When an individual suffers serious harm due to the carelessness or negligence of a nurse, doctor, or another medical professional, the best course of action is to contact a reputable medical malpractice lawyer. For a person who doesn’t fully understand medical malpractice, navigating the legal system can be daunting.
The state of Florida has recently changed its medical malpractice laws, making it more difficult for victims to seek compensation. For this reason, attempting to take the big malpractice insurance companies on without legal representation may result in the court throwing the case out based on a technicality.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice may be committed in a number of ways. However, it is essential to understand that every doctor or nurse who makes a mistake is not necessarily guilty of malpractice. To meet the legal standard for malpractice, an individual must establish that the medical professional breached the standard of care.
What Is Involved in Filing a Malpractice Claim?
Filing a legal case for medical malpractice can be a complicated process, and the following elements must be met for anyone to achieve success in a claim against a medical professional.
- The standard of care must be breached. An individual who aims to file a malpractice claim must provide evidence that the medical provider breached the standard of care they owe to their patients. In Florida, this means that the individual must have a medical expert who will provide a sworn affidavit for them. This expert must practice in the same field as the one who breached the standard of care. The court will dismiss the case if there is no affidavit.
- Proximate causation. The second element that must be met is to prove causation. To prove malpractice, the patient must prove that the “proximate cause” of their injury was a result of the doctor’s breach. This means that the individual must have evidence that their injuries would not have occurred if it weren’t for the doctor’s negligence.
- Damages. Embarking on a medical malpractice claim is an expensive pursuit. For this reason, the patient must have suffered significant harm to make a claim viable. The injuries the individual suffered must have resulted in extensive pain and suffering, missed time from work, and costly medical expenses.
Who Can File a Medical Malpractice Claim?
If you believe you or someone you loved has been the victim of medical malpractice, speak to one of our attorneys. Some of the primary ways medical malpractice occurs are:
- Delayed diagnosis and misdiagnosis. Typically, a person expects an accurate diagnosis after their examination when they see a doctor, but that doesn’t always happen. If a doctor fails to properly diagnose a patient’s illness, it can be detrimental to their health, especially when the individual has a condition that may be life-threatening.Some of the more common conditions that are not properly diagnosed include ovarian, lung, and breast cancer. Other conditions such as ectopic pregnancies, appendicitis, and brain tumors are also frequently misdiagnosed.For a patient to file a malpractice claim for delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis, they must prove that the medical professional was negligent. They will need to provide evidence that the condition was noticeable and that another doctor in a similar situation would have correctly diagnosed the problem after reviewing their records. Additionally, the patient cannot pursue their claim unless the condition has progressed to a worsened state. Often, this means that a tumor or cancer has spread or grown.
- Preventable injuries that occur in hospitals. When a patient is admitted to a hospital, the facility has a duty to ensure their safety and provide sufficient care. For this reason, it is essential that they thoroughly vet any prospective employees and evaluate their level of education, relevant certifications, and prior experience working in hospitals.If a hospital makes the mistake of hiring a nurse, doctor, or any other staff member who is incompetent, the hospital may be held responsible for any harm a patient suffers due to that employee’s negligence. For instance, if a doctor performs a procedure on the wrong body part, administers the wrong medication, or doesn’t treat a patient in a timely manner due to an inaccurate diagnosis and causes the condition to become significantly worse, the hospital may be guilty of medical malpractice.
- Improperly administered anesthesia. Patients are typically given anesthesia to put them to sleep when they undergo surgery. At times, though, anesthesia is not administered correctly, and a condition called anesthesia awareness occurs. This occurrence can be terrifying, as the patient actually wakes up during the surgery and can feel the surgeon making incisions and performing the procedure. Since this can cause severe trauma for the patient, it is grounds for malpractice. The surgeon and their assisting staff are required to ensure that a patient is unconscious when they undergo an invasive procedure.
What Damages Can a Patient Sue For?
Once a medical expert has signed the affidavit necessary for the malpractice claim and the individual has gathered the necessary evidence to prove proximate cause, they can seek compensation. Florida has a cap on the amount that can be obtained, including a limit of $500,000 for non-economic damages. Non-economic damages include intangible harm such as inconvenience, pain, and suffering. A patient can also seek economic damages for costs such as lost wages and medical bills.
Is There a Statute of Limitations?
It is essential for an individual to discuss their medical malpractice claim with a legal professional as soon as they can, as there is a two-year statute of limitations. This means that a person has two years from the date their injury occurred or when they can reasonably determine they were injured to file a negligence claim against a medical professional. If the individual fails to file their claim within that time, they may never be able to pursue compensation for their injuries.
Call the Attorneys You Can Trust
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries due to the negligence of a doctor, nurse, or another medical provider, you don’t want to handle your claim on your own. The legal team at Cronin & Maxwell, PL has the knowledge and experience to pursue your compensation effectively while you focus on your recovery. Reach out to us today to see how we can help.