Going to the doctor is supposed to be the solution to many health issues. However, health professionals are not perfect. In fact, a majority of doctors will actually face a medical malpractice lawsuit at some point throughout their careers.
If you have been injured by a doctor, nurse, or some other health professional in Florida, you should speak with an experienced Florida medical malpractice attorney. Recent Florida Supreme Court decisions have made it easier for victims to get the compensation they deserve, but you’ll still need a good attorney to help you take on the big malpractice insurance lawyers.
What is Medical Malpractice?
The definition of medical malpractice varies. It is crucial to remember that a mistake by a medical professional does not necessarily amount to malpractice. In Florida, the plaintiff in a medical malpractice case must establish that the professional failed to provide the proper care.
Common Forms of Medical Malpractice
There are several common medical malpractice situations. Here is a list of the most encountered Florida medical malpractice areas:
Improper Anesthesia Administration
Anyone undergoing surgery is likely to receive anesthesia, which makes you unconscious while the doctor performs the surgery. One of the most severe forms of medical malpractice is negligent administration of anesthesia. A surgeon and their staff have an obligation to ensure that the patient is unconscious during an invasive procedure.
If they fail to anesthetize properly, a patient could experience anesthesia awareness. This is a situation where the patient remains awake during surgery and can feel the procedure while it is happening. It can be a painful and traumatizing experience for the victim.
Misdiagnosis or Delays with Diagnosis
When visiting a doctor, there is an expectation that you will receive a competent evaluation and proper diagnosis. However, that is not always the case. A doctor’s failure to diagnose a disease, illness, or another issue can be devastating to a patient’s health, especially when the misdiagnosis involves a life-threatening condition.
Breast cancer, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, brain tumors, appendicitis, and ectopic pregnancies are among the most commonly misdiagnosed conditions. If a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis has impacted you or a loved one, the burden of proof rests on you.
That means you must provide evidence that the condition was actually noticeable at a previous date, and a reasonable doctor would have spotted the disease, illness, or conditions after a thorough review of the records. Furthermore, in these cases, the condition has to have worsened as a result of the misdiagnosis.
Other Preventable Injuries
The hospital has to ensure every patient’s safety and care while at their facility. Every hospital employee should be evaluated for competency. This includes a proper examination of their prior experience, relevant certifications, and education level.
Suppose the hospital hires an incompetent doctor, nurse, staff member, or contractor, for example. In that case, that hospital could be held responsible for any harm inflicted on a patient due to their employee’s negligence.
What Are the Elements of a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in the state of Florida presents challenges. As the victim, you have the burden of establishing the following elements to bring a successful malpractice claim:
Breach of Standard of Care
You must show that your healthcare professional breached the applicable standard of care. Florida’s Malpractice Act requires victims to find medical experts to produce an affidavit that there was a breach of the standard of care. That affidavit is required to file a claim.
A victim must also prove causation to establish a breach of the standard of care. That means that you must prove that it was the doctor’s breach that “caused” your injuries. In other words, you and your medical malpractice attorney must present evidence you would not have been injured but for the medical professional’s conduct.
You must be able to prove you experienced damages, usually financial and/or losses, to have a successful claim. The cost of filing and litigating a malpractice claim is high, so your injury must have resulted in substantial medical expenses, lost wages, and caused pain and suffering.
Average Florida Medical Malpractice Damage Awards
If you meet the burdens of proof outlined above, a victim of medical malpractice can pursue limited compensatory damages.
Typically, medical malpractice victims may pursue two types of damages – economic damages and non-economic damages. Economic damages include the medical bills and your lost wages. Non-economic damages include the pain, suffering, and inconvenience that the injury cost you.
Florida limits the amount of damages obtained from a malpractice suit to $500,000 on non-economic damages when a lawsuit is filed against a medical practitioner.
Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Claims in Florida
Victims of medical malpractice must not delay hiring an attorney to discuss their legal options. The statute of limitations limits the time period within which a person can file a lawsuit.
Medical malpractice claims in Florida have a two-year statute of limitations. The statute of limitations starts on the date of your injury or the date when you actually (or should have) determined that you were injured.