Florida Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Holding the Medical Community Accountable & Fighting for Victims’ Rights
You trust your medical team to provide quality medical care. From taking an accurate and complete history, ordering the proper diagnostic tests, making the correct diagnosis, and providing appropriate treatment, you expect your doctors to follow specific standards of care every step of the way.
Unfortunately, that is not always the case. It may be shocking to know how common medical errors and surgical mistakes happen. While medical malpractice is a widespread problem throughout our nation, Florida ranks third among all U.S. states for medical malpractice claim payouts, according to Leverage Rx, a liability insurance marketplace for doctors.
When a doctor, nurse, or other health care professional fails to meet the standard of care and makes a serious error due to negligence, the consequences can be devastating. Medical mistakes can permanently impact the lives of medical malpractice victims and their families.
Smith, Ball & Báez has secured millions of dollars for victims of medical malpractice. Our successful medical malpractice lawsuits and settlements include wrongful deaths, failure to diagnose, and more.
If you or a loved one has been harmed by the negligence of a doctor or hospital, contact our Florida medical malpractice attorneys today.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice is classified into various categories. Common categories include:
- Surgical errors, such as operating on the wrong body part or leaving an object inside of a patient;
- Anesthesia errors, including failure to monitor a patient or failure to administer the appropriate dosage of anesthesia;
- Failure to timely and appropriately diagnose a condition, such as bowel obstruction, serious infection, or cancer;
- Misdiagnosis of a medical condition such as a heart attack; or failing to read a radiological study appropriately;
- Misinterpreting lab results or making a diagnosis without performing all appropriate tests;
- Delayed diagnosis;
- Failure to get a second opinion or referral to a specialist;
- Medication errors, including administering the wrong medication or dosage;
- Birth injuries, such as shoulder dystocia or brain injuries.
Elements of Medical Malpractice Claims
Successful medical malpractice claims contain specific elements. First, your medical provider must legally owe you a duty of care. This is typically easy to prove when there is a doctor-patient relationship. Next, you must prove the health care provider breached the duty of care. A healthcare provider breaches the duty of care when that healthcare provider fails to give the same level of care that a healthcare provider in the same field/medical specialty and geographic area would have considered reasonable and appropriate under the circumstances. Next, you must also prove the causation element of the case. This involves proving, more likely than not, that the health care provider’s breach of the duty/negligence caused a significant injury or death. Finally, you must prove the damages or injuries sustained by the victim.
Proving that the breach was the direct and proximate cause of your injuries is the most challenging component of these types of cases. The opposing side typically argues that the patient had a pre-existing condition that was the true cause of the patient’s outcome. Alternatively, a common defense is the patient was somehow negligent by doing something inappropriate or by failing to follow the doctor’s advice.
Medical malpractice claims rely on expert witness testimony to prove the various elements of a case and to refute the Defendant’s defenses. This is why it is crucial to find a law firm with the knowledge and expertise to handle these types of cases.
Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims
The time limitation or statute of limitations on when you must bring a medical malpractice claim is different than other types of personal injury cases like car crashes and slip and falls. Also, the calculation of the time limitations can be very complicated.
Florida law states you have two years from when the malpractice “is discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence” to initiate the claim. There is a caveat, though. With very limited exceptions, the law does not permit claims to be brought more than “four years from the date of the incident or occurrence out of which the cause of action accrued.”
Sometimes, medical errors become apparent immediately. For example, if you go into the hospital to have your right knee operated on and wake up to discover the surgeon operated on your left knee instead, you become aware immediately of the medical malpractice. In that situation, you have two years from the date of the surgery to initiate the claim.
Sometimes, an issue isn’t discovered immediately. For example, assume that your physician left part of a sponge in your body. You may not have any symptoms for quite some time. The clock for the statute of limitations will begin ticking once you discover the surgical error.
If you notice the error after four years have passed, your claim will be dismissed unless you meet very limited criteria or exceptions. If you are able to prove intentional concealment or fraud, there may be an extension. Also, in the cases of birth injuries, parents can often bring claims until the child’s 8th birthday.
Because the statute of limitations in these types of cases can be complicated, it is crucial to consult an experienced medical malpractice attorney right away if you or a loved one believes you may be a victim of medical malpractice.
Our attorneys have successfully handled a variety of medical malpractice cases over the past 25 years including:
- Failure to diagnose an epidural abscess resulting in paralysis;
- Failure to appropriately treat postoperative ileus resulting in aspiration pneumonia and permanent lung damage;
- Failure to diagnose cauda equina syndrome;
- Failure to timely diagnose lung cancer;
- Failure to timely diagnose an aortic dissection leading to the death of a mother of four;
- Negligent administration of postoperative pain medications resulting in the death of a 5-year-old;
Are There Damage Caps in Florida?
Florida does not have a damage cap in place for economic damages. That means you can collect the full amount of economic losses you have sustained. You can also collect damages for future lost wages and medical care you are reasonably certain to incur in the future.
The Florida legislature did enact a statute, Florida Section 766.118(2) which imposed certain caps for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. However, in 2014, the Florida Supreme Court held in the case of Estate of McCall vs. United States, 134 So.3d 894 (Fla 2014) that the caps on non-economic damages in a wrongful death med mal case were unconstitutional.
However, there can be caps on damages in medical malpractice cases in other instances. Claims against doctors or hospitals that are employees of the County or State may be limited by sovereign immunity. Also, Florida Statutes allow for alternative dispute resolutions including voluntary binding arbitration which limits recoveries of non-economic damages.
Having an experienced medical malpractice lawyer in Florida on your side is critical in making sure you and your loved ones are fully compensated for your injuries and losses. Call our firm at (561) 500-HELP today to learn more.
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