MEDICAL MALPRACTICE

Medical malpractice cases are a unique subset of personal injury and wrongful death cases.  In Florida, the legislature has promulgated special laws which are only applicable to claims against healthcare providers.  Specifically, Chapter 766 of the Florida Statutes provides strict guidelines for the evaluation and pursuit of medical malpractice claims.  As such, the pursuit of even the most basic of medical negligence cases requires strict adherence to a complex set of rules.  Some of the most often asked questions about medical malpractice cases include the following:

HOW LONG DO I HAVE TO FILE A MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CLAIM?

Florida Statute §95.11 (4)(b) requires that an action for medical malpractice be commenced  within two (2) years from the time the incident is discovered, or should have been discovered  with the exercise of due diligence.  This deadline is known as the “statute of limitations.”    Notwithstanding the existence of the statute oflimitations, in no event shall an action for      medical malpractice be commenced later than four (4) years from the date of the incident of malpractice.  This deadline is known as the “statute of repose.”  In very rare cases, such a fraud committed by the healthcare provider to prevent the discovery of the malpractice, the filing deadline could be extended as long seven (7) years from the date of the incident.

CAN I FILE A MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CLAIM ON BEHALF OF SOMEONE WHO DIED?

 Yes, but such claims can only be brought by the court appointed Personal Representative of  the decedent’s estate. Also, these types of claims are subject to both Florida’s medical  malpractice laws and the Florida Wrongful Death Act.  Also, death claims arising from  medical negligence must be commenced within two (2) years of the decedent’s death, as the  four (4) statute of repose does not apply.

ARE MEDICAL MALPRACTICE CASES MORE DIFFICULT TO WIN THAN PERSONAL INJURY CASES?

 Not necessarily, as the burden of proof in a medical malpractice case is the same as a  personal injury case.  However, medical malpractice cases are more difficult to pursue than  most personal injury cases because of the special legal requirements associated with bringing  a medical malpractice lawsuit.  For instance, prior to filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in  Florida, the Claimant must conduct a statutorily mandated “presuit” investigation and obtain  an affidavit from an appropriate medical expert corroborating the allegation of negligence.    Also, in order to prevail in medical malpractice lawsuit, the Claimant will need to present expert medical testimony at trial that the defendant physician deviated from the recognized medical standard of care, and, in fact, caused injury as a result of the alleged deviation.  While most personal injury lawyers will advertise for medical malpractice cases, many injury lawyers do not pursue medical cases due to the complex nature of such claims.

ARE THERE LIMITATIONS ON HOW MUCH I CAN RECOVER?

 Presently, there are several laws in place which limit the amount of non-economic damages  recoverable in a case involving a claim for medical negligence.  Click here for a summary of  the current damages caps for medical malpractice claims in Florida.  Please note Florida’s cap  on non-economic damages is presently under judicial review by the Florida Supreme Court  and is subject to change at any time.

CAN I SUE THE STATE OF FLORIDA FOR MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE?

 Pursuant to Florida Statute §768.28, any agency or subdivision of the State of Florida is  entitled to limited sovereign immunity.  This would include public hospitals and state run  clinics, and their employees.  Florida Statute §768.28 caps any recovery against an entity  entitled to sovereign immunity to a total of $200,000 for an individual claimant, and up to  $300,000 total, unless the Florida legislature considers and passes a special law granting a  higher amount for the specific case.  Recently, a revision to the law expanded sovereign immunity to private university based physicians who provide treatment to patients at public hospitals.

WHAT SHOULD I DO IF I SUSPECT A HEALTHCARE PROVIDER COMMITTED MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE ON ME OR SOMEONE I CARE ABOUT?

If you or someone you know has been the victim of medical negligence, you should not delay in seeking competent legal advice from an attorney experienced in the field of medical malpractice.  Mark A. Glassman, Esq., has over 20 years of experience in handling medical malpractice cases in Florida, and throughout the United States.  Further, the firm has access to a network of experts in virtually every medical specialty to ensure the timely and appropriate review of your potential medical malpractice case.  Please contact Mr. Glassman toll free by phone (844-USA-LAWS) or by e-mail (Mark@USALawsuits.com) to discuss your potential case.