Medical Negligence, Doctor and Nurse Error
Medical Malpractice cases in Florida are governed by a complex group of statutes, enacted by the Florida Legislature. These statutes, found in Chapter 766 of the Florida Statutes are called “The Medical Malpractice Act”.
The Medical Malpractice Act contains numerous technical requirements which, if not followed precisely, can result in dismissal of an otherwise meritorious law suit. Thus, attorneys who handle medical malpractice cases must be intimately familiar with the medical malpractice statutes and assure that all of the pre-requisites to filing a medical malpractice law suit are met.
Unlike other types of personal injury law suits, before a medical malpractice law suit can be filed, the claimant must give ninety days written notice to each potential defendant, accompanied by an affidavit from a health care provider in the same speciality of medical practice as each potential defendant, confirming that the claimant’s medical records have been reviewed, that there are reasonable grounds to believe that medical malpractice was committed, and that the claimant suffered damages as a result of the malpractice. During the ninety-day pre-suit period, the potential defendants have the right to be provided with all of the claimant’s medical records, to take unsworn statements from the claimants, and to have the claimants examined by a physician chosen by the potential defendants.
The statute of limitations as set forth in Florida Statute 95.11 (4)(b), and statue of repose are shorter for medical malpractice cases than for many other types of personal injury cases. A medical malpractice case must be commenced within two years of the date on which the patient knew or should have known of the malpractice or of an injury caused by malpractice. The statute of repose provides up to four years from the date of the negligent act in which to commence an action, but no more than two years from the date on which the patient knew or should have known of the malpractice or of an injury attributable to the malpractice. Thus, if a patient does not know of either the malpractice or an injury arising from it, the time to bring an action can be extended for up to four years. In the event of intentional fraud of a defendant to hide the knowledge of malpractice or an injury from malpractice from a patient, the statute of repose can be extended for up to seven years.
Unfortunately, in 2003, the Florida Legislature enacted strict limitations on the amount of non-economic damages one can recover in a medical malpractice action. Non-economic damages are damages one receives for pain and suffering, loss of the enjoyment of life and other damages unrelated to direct monetary types of loss. Direct monetary losses, such as medical bills and lost earnings, are called economic damages.
The limitation on non-economic damages where the medical negligence was committed by a “practitioner” (“practitioner” generally refers to physicians) is $500,000.00 per claimant, regardless of the number of practitioners who are liable. However, if the negligence resulted in a permanent vegetative state or death, or if it is determined that the injury is “catastrophic” the limit on non-economic damages can be raised to $1,000,000.00. The limitation for “non practitioners” (“non practitioners” would include hospitals) is $750,000.00 per claimant. In the event of permanent vegetative state or death, or if it is determined that the injury is “catastrophic” the limitation for a “non practitioner” can rise to $1,500,000.00.
In order to win a medical malpractice case a patient must prove, by the greater weight of the evidence, that the health care provider failed to use reasonable care. Reasonable care on the part of a doctor is defined by the Florida Standard Jury Instructions as that level of care, skill and treatment which, in light of all relevant surrounding circumstances, is recognized as acceptable and appropriate by similar and reasonably careful doctors. Thus, as one might expect, medical malpractice trials often boil down to the jury hearing conflicting testimony from medical experts. The experts often disagree on whether the defendant doctor exercised reasonable care.
The cost of hiring quality medical experts, usually in multiple specialties for each case, makes it very expensive to litigate medical malpractice cases. At Abramowitz & Pomerantz, P.A., once we determine that a case we investigate is meritorious, we advance all of the necessary costs of litigation. If we are successful in obtaining a recovery in the case, our client pays us back for the costs we have advanced with no payment of interest. If we are not successful in achieving a recovery, our clients are not responsible to reimburse us for the costs we have advanced. Of course, we handle medical malpractice cases on a contingent fee basis, insuring that our clients pay us a fee only if we recover money from the defendants. We will be happy to provide you with a free initial consultation to enable you to discuss the merits of your possible medical malpractice claim with one of our attorneys. Please feel free to contact us today at (954) 572-7200, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by filling out our online claim from contained in our website at www.floridainjurylawyers.com.