What Qualifies As Medical Malpractice In Florida

Medical malpractice in Florida occurs when a doctor or other health care provider harms a patient or allows them to be harmed due to unreasonable carelessness. A patient may be eligible for financial compensation if a healthcare provider’s actions or carelessness rise to the level of negligence. However, because many patients don’t know what qualifies as medical malpractice in Florida, they might not know when they have justification to file claims or lawsuits.

Standards for Medical Negligence in Florida

Florida law establishes the criteria for a medical malpractice or negligence case. You may have grounds to file a claim or lawsuit if either of the following apply:

  • A health care provider’s negligence (check Florida’s legal definitions of health care providers to find out who does and doesn’t qualify) resulted in death or injury. Their negligence represented a breach of the standard of care by which a healthcare provider in their position should abide.
  • Someone provided treatment that caused an injury that was not typically foreseeable. For example, a doctor performed surgery that resulted in injuries not usually associated with that procedure.

Medical malpractice and negligence can involve mere inaction. For example, a doctor might engage in malpractice if they fail to treat a patient.

Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim in Florida

Filing a medical malpractice claim in Florida involves several steps. They include the following:

  • Pre-suit investigation – Before taking any legal action, a claimant must investigate their case to confirm they may have grounds to file a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit. A doctor can assist with this task. A lawyer may also help a claimant understand whether their case is strong enough to justify taking action.
  • Providing notice – A claimant must notify all prospective defendants of their plan to take legal action after completing a pre-suit investigation. Their notification must include a signed affidavit from a medical professional confirming a pre-suit investigation revealed they have grounds to file a medical malpractice complaint.
  • 90-day waiting period – Upon receiving the above notice, prospective defendants and their insurers have 90 days to conduct their own investigations. A claimant may not file a lawsuit during this period.

After the 90-day period ends, an insurer may refuse to pay a claimant, offer a settlement, or offer to enter into arbitration. You don’t have to accept initial settlement offers if they’re too low.

Proving Medical Malpractice in Florida

The specific ways you may prove medical malpractice in Florida can depend somewhat on the specifics of your case. However, the following tactics are generally helpful:

  • Gathering medical documentation of injuries resulting from medical malpractice
  • Coordinating with doctors and other professionals who may provide useful testimony
  • Keeping a pain journal
  • Citing relevant case law to show how similar cases have qualified as medical malpractice in Florida

Naturally, medical malpractice cases require medical evidence. You may have to coordinate with various medical professionals to gather all the evidence you need.

Patient Rights and Informed Consent in Florida

Florida’s medical consent law states patients might seek compensation if they sustained harm undergoing treatment they did not consent to. Be aware, that consent must be informed consent. That means a patient can’t properly consent to treatment without being aware of the risks associated with said treatment.

Common Types of Medical Malpractice Cases

What Qualifies As Medical Malpractice In FloridaMedical malpractice cases can take many forms. The following are among the most common:

  • Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis – A patient may not receive the treatment they need in a timely manner if a doctor fails to diagnose their condition or provides the wrong diagnosis. A misdiagnosis can also result in a patient undergoing treatment they don’t need.
  • Surgical errors – Surgical errors may include leaving foreign objects in patients’ bodies, performing surgery on the wrong patients, performing surgery on the wrong parts of the body, performing the wrong procedures, and more.
  • Prescription errors – Healthcare providers can engage in negligence when prescribing medications. For example, a doctor might not consider how a medication can potentially interact with other medications a patient takes. Or, a doctor might prescribe medication without getting a patient’s medical history.

Medical malpractice can even occur when a patient has already received treatment. For example, a hospital or surgical team may fail to provide adequate aftercare for a patient who’s undergone surgery.

Damages Recoverable for Medical Malpractice in Florida

“Damages” is the legal term for compensation a jury may award if you go to trial. You receive a “settlement” if you reach an out-of-court agreement with an insurance company.

Losses for which you may receive settlement compensation or damages due to medical malpractice in Florida generally fall into these categories:

  • Economic losses
  • Non-economic losses

Economic losses are losses that cost money. For example, due to medical malpractice, you may have had to undergo additional medical treatment. You may file a claim or lawsuit seeking compensation for the cost of said treatment.

You could also seek compensation for non-economic losses that don’t have exact dollar values. Pain and suffering is one example of such a loss.

Florida law places some limitations on the compensation and damages available to victims and their loved ones. Typically, the maximum amount of money a victim can receive for non-economic losses is $500,000. They (or their loved ones taking legal action on their behalf) may be eligible to receive up to $1 million if medical malpractice left them in a vegetative state or resulted in death.

Those maximums increase when a defendant isn’t a medical practitioner. If a nonpractioner’s medical negligence causes harm, a victim may be eligible to receive up to $750,000 for non-economic losses, or up to $1.5 million if medical negligence left them in a vegetative state or resulted in death.

The law also establishes limits on non-economic damages when a practitioner defendant engages in medical negligence while providing emergency care. In these circumstances, the most an individual claimant could receive is $150,000, regardless of how many defendants a case involves. A plaintiff may receive up to $750,000 in non-economic damages when a non-practitioner harmed them while providing emergency care.

Contact a Florida Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Building a medical malpractice case can be very complex. Between gathering evidence and determining how much compensation you may deserve, you may find the process overwhelming.

You don’t have to navigate the claims or lawsuit process alone. At Jurewitz Law Group Injury & Accident Lawyers, a Florida medical malpractice lawyer can offer the dedicated and compassionate representation you need now. Get started today by contacting us online or calling us at (619) 233-5020 for a free case review.

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