What to Expect During Arbitration in a Florida Medical Malpractice Case
One of the initial stages of litigation in a Florida medical malpractice case is the pre-suit investigation and response provided by the prospective defendant after receiving notice that you intend to file a lawsuit to recover damages. The statute allows the health care provider 90 days to look into your allegations and either:
- Reject your claim;
- Offer settlement; or
- Offer to resolve the dispute through arbitration.
There are multiple benefits and downfalls for you as the potential plaintiff regarding option #3, so your Florida medical malpractice lawyer will explain the specifics – and may advise you to move forward with voluntary arbitration. As such, you might find it useful to understand what to expect during the proceedings.
How Florida Med Mal Arbitration Works: If the potential defendant offers arbitration after conducting the pre-suit investigation and you accept, you’ll begin preparations. You should note the following about the proceeding:
- There will be three arbitrators on the panel. Each party will select one, and the last is an administrative judge appointed by law to serve as the chief arbitrator.
- When the defendant offers to arbitrate, he or she ADMITS liability. In other words, you don’t have to prove fault or negligence. The purpose of arbitration is solely to determine damages.
- Because the only disputed issue is your damages as a victim, the evidence and arguments center on your losses. Your attorney will present information regarding your medical costs for treatment, lost wages, pain and suffering, diminished quality of life, and other losses.
Note that you can reject the offer for voluntary arbitration, at which point your case proceeds to litigation and trial. In addition, the prospective plaintiff can also propose to resolve your case through arbitration.
Pros and Cons of Pre-Suit Arbitration of Medical Malpractice Cases: Every claim is different, so your lawyer will provide specific information and consult with you on whether arbitration is the right fit. However, you might want to review some of the general pros and cons:
- Arbitration is often preferred over the time and expense involved with traditional litigation. A med mal lawsuit could take several months, and most even go on for years because of the complexity of the subject matter.
- The only topic during arbitration is damages, since the potential defendant accepts responsibility for making a medical error. Some of the most hotly disputed, complicated proceedings in a lawsuit involve whether the health care provider was negligent AND whether that negligence was a direct cause of harm. You can avoid these issues by electing arbitration.
- The downside of arbitration is that your potential damages may be limited, either through the statutory cap of $250,000 on non-economic damages and other limitations on recoverable damages. Alternatively, if you reject arbitration, your non-economic damages at trial will be capped at $350,000.
Our Florida Medical Malpractice Attorneys Can Provide Additional Details
From this overview, you can see that pre-suit voluntary binding arbitration can be an effective strategy to maximize your compensation, resolve your claim quickly, and limit the risks involved with traditional litigation. However, this decision is a very complicated decision, and the law can be tricky – making it all the more important for you to have an experienced medical malpractice lawyer representing you and your family. For more information about the process and the benefits for your unique situation, please contact Freidin Brown, P.A. to speak with a Miami medical malpractice lawyer. We can schedule a free consultation at our offices to review your circumstances.