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What Constitutes Medical Malpractice In Florida

on  Medical Malpractice

Imagine placing your health, your very life, in the hands of a doctor, expecting skillful care, only to suffer an injury that can alter the course of your entire life. Unfortunately, this is a reality for thousands of patients yearly in Florida. 

According to the Florida Department of Health, 1,727 patients filed medical malpractice claims in one recent year. This represents just a fraction of patients who suffered an injury but never pursued justice. 

While not every poor outcome results from medical malpractice, many do. Patients and their families have a right to transparency after a medical error and deserve justice. An experienced Florida medical malpractice attorney can help you find the answers you need and obtain the compensation you deserve. 

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional, such as a doctor, nurse, or other medical staff member, deviates from the standards of their profession, leading to harm, injury, or death to a patient. This isn’t just a small lapse; it’s a profound failure that can leave emotional and physical scars.

Not all mistakes constitute medical malpractice. When they do, however, the consequences for the patient and the healthcare provider can be profound.

Some of the most common medical malpractice claims in Florida include:

Do I Have a Medical Malpractice Case?

We hear it all the time. Someone suffers an injury in a hospital or clinic, but they aren’t sure if they have a case. Sometimes, they don’t even want to contact an attorney because they don’t want to damage the relationship or their doctor’s reputation. After all, many patients like their doctors and have ongoing relationships that sometimes span decades. 

Our best advice: just call us! Our law firm offers free consultations, and we’re never too busy to talk with you about your experience. Tell us your story, and we’ll listen and help you explore all your legal options. If you don’t have a medical malpractice case, our attorneys will be honest and upfront about that. 

You risk nothing by calling our medical malpractice law firm and discussing your case. We want to help you get through this ordeal as quickly as possible. Sometimes, that’s filing a medical malpractice claim. But there may be more options available to you. 

How Do You Prove Medical Malpractice?

As the injured patient, you and your legal team must establish several critical elements before you can file a lawsuit. That’s because the burden of proof lies with you, the plaintiff.

  1. Owed you a Duty of Care. Firstly, you must demonstrate that a relationship exists between you and the healthcare provider. If they were your doctor or medical provider – this relationship is established. 
  2. Breached this Standard of Care. Secondly, you’re tasked with showing that the healthcare provider breached the standard of care. This is not about a simple mistake or an unfortunate outcome. It’s about proving that the professional failed to act competently and skillfully as their peers would have under similar circumstances.
  3. Causation. You must prove that this breach caused your harm and injuries. 
  4. You Suffered Damages. It isn’t enough that the doctor made a mistake. You must’ve suffered actual damages before you can file a lawsuit. Perhaps their mistake caused you to spend another week in the hospital, or you suffered a complication that made returning to work difficult.

What is the Standard of Care?

The law in Florida demands that medical practitioners adhere to the recognized “standard of care.” This term describes the level and type of care a reasonably competent and skilled healthcare professional with a similar background and in the same medical community would have provided under the same circumstances.

When this standard of care is not met, the consequences can be devastating. From a misdiagnosis that robs a person of vital treatment time to a surgical error that inflicts unnecessary pain, the effects can affect not just the individual but also their loved ones. Families can face mounting bills, lost income, and the heart-wrenching pain of seeing a loved one suffer.

Who Is To Blame For Medical Malpractice?

Most people think about doctors when they consider medical malpractice. But, the reality is that any healthcare provider can be liable for malpractice. This includes practitioners from nurses to physical therapists, and even the institutions they represent, like hospitals and outpatient clinics, can potentially be held responsible for malpractice.

Hospitals, for instance, can be liable for their own distinct forms of negligence. This could manifest in inadequate staffing, where a shortage of nurses might lead to critical delays in care or oversight. It could appear as administrative failures, where systemic lapses result in harmful mistakes such as incorrect patient information or improper surgical preparations.

The liability of medical facilities also extends to ensuring their staff is competent and adequately supervised. They are responsible for verifying credentials, providing ongoing education, and monitoring the performance of the healthcare professionals they employ. Additionally, these institutions are charged with maintaining a safe and functional environment that meets the regulatory standards necessary for patient care.

It’s important to recognize that a network of individuals and systems must function correctly to ensure safety and health behind every procedure, prescription, and medical intervention. When any part of this system fails, causing harm or injury, it falls under medical malpractice.

Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Florida

In Florida, victims of such medical negligence have the right to seek justice and compensation by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, this process is complicated and not easy to navigate without the help of an experienced medical malpractice attorney. 

Florida has specific requirements to meet before a malpractice lawsuit can be initiated. These include conducting a pre-suit investigation to corroborate the malpractice claim and serving a notice of intent to sue on the potential defendants, allowing them to settle the claim before a lawsuit is filed.

Your legal team must gather a preponderance of evidence. This often means a meticulous review of medical records, securing expert testimony from medical professionals who can speak to the missteps and the might-have-beens, and constructing a compelling case that can withstand the rigors of the legal system.

In Florida, the journey begins with a pre-suit investigation, a statutory prerequisite to ensure that claims are backed by substantial evidence. You must obtain a verified written medical expert opinion that supports the claim of negligence before you can proceed.

Furthermore, Florida imposes strict time constraints, known as statutes of limitations, which typically require that a lawsuit be filed within two years of the incident or from when the injury was or should have been discovered. There are exceptions to this deadline, however. So, even if you worry you’ve missed your deadline, talk to an experienced lawyer immediately. You may have more time than you think.

How Can a Medical Expert Witness Lend Credibility to Your Case?

In Florida, medical experts provide essential testimony and specialized knowledge crucial for establishing whether the standard of care was breached. This is a core component in proving medical malpractice. 

The expert witness should specialize in the same field as the healthcare provider accused of malpractice. This ensures that the testimony is grounded in relevant professional expertise. Additionally, the expert must have devoted a significant portion of their recent professional time to clinical practice or instruction in the area they are testifying about. In addition, the medical expert witness cannot be a colleague of the doctor being sued. 

Florida laws are strict about who can be a medical expert witness. This is because the testimony of a medical expert witness can significantly impact the outcome of a medical malpractice case. It can help the jury or judge understand complex medical issues and make informed decisions about the liability and damages.

Your Florida medical malpractice attorney will find the medical experts you need to build your case after medical malpractice occurs. 

What Is the Time Limit For Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim in Florida?

In Florida, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is generally two years from the date the injury was or should have been discovered. There are exceptions to this rule, particularly in cases involving minors or fraud, so it’s important to consult with a medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to determine the specific time limits applicable to your case.

Contact Our Florida Medical Malpractice Lawyers

The emotional toll on survivors and their families pursuing a medical malpractice claim can be immense. The legal journey is often long and exhausting, requiring relentless determination to hold the responsible parties accountable and obtain justice.

At Prosper Shaked Accident Injury Attorneys, PA, our Florida medical malpractice lawyers can help you hold negligent medical providers and institutions accountable for the harm you suffered. 

Let Prosper Shaked help you through this difficult time. Call us for a FREE consultation and review of your case at 305-694-2676 or fill out our confidential contact form. We fight for the rights of medical malpractice victims. Call us today!