4 Things You Need to Know About Arbitration in a Florida Medical Malpractice Case
If you suffered harm because of negligence by a health care provider, a trial is not the only option. You should be aware of another possibility for resolving your claim: Voluntary binding arbitration of medical negligence claims under Florida law. Arbitration becomes an option after you conduct a pre-suit investigation and notify the physician of your intent to file a lawsuit. There are multiple benefits to an arbitration proceeding, including quicker resolution, lower cost, and more certainty regarding the end result.
However, there are many other details you need to know about arbitration in a med mal case before you can determine if the process is the right fit for you. You can count on your Florida medical malpractice attorney to explain the specifics and represent you at the proceeding, but here are a few important points to keep in mind.
Arbitration and Medical Malpractice: Four Things Patients Should Know
- Either Side Can Request Arbitration
Both the patient and the health care provider can ask the court to send the case to arbitration, so long as the pre-lawsuit investigation process is complete. Parties have 90 days to make the election, starting from the date that the doctor receives the patient’s notice of intent to sue.
- A Panel Presides Over the Arbitration Session
Instead of a single judge presiding over the proceedings, there are three arbitrators on the panel that will decide your case. Each party chooses a member, and the last is an administrative law judge who is appointed by the court to act as chief arbitrator. Together, the members of the arbitration panel will hear both sides and issue a ruling – which is binding on the parties, so you cannot go back to court if dissatisfied.
- The Only Issue at Stake is Damages
When either party opts to have the med mal case resolved through arbitration, the ONLY issue for the arbitration panel is damages. In other words, when a physician requests arbitration, he or she is admitting liability. You do not need to prove negligence or the existence of a medical error, which is an advantage since liability can be the most complicated, hotly contested issue in a med mal case.
- Your Non-Economic Damages are Capped Under Florida Arbitration Rules
Under Florida’s medical malpractice regulations, non-economic damages are capped in voluntary binding arbitration. It is one of the core legal protections that doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers receive when agreeing to use the binding arbitration process. A Florida arbitration panel can award no more than $250,000 in compensation for non-economic damages per incident. Non-economic damages are intangible losses, they include things like pain and suffering and loss of love, consortium, and companionship.
Economic losses are not subject to such a hard statutory cap. In other words, you can pursue compensation for the full value of your economic damages, which may include emergency room care, other medical costs, rehabilitative treatment, lost wages, diminished earning capacity, and certain wrongful death damages.
Our Florida Medical Malpractice Attorneys Can Advise You on Arbitration
The arbitration process may be an effective way to recover fair compensation and resolve your med mal case quickly, but it is not the best option for every situation. You will need a skilled Miami medical malpractice lawyer to advise you on the benefits and represent you at the proceeding. For more information, please contact Freidin Brown, P.A. to set up a no-cost consultation at our offices.