Why Medical Experts are Key to Your Medical Malpractice Claim

December 13, 2018
Why Medical Experts are Key to Your Medical Malpractice Claim

Medical Experts Are Essential to Medical Malpractice Claims

Negligence on the part of a surgeon, doctor, nurse, hospital or healthcare facility can exacerbate injuries and illnesses. They can also incur significant medical costs and require years of rehabilitation in order to be corrected. Some patients will never fully recover from the damage they sustain as a result of medical malpractice. For these reasons, it is important for victims of medical malpractice to assert their legal rights to compensation. Whether a medical malpractice claim is settled with an insurance company or submitted to litigation through a lawsuit, the opinion of an expert medical witness is critical to proving your claim. Learn why injury victims across southern Florida trust these lawyers to assert and protect their legal rights.

The Procedural Reasons for Obtaining the Opinion of an Expert Medical Witness

Section 766.104 of the Florida Statutes requires an attorney filing a medical malpractice lawsuit to include a certificate which states that he or she has made a reasonable investigation as permitted by the circumstances and has a good faith belief that there has been negligence in the care or treatment of the claimant. This requirement can be met if an attorney obtains a written opinion of a qualified medical expert which states that there appears to be evidence of medical negligence. There are other ways an attorney can meet this obligation, but obtaining an expert opinion is the easiest and safest method of doing so. Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Must Give Defendants Prior Notice Another important procedural requirement is found at Section 766.106 of the Florida Statutes. This statute requires medical malpractice victims to provide all defendants with notice of their intent to file a lawsuit before it is actually filed. Defendants may include a doctor, surgeon, nurse, or another staff member, a hospital, a pharmacist, the pharmacy which employed the negligent pharmacist, and other healthcare entities. No lawsuit may be filed for ninety days after the notice is served to the potential defendants. During this time, defendants and their professional liability insurance carriers must conduct investigations to determine their liability. The insurer must investigate the claim in good faith. Then, within the ninety-day investigation period, the insurer must provide the claimant with a written response which either rejects the claim altogether; makes a settlement offer; or makes an offer to arbitrate the amount of the claim. The purpose of this ninety-day period is to initiate settlement discussions between the injury victim and the defendant (or the defendant's insurance carrier). In order to have meaningful and substantive discussions, it is important that the defendant's insurance carrier be aware of the evidence against the defendant. An expert medical opinion is often the central evidence against a medical professional who is accused of negligence. While the statute does not require that an expert medical opinion is provided with the notice of the claim, such an opinion is often helpful in achieving the statutory goal of meaningful settlement discussions.

Substantive Reasons for Obtaining the Opinion of an Expert Medical Witness

Obtaining an expert medical opinion before a malpractice case is filed also prepares the case for litigation. Without the opinion of a medical expert, a plaintiff cannot prove that the defendant health care provider failed to meet its duty of care in diagnosing or treating the patient. By obtaining this opinion before the case is filed, an attorney can prepare a comprehensive litigation strategy which conforms to the available evidence from an expert witness. Even if your claim settles outside of litigation, an expert medical opinion is often a key factor in securing a fair settlement offer. An insurance company makes a settlement offer in order to avoid a lawsuit. In order to secure a fair settlement offer, the claimant must demonstrate that he or she has enough evidence to file a lawsuit, and ultimately prevail at trial. Sometimes a claimant can demonstrate this without an expert opinion. Often times he or she cannot. In either event, a claimant must be prepared to go to trial in order to procure a fair settlement offer from an insurance company.

Other Medical Cases in Which an Expert Witness Can Be Helpful

Medical malpractice cases are not the only ones in which the opinion of an expert medical witness can be helpful. The Sun Sentinel reports on a proposed bill in the Florida state legislature which would allow HMO subscribers to sue HMOs which deny claims for services their doctors determine to be reasonably necessary. In such cases, the main issue will often be whether the service was, indeed, reasonably necessary. This will require the testimony of medical experts who can contradict the HMO's doctors (who will inevitably testify that the service was not reasonably necessary). It remains to be seen whether this bill will become effective Florida law. For family members of patients who are killed as a result of medical negligence, expert medical testimony is also necessary to effectively negotiate or litigate their claim. A wrongful death lawsuit is grounded in the claim that a medical professional's negligence caused the death of the patient. In order to prove such negligence, a wrongful death plaintiff must - like a medical malpractice plaintiff - demonstrate that the professional's care did not rise to the level of the reasonably prudent medical professional of similar training and experience.

Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorneys to Aggressively Defend Your Personal Injury Claim

Victims of medical malpractice have legal rights under Florida law. Those who are injured in this way are legally entitled to compensation for any losses that result from their injuries. This includes lost wages and decreased future earning potential, long-term medical care and rehabilitation, and all other costs that can be attributable to the negligent medical diagnosis or treatment. The Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA has many decades of experience working to protect the rights of medical malpractice victims in and around the Clearwater area. Call (727) 451-6900 or contact us online today to schedule your free consultation with an experienced, aggressive brain injury attorney. Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA 800 North Belcher Road Clearwater, FL 33765 (727) 451-6900 https://www.dolmanlaw.com/legal-services/medical-malpractice-attorneys/

Matthew Dolman

Clearwater Personal Injury and Insurance Attorney

This article was written and reviewed by Matthew Dolman. Matt has been a practicing civil trial, personal injury, products liability, and mass tort lawyer since 2004. He has represented over 11,000 injury victims and has served as lead counsel in over 1000 lawsuits. Matt is a lifetime member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum and Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum for resolving individual cases in excess or $1 million and $2 million, respectively. He has also been selected by his colleagues as a Florida Superlawyer and as a member of Florida’s Legal Elite on multiple occasions. Further, Matt has been quoted in the media numerous times and is a sought-after speaker on a variety of legal issues and topics.

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