Everyone deserves to receive the best quality medical care. If you’ve been injured by a negligent doctor in Florida, a skilled personal injury lawyer can help you seek justice for your losses. Read on to learn about ten essential things you should know about medical malpractice cases.
What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?
Patients can sometimes experience adverse health outcomes without it qualifying as medical malpractice. For an act to be considered medical malpractice in Florida, it needs to meet three criteria:
- A professional relationship between the medical professional and the injured patient must exist.
- The healthcare provider’s actions must fall below the prevailing professional standard of care.
- The negligent actions must have caused direct harm to the patient, which resulted in losses.
How is Medical Negligence Determined?
To determine whether the health care provider acted negligently or was making a good faith effort to help the patient, the court must consider whether their choices met the “prevailing professional standard of care.” This is further defined in Florida statutes as “the 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.”
Certain care providers may be given more leeway. For example, a paramedic making split-second decisions would be judged differently than a family doctor seeing a patient. Other medical professionals are usually called upon during trials to give their opinion on their colleagues’ actions.
Who Commits Medical Malpractice?
Doctors are the first individuals who come to mind when most people think of medical malpractice. However, many types of medical professionals can be negligent in their care, including, but not limited to:
- Ophthalmologists (eye doctors)
What Are Common Examples of Medical Malpractice?
There are many specific varieties of medical malpractice, but most cases tend to fall into one of four categories:
Incorrect treatment: A doctor may be negligent if a different treatment or the same treatment applied competently could have helped the patient.
Medication errors: Medications can be dangerous or deadly if improperly prescribed or administered.
Failure to diagnose: If a proper diagnosis would have led to a better outcome, the doctor could be liable.
Failure to inform of known risks: Doctors must provide patients with enough information to make an informed choice to consent to treatment.
What is the Statute of Limitations on Florida Medical Malpractice Claims?
Typically, cases involving negligence have a two-year filing limit under Florida law. If you were aware of the malpractice right away, you generally have two years from the date of the malpractice to file your claim. However, not every medical malpractice injury is immediately discoverable. If the damage was not discoverable at the time of the incident, you have two years from the date of the discovery up to a maximum of four years from the malpractice to file.
The filing rules can quickly become confusing, and every medical malpractice case is unique. You should always discuss your claim with a knowledgeable personal injury lawyer if you are uncertain whether it falls within the statute of limitations.
Do You Have More Time to File if the Malpractice Was Hidden From You?
If the medical malpractice was concealed from you or involved fraud, you have two years from the date of the discovery to file a claim in Florida. However, less than seven years from the date of the malpractice must have elapsed for the case to be valid. Unfortunately, past the seven-year limit, you will likely be unable to bring a claim, no matter the circumstances.
Does the Statute of Limitations Change if the Victim Was a Minor?
Cases involving minors have their own guidelines and time limits. As such, they must be considered on a case-by-case basis. If you suspect your child was harmed by medical malpractice, contact a trusted personal injury lawyer immediately to learn more about your legal rights and options.
Are There Special Rules for Filing Medical Malpractice Claims?
Florida law requires victims to file a notice of intent with the healthcare provider 60 days before filing the case in court. This notice informs the medical professional that they will be sued and gives them a chance to settle out of court.
As part of this notice, you must provide an affidavit of merit from another medical professional which confirms that you have a valid medical malpractice case.
What Damages Can You Seek?
Medical malpractice can be incredibly harmful to victims and their families. Through a lawsuit, victims may recover damages for their losses, including:
- Medical expenses resulting from fixing the mistake
- Ongoing medical care
- Lost wages during recovery time
- Loss of future earning capacity if they are permanently disabled
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
If your loved one tragically died due to malpractice, a Florida wrongful death lawyer can help you file a claim to recover damages such as funeral and burial expenses, loss of companionship, and more.
Why is It Important to Speak to a Medical Malpractice Attorney?
Due to the complex rules surrounding medical malpractice cases, it can be easy for victims to inadvertently harm their claim. To protect your legal rights and ensure that your case is handled correctly, contact an experienced Florida medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible after you suspect an injury.