What Makes a Medical Malpractice Case?
If you suspect that something was off during a hospital procedure, or know that your subsequent injuries were not a natural result of medical treatment, you may still feel some trepidation about filing a full lawsuit. However, medical malpractice cases are fundamentally about holding healthcare providers accountable for the harm they’ve caused, and if you’re suffering, then you are legally entitled to seek compensation. If you are successful, you may find that you can live a more comfortable life in the wake of your injuries, and find financial relief after spending thousands of dollars on unnecessary treatments.
At Freidin Brown, P.A., we’ve seen many clients experience this same crisis when deciding whether to pursue a medical malpractice claim. We know how painful it can be to move forward through this complex legal process, but our seasoned medical malpractice lawyers can make your life a little easier by providing compassionate counsel and keeping you informed throughout the process. In this post, we’ll touch on some of the key elements that go into a medical malpractice case, and provide a brief overview of the legal process.
The Core Elements of Medical Malpractice Cases
What Are Medical Malpractice Claims?
Medical malpractice claims are also called “medical torts.” In tort law, the person injured or otherwise harmed (the plaintiff) claims that some civil wrong has been committed by another party (the defendant). In medical malpractice cases, this means the plaintiff says that a healthcare provider hurt them, or failed to properly treat or diagnose an illness. If the plaintiff is able to prove his or her case by a greater weight of the evidence, the healthcare provider will be responsible for “damages.” This means they will need to cover financial expenses like medical bills and lost income, as well as “non-economic” damages like pain and suffering.
Even if the government does not pursue criminal charges for wrongdoing, the civil court system allows us to hold wrongdoers accountable for their harmful actions. You can pursue a civil case alongside an existing criminal case, but the results of the criminal case rarely have an impact on civil proceedings.
Negligence: Why It Matters in Injury Cases
Like other kinds of personal injury cases, the success of a medical malpractice lawsuit hinges on the legal theory of negligence. Negligence can only occur if there is an established relationship between the healthcare provider and you as the plaintiff. You cannot, for example, argue that a doctor who has never treated your injuries committed negligence. There has to be an existing doctor-patient relationship in place, one that was violated when they failed to meet the appropriate “standard of care.” The definition of negligence varies from state to state, but the principle remains the same everywhere.
What Is the Standard of Care in Medicine?
In medicine, the “standard of care” is the measuring stick for a doctor’s or nurse’s actions on the surgical table, in the hospital, or in an outpatient office. No matter the procedure, all healthcare professionals are expected to have the knowledge and qualifications to make reasonable decisions about your medical care. If you can demonstrate that the doctor, nurse, or other healthcare provider did not apply the appropriate standard of care, and that a reasonably careful healthcare provider under the exact same circumstances would have acted differently, then that would be considered negligence. Arguing that a healthcare provider failed to meet the standard of care is central to proving medical malpractice cases.
Restrictions and Requirements for Medical Malpractice Claims
There are unique limits to medical malpractice claims. The most important to keep in mind is the statute of limitations: Most states only allow a few years after discovering your injuries to file a claim. In Florida, you only have 2 years to file, from the date the negligence was discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence.
Before filing suit, Florida law also requires you to conduct a presuit investigation of the claim for medical negligence and obtain a corroborating opinion from a medical expert in the same specialty. Once you conduct your presuit investigation, you must notify the healthcare provider, institution, or hospital that that you plan on bringing a claim. This is called a “Notice of Intent” under Florida Statutes Chapter 766. This is all the more reason you need an experienced medical malpractice lawyer who regularly handles complex medical negligence cases.
For more advice on your medical malpractice claim in Florida, contact Freidin Brown, P.A. at 866-716-7292. We offer free consultations 24/7.
What You Can Expect During Your Medical Malpractice Case
When you file a medical malpractice claim, there will most likely be a financial settlement or other agreement before it ever reaches court – more than 93 of civil cases of this nature do not reach the trial phase. However, there are many instances where the case cannot be settled out of court, and a jury may have to decide the case.
Here are some of the key steps you can expect to encounter during your medical malpractice case:
Investigation and research: During this initial phase, your lawyers will work to interview experts, obtain medical records and bills, and write reports, all in preparation to file your claim.
Presuit Investigation: In Florida, the law requires that all claimants in a medical negligence case must first conduct a presuit investigation of the claim and engage in a presuit discovery process with the defendants. Only once this presuit phase is completed can your lawyers file your lawsuit on your behalf.
Filing your claim: Once you have sufficient evidence and a solid legal strategy in place, your lawyers will file the lawsuit—also known as a “Complaint.”
Discovery: The discovery phase allows both parties to begin asking questions, whether verbal or written. Individuals may be asked to provide depositions under oath, and experts will be hired to give their opinions.
Negotiation: Your lawyers will work closely with the defendant’s lawyers in order to reach a favorable resolution. At Freidin Brown, P.A., we do everything in our power to reach a settlement that favors our clients. However, we also know that settlement is not always a viable option in every case, and we are always ready to proceed to trial if need be.
Trial: If no agreement can be reached, your medical malpractice case will go to trial, which is generally decided by a jury. Once there is a verdict, either the judge or the jury will decide if you have sufficiently proved negligence on part of the healthcare provider.
At Freidin Brown, P.A., we’ve proven that we can get results in medical malpractice cases.Winning millions in settlements or verdicts for our injured clients, we know how to fight for the recovery you need to heal. If you’re ready to discuss a potential claim, call 866-716-7292 to speak with one of our Florida medical malpractice lawyers.