John Hopkins Medicine reports that medical mistakes account for an astonishing one-third of all U.S. deaths. Heart disease and cancer rank 1st and 2nd, respectively, and medical errors are ahead of the 4th-place respiratory disease for the most common cause of death. Annually, there are an estimated more than 210,000 medical malpractice deaths — many of which are preventable. One report estimates the fatality rate may be as high as 400,000 annually based upon unreported and under-reported cases. Florida is also the 3rd-largest state for reported medical malpractice actions.
In the last quarter century, many states, including Florida, have seen an onslaught of medical malpractice lawsuits due to medical errors and injuries. In response, Florida enacted several laws, one of which in 2003 capped certain damages for pain and suffering in medical malpractice cases (see Florida Statutes § 766.118). Fortunately for injured patients, fourteen years later, the Florida Supreme Court struck down that law and eliminated the noneconomic damage cap. (see North Broward Hospital District vs. Kalitan).
Florida does, in fact, have some of the nation’s highest malpractice insurance rates. Surgeons and physicians who specialize in obstetrics and gynecology can face annual premiums of $100,000 to $200,000. For the general family doctor, malpractice rates average $20,000 to $30,000 per year. Having substantial insurance policies is important because the costs of malpractice-related injuries can be overwhelming. It’s clear that medical malpractice, unfortunately, occurs all too frequently and patients can seek recovery from malpractice insurance or by filing a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Before Florida attorneys may file a professional liability lawsuit against a medical practitioner, they must certify that she conducted a reasonable investigation and concluded that good faith grounds exist for each named defendant and that good faith can be shown if the attorney obtained an expert’s certification. They must provide the doctor with notice of intent to file a lawsuit and engage in settlement conferences before a claim is filed.
Because Florida laws can be so complicated in regard to medical malpractice claims, so you need an attorney who fully understands these laws. Contact the law firm of Sibley Dolman for help today.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider is negligent, meaning the doctor, nurse, surgeon, hospital, pharmacist, or another party deviated from accepted practice norms in the medical community. Not all bad outcomes mean that medical malpractice occurred, nor do all medical mistakes equate to malpractice. That is why an experienced medical malpractice attorney should be consulted.
Four fundamental elements are required to successfully bring a negligence case:
- Establishing a duty: the healthcare professional owes a duty to the patient. A doctor-patient relationship usually supports this first element.
- Breach of duty: the practitioner failed to use the same (or better) degree of care and skill that another healthcare professional would have rendered in the same situation (this is where an expert is often required because no two cases are alike)
- Harm (damages): was the patient injured, physically or mentally? Is their injury new, or a recurrence or aggravation of a pre-existing illness or condition?
- Causation: firm evidence is needed to link the breach of duty with the resulting damages
Medical malpractice cases are highly technical, laden with biology, anatomy, chemical, science, and other specialized terms and knowledge. A good medical malpractice attorney has the resource to handle these issues and has years of experience, knowledge, and insight regarding medical mistakes and malpractice law.
Typical Causes of Medical Malpractice
Here are some typical causes of medical errors, which can result in debilitating, costly injuries and death:
- Surgical mistakes (not only during surgery, but also post-operative care)
- Infections and complications
- Anesthesia errors (wrong dosage, over-sedation, failure to properly monitor a patient)
- Childbirth errors (including prenatal care, labor, and delivery)’
- Medication mistakes (prescribing the wrong medicines, wrong dosages, or adverse drug interactions)
- Tired healthcare workers (fatigue, exhaustion)
- Wrong diagnosis (failing to order correct tests, misreading symptoms, not recognizing a condition)
What Will Your Medical Malpractice Attorney Do?
Many lawyers handle personal injury cases, but not all lawyers have the depth, experience, and knowledge unique to medical malpractice cases. You want an attorney who understands medical malpractice cases. Your attorney will handle all aspects of your case, including:
- Interviewing you
- Reviewing your medical history
- Investigating your illness, sickness or injuries, so that he can certify you have reasonable grounds to file suit (per Florida law)
- Gathering medical records and reports
- Consulting with other medical professionals
- Monitoring your progress
- Determining the strength of your case
- Putting other parties on notice (this can get tricky, where there are governmental agencies involved)
- Negotiating with insurance companies
- Filing suit
- Conducting discovery, with requires a significant amount of time
- Bringing your case to trial if it cannot otherwise be resolved
Your attorney will make a good faith determination whether negligence occurred, which is critical for your case to move forward.
How Much is my Case Worth?
Naturally, most clients ask “how much is my case worth”? Although your attorney can give you an approximate range (guideline), there no guarantees. Much depends on your age, health, occupation, type of injury, long-term prognosis, and other physical and emotional factors.
Damages sought in a medical malpractice claim can include:
- Drug costs
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Medical equipment (e.g., devices, appliances, prosthetics, walkers, wheelchairs, scooters)
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Wrongful death
Other damages are for pain and suffering, the value of which is difficult to calculate and often requires the help of medical and economic experts. No two cases are alike and you need the right attorney on your side to ensure you receive the full value of your claim.
Were You Hurt by Medical Malpractice? Call an Experienced Broward County Lawyer Today for Help
If you or someone you know was injured by medical malpractice, don’t delay. There are strict time limits to file your case. Your injuries may be substantial and you should be compensated for your damages. We are the skilled, experienced lawyers at Sibley Dolman, conveniently located in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Call us right away at 754-208-1130 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation today.
100 SE 3rd Ave
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33394
What Our Clients Have to Say:
“This firm is amazing! Very professional, they helped me with my case until the end. They were available and very flexible. Brent Sibley would answer all my calls/emails and wouldn’t hesitate on explaining all of my concerns. They represented me on my case, in which it turned out to have a successful result. Super recommend them!”
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