Medical malpractice is a complicated area of personal injury law. At the law offices of Lisa Levine, we encounter many clients who are unfamiliar with what exactly medical malpractice is, as well as their legal options after they’ve been injured due to a medical error caused by a doctor’s negligence.
We all need medical care at some point in our lives, whether for everyday illnesses like a cold or the flu, or serious conditions that require long-term treatments and therapies. Unfortunately, medical errors are more common than many of us would think. Although we hope you’ll never be a victim of this type of negligence, understanding medical malpractice and your legal rights is helpful information for everyone to have.
As such, we’ve put together a list of 12 things we feel everyone should know about medical malpractice:
1. What Is Medical Malpractice in Florida?
Not all medical treatments are effective, nor are all procedures successful. Simply being unsatisfied with the outcome of a treatment or procedure is usually not grounds for a Florida medical malpractice lawsuit.
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or other medical professional makes a mistake that injures the patient. However, a doctor making a mistake does not always translate to a successful medical malpractice lawsuit.
If a doctor prescribes the wrong medication to a patient and the patient suffers no harm as a result, this mistake probably doesn’t rise to the level of medical malpractice. That being said, doctors and other healthcare professionals are legally obligated to provide their patients with a certain standard of care. When they fail to do so by making a mistake they shouldn’t have made — say like operating on the wrong body part — and their patient is harmed as a result and suffers damages, this mistake is considered negligence and may be grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit.
2. When Can Medical Malpractice Happen?
In Florida, medical malpractice can occur at any stage of the health care process — during check in, during an examination, during a treatment or surgical procedure, or after an illness is treated or a procedure is performed.
3. How Often Do Medical Errors Occur?
Medical errors are one of the leading causes of death and injury in the U.S. According to a recent study by John Hopkins, more than 250,000 people die of medical errors each year. It’s estimated that 1 out of every 3 patients will experience a medical error during their hospital stay.
4. What Are Some Of The Common Types Of Medical Malpractice?
Common types of Florida medical malpractice include:
- Failure to diagnose
- Delay in diagnosis
- Failure to get informed consent
- Failure to treat
- Prescription drug errors
- Defective medical devices
- Surgical errors
- Anesthesia mistakes
- Prenatal and birth injuries
- Nursing home neglect
5. How Long Do You Have To File A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Florida?
You generally have two years from the date your injury occurred or was diagnosed in which to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in Florida.
6. How Do You Prove Medical Malpractice in Florida?
In a Florida medical malpractice lawsuit, the plaintiff has the burden of proof. In order to prevail, the plaintiff must show that:
- A patient/doctor relationship existed;
- The doctor was negligent in the level of care they provided;
- This negligence was responsible for the patient’s injuries; and
- The patient has suffered damages as a result of these injuries.
Read more about proving a malpractice claim in Florida.
7. When Should You Speak to a Florida Medical Malpractice Attorney?
You should seek out qualified legal representation as soon as you become aware that your condition may have been caused or made worse due to medical negligence. In most cases, the sooner an attorney gets to work on a case, the better the chances of a favorable outcome.
Most personal injury attorneys do not handle medical malpractice claims because they are incredibly complex and costly cases to pursue. It’s important to look for an attorney whose practice focuses mainly on this area of law because they are more likely to have the skills and resources needed to fight for you.
8. How is a Florida Medical Malpractice Attorney Paid?
Most Florida Medical Malpractice lawyers work on a contingency basis, which means that they offer their services in exchange for a percentage of the settlement amount plus expenses.
Medical malpractice cases involve a significant amount of cost to pursue, including paying for expert testimony from medical and economic specialists, travel, depositions, medical records, and more.
These high costs must be considered when deciding whether to pursue a claim. In some cases, it simply does not make economical sense for a patient to file a lawsuit, even if a doctor was negligent in their care. Read more about the cost of pursuing a medical malpractice case.
9. How Much Money Can You Expect to Recover From a Florida Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
Each Florida medical malpractice case is different. The possible compensation amount is decided by a number of factors, such as previous and ongoing medical expenses, lost income, pain and suffering and the quality of your legal representation.
10. Who Can Be Named in a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
In some cases, medical malpractice claims involve only one doctor. Often though, there are other parties that can be held liable.
For example, when a doctor working at a hospital commits medical malpractice, the hospital may be held vicariously liable because they hired the doctor and made money from the services the doctor provided.
It’s important to note that the more parties involved in a medical malpractice lawsuit, the higher the cost of litigation as well.
11. How Long Does a Florida Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Take to Be Resolved?
Don’t expect a quick resolution to your case. The responsible medical professional, their employer and their insurance company are going to use every strategy they can to get out of paying any compensation for a patient who is alleging medical malpractice. This often makes a medical malpractice lawsuit a long, drawn out process. Depending on the circumstances, it may take only months to settle, but usually it takes years to conclude a Florida medical malpractice case.
12. Where Can You Find an Experienced Florida Medical Malpractice Attorney?
Lisa Levine is a Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice attorney who handles medical negligence cases throughout Florida and nationwide. Her considerable legal knowledge and skills have helped numerous clients obtain the settlements they deserve after being injured due to medical malpractice. If you’ve been injured due to error or negligence on the part of a doctor or other healthcare professional, contact the law offices of Lisa Levine today to schedule a free consultation.