If you have suffered an adverse result from medical treatment, you may be considering whether you should speak with a medical malpractice lawyer in Florida. This task can be overwhelming, especially if you or a loved one were injured due to a medical provider’s mistakes. While there are many competent lawyers that may be able to handle your case, you should know how to find the best medical malpractice lawyer for your type of case. It really can mean the difference between recovering compensation for your injuries and being “no caused” at trial.
How to Search for a Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Florida
There are several ways to search for a medical malpractice lawyer who could handle your claim. While some of these ways are better than others, some ways should be completely avoided. Here is a list of the best ways to and not to search for a medical malpractice lawyer:
DO Look at Your Local Bar Association’s Website
Nearly every county has a bar association that lists lawyers who can handle a variety of different types of cases, including medical malpractice. Searching here is a great place to start because bar associations require members to be licensed to practice law (not suspended or facing disciplinary charges). However, it is important to realize that a bar association will not vet lawyers for you and will only list them. Thus, anyone with a license could potentially claim to handle any type of case.
DON’T Use 411 PAIN or Another Attorney Referral Service
Attorney referral services like 411 PAIN are not run by lawyers but by doctors looking to book injured clients in chiropractic or pain clinics owned by them. Victims of a negligent accident or medical mistake are often farmed out to lawyers who pay to be listed on these referral services—not lawyers who have been found competent in the field of medical malpractice.
DO use Super Lawyers (R) and Look for Medical Malpractice Lawyers with Reviews
While Super Lawyers (R) is an attorney referral service where lawyers can pay to get a better profile, lawyers cannot pay to win an award. Super Lawyers (R) is an organization that vets lawyers through 12 factors, scoring potential award-winners on an intense rubric. Candidates cannot be self-nominated, and there are mechanisms in place to prevent “gaming” the system. After scoring, local top-rated lawyers review other candidates and either confirm or reject. Being awarded a Super Lawyer (R) award in any practice area is an achievement. On the lawyer’s profile, confirm that the lawyer specifically lists “medical malpractice: plaintiff” as a practice area. If not, do not hire that lawyer. Our lawyer Prosper Shaked has received Super Lawyers (R) awards several years in a row and has medical malpractice listed as the second-highest area of practice.
DON’T pay a lawyer for a case evaluation or review before you hire them
When you are meeting with a medical malpractice lawyer—or really any personal injury lawyer—if you have to pay for a case evaluation or review—stay away! A competent, experienced, and successful personal injury lawyer will never make a client pay for a case evaluation—that is always a law firm expense.
DO Search on Google and Use Google Reviews
It is notoriously difficult to cheat Google’s review algorithm. However, fake online reviews are a real problem. If you see a lawyer’s profile on Google with more than 20 reviews and a rating above 4.7 stars, that is a a good sign. Read the reviews and see what others are saying about the lawyer. Make sure that the reviews are legitimate and don’t include a bunch of fake reviews written by the law firm’s employees, family and friends. You want to read honest client testimonials discussing their particular experience with the lawyer or law firm.
What is Medical Malpractice in the First Place?
Medical malpractice is a type of personal injury cause of action (or claim) premised on negligence. A claim for negligence is where a party fails to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances as a reasonably prudent person would have in similar circumstances. Thus, a medical malpractice case is where a defendant-medical provider fails to exercise reasonable care under the circumstances that a reasonably prudent medical provider would have in similar circumstances. This is known as the prevailing standard of care that has been articulated by the common law, or judge-made law.
This standard of care from the common law has long been applied throughout the United States, even dating back from time under British rule. The standard is very flexible because, while the law does not necessarily change much, the standard allows for advancements in medicine to take place without having to re-write the law because it is all based on “reasonableness.”
Notwithstanding this flexibility, the Florida Legislature has gone ahead and codified the standard of care in statutory law, or legislatively-made law that proceeds through the formal bill-making process. Under Florida Law section 766.102 (1), “[t]he prevailing professional standard of care for a given health care provider shall be that 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.”
Proving a Medical Malpractice Case in Florida
In order to prove a medical malpractice case in Florida, a victim (called a plaintiff in a lawsuit) must prove that the defendant-medical provider breached the prevailing standard of care. This could also be called a deviation from the standard of care.
However, unlike a car accident where we can blame a motorist for running a red light and violating the law, in order to prove that a defendant-medical provider breached the standard of care, a plaintiff must establish what the standard of care is in the first place. This requires expert testimony.
But not just any expert testimony, but an expert in the general locality, in the same specialty (i.e., an anesthesiologist for a defendant-anesthesiologist, a nurse for a defendant-nurse), and considering the relevant circumstances around the care (i.e., medical emergency, elective surgery, or routine care).
It is difficult for a lawyer to get the right type of expert to prove the deviation from the prevailing standard of care. Once that is proven, a lawyer still needs to understand the medication well enough to establish damages (the deviation caused the plaintiff harm) and causation (the damages were caused by the deviation). If a lawyer cannot do that, it results in a “no cause” or a decision by a trier of fact (judge or jury) that the plaintiff cannot establish one of the elements.
The failure to meet any of these criteria could result in the dismissal of your case. This is why it is important to find the best medical malpractice lawyer in Florida for your claim.
Call for a Free Consultation with Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys
We have helped many families recover the compensation they deserve after reckless, careless, or negligent medical care harmed a loved one. We are dedicated to our clients and pursuing justice under the law. Learn how we can help represent you and your family during a FREE consultation by dialing (305) 694-2676.