that’s a very short time period.
The next common mistake is ignoring your injuries and not providing all the information that you may know about what’s happened to you to your attorney. If you have certain injuries, surgeries, or procedures, you need to ensure that when talking to your attorney for the first time, you tell them about all of that.
The third thing we commonly see happen more often than not is people will try and handle their case themselves. In medical malpractice cases, you’re usually going to hit a brick wall with that kind of thing because you won’t receive a response. There are very particular requirements in Florida that you have to follow before you can even bring a medical malpractice case. If one missed step is made in that process, then it’s likely that your case could be dismissed and you will never see your day in court.
Are Prescription Errors Medical Malpractice?
A doctor either giving you the wrong prescription or the incorrect amount could be liable. Also a pharmacist could potentially be liable for medical malpractice or medical negligence.
Whether or not it is a breach of the deviation or breach of the standard of care would depend on the specific circumstances under which it happened. You would still have to show that the doctor should have prescribed you a higher dose and didn’t. You still have to prove that the underlying case was negligence. Incorrect or the wrong amount of a prescription could be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Call Our Office Today for a Free Case Evaluation
If you have been injured due to the negligent care of a medical professional, please call our office today to set up a free consultation with our Florida medical malpractice attorney. We are more than happy to sit down with you and go over the details of your case. Our goal is to get you the best possible outcome and the fullest and fairest amount of compensation.