For every 100,000 residents in Florida, around 16 will file a medical malpractice case in the coming year. Medical malpractice can cause devastating injuries or even loss of life. If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical negligence in the Sunshine State, you need a Florida medical malpractice lawyer.
At Menendez Trial Attorneys, our legal experts have more than ninety years of combined experience representing victims and their families. We can help you find justice and receive the compensation you deserve. For a free consultation, call today at (305) 445-6500 to discuss your case with a medical malpractice lawyer.
Common Causes of Medical Malpractice
In the medical profession, providers have a duty of care to their patients to act in their best interest. This means that patients have certain rights in the doctor-patient relationship.
You expect that your medical provider will provide you with an acceptable level of care. If your provider fails to provide you with the same level of care any other doctor would have provided, they haven’t met the duty of care.
Failure to meet the duty of care can take many forms. If the doctor’s failure causes harm to the patient, the patient has the right to file a medical malpractice case.
Medical malpractice generally falls into one of five categories. In each case, the plaintiff carries the burden of proving that someone failed in their duty of care. The five common causes of medical malpractice claims are:
Misdiagnosis or Failure To Diagnose
A wrong or missing diagnosis can put a patient’s life at risk. Every year, millions of outpatients get an incorrect diagnosis or no diagnosis at all. This means they may not get appropriate treatment, or could even receive the wrong treatment or medication.
A misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose can lead to personal injury, disability, or death. If a doctor doesn’t perform diagnostics correctly, they might discharge a patient incorrectly. The patient leaves thinking nothing is wrong, and only realizes they had a missed diagnosis after they suffer a severe health event.
Any individual in the treatment chain can cause a medication error. Failure to take a patient’s history can mean missing important information about allergies. Failing to check a patient’s chart can lead to a dangerous drug interaction.
A doctor can make a mistake when writing a prescription, either by prescribing the wrong drug or the wrong dosage. A medical professional can incorrectly administer the medication, administer the wrong medication, or give too much or too little. A pharmacist can fill a prescription incorrectly, providing the wrong drug, dose, or instructions.
Surgical errors are some of the scariest forms of medical malpractice. Everyone has heard horror stories about a patient who woke up to find the doctor had amputated the wrong limb. Even mistakes like leaving surgical items inside a patient’s body are more common than you think.
Surgeons can make terrible errors. Staff may not be adequately trained to handle an emergency and can miss an internal bleed. Sterilization errors or poor post-operative care can lead to infection and sepsis.
Errors involving anesthesia are extremely life-threatening. Even if the patient survives, there is a high risk of brain damage. Many medical malpractice scenarios include anesthesia errors.
The surgical team might fail to evaluate the medical history and identify potential complications before giving anesthesia. The pre-operative instructions could be omitted or incomplete. A medical provider might place the breathing tube improperly or provide too much anesthesia to the patient.
Childbirth malpractice can affect the baby, the mother, or both. Errors can occur during pregnancy, at the time of labor and delivery, or post-delivery. Negligent medical care in childbirth is the leading cause of maternal death in the United States.
Common causes of childbirth injury include prenatal errors, such as:
- Failure to accurately diagnose the mother with a pregnancy-related condition
- Failure to diagnose a disease or condition that could pass to the fetus through the mother
- Failure to diagnose congenital aberrations before labor and delivery
Injuries during labor and delivery caused by negligence include:
- Failure to recognize or respond to fetal distress
- Failure to perform a medically necessary c-section
- Failure to use forceps or other extraction techniques correctly
Severe birth injuries resulting from medical malpractice may also include:
- Brain injuries
- Cerebral palsy
- Bone fractures
- Cervical separation
How to Determine Liability for Medical Malpractice
Determining who is liable for medical malpractice can be a challenge. Was it the doctor, a nurse, or the hospital? Maybe the fault lies with a medical device manufacturer, an HMO, or a pharmaceutical company.
In some cases, more than one party can be found liable. Your medical malpractice attorney will help you determine against whom to file. You can bring medical malpractice suits against multiple parties at the same time.
Is There a Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice in Florida?
Because there are several time limits on medical malpractice cases in Florida, you should consult a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. Missing your window can mean giving up any chance at compensation, and the doctor may cause harm to others after you.
You have an initial two years starting on the date of your injury to file your medical malpractice case. If you didn’t know about your injury, this deadline could be extended to two years after you found out. However, once four years in total have passed, your right to file a case ends.
Before you can file, you have to put the healthcare provider(s) you are naming on notice. You’ll need to present an affidavit from another medical professional verifying that you have a valid case for medical malpractice. You have to do this 90 days before you file your case.
The health provider might reach out and try to settle during the 90-day window. If they don’t, you can proceed to file your claim. If they do, you can accept or reject the settlement.
Initial offers to settle are typically on the low side. The doctor, hospital, or other health care professional just wants you to go away. They don’t want a medical malpractice case on their record.
Having a qualified medical malpractice lawyer on your side can help keep you from accepting a lowball offer. If your 90 days aren’t up yet, we can file an extension to find a medical expert to investigate your case. Our team will work with the investigator to study your records and look for evidence of malpractice.
If you don’t arrive at a satisfactory settlement, we can then file your medical malpractice case. This process involves going even deeper into the facts of your injury and its cause, and building a strong case to take to court.
The statute of limitations is extended only under special circumstances. You could still have a case after years have passed if a doctor committed malpractice for personal financial gain (fraud), or tried to hide misconduct or negligence.
Most Common Injuries Caused by Medical Malpractice
Each category of medical malpractice includes multiple types of injuries. If you aren’t sure if your injury qualifies, an investigation can help reveal the truth. Common injuries caused by medical malpractice include:
- Misdiagnosis or a wrong diagnosis, causing advanced disease, metastasized cancer, or organ damage
- Failure to treat, or advise a patient of all the options, leading to a worsened condition or death
- Surgical errors, leading to trauma, infection, spinal cord injuries, or brain damage
- Medical product liability, cause injury or death due to device or apparatus malfunction
- Birth injuries, causing harm to or death of the mother, the child, or both
Potential Damages to Which You May Be Entitled Due to Medical Malpractice
There are three types of damages awarded in a medical malpractice case. First are economic damages to help cover measurable losses. You can receive compensation for medical expenses, loss of earnings, and costs of your future care.
Next, you can file for non-economic damages. These types of damages compensate you for your physical, emotional, and mental suffering.
In rare cases, the court may award punitive damages above and beyond your economic and non-economic award. For example, this would typically apply if a doctor harmed you deliberately, or is guilty of “gross negligence” beyond normal malpractice. Punitive damages don’t apply to most cases.
Get the Help of an Experienced Florida Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Medical malpractice cases may settle out of court, but it’s vital to obtain appropriate legal representation to protect your rights. A skilled medical malpractice lawyer will be able to fight for the highest settlement possible and take the case to court if an insurance company offers inadequate compensation.
Medical malpractice can have devastating consequences for you and your family. A settlement or court award can help defray financial expenses and give you peace of mind. Our team of experienced attorneys at Menendez Trial Attorneys serves clients throughout Miami and South Florida. We will investigate every aspect of your case to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today at 305-445-6500 to discuss your case during a free consultation.
Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only, and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.
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