Each year, thousands of patients are injured by doctors and other health care providers they have entrusted to make them well. Even worse, these patients are often confused about how to hold a negligent health care professional responsible for their injuries. Bringing a medical malpractice case is not easy. At Sibley Dolman, our North Miami Beach medical malpractice lawyers have the skills and resources to help you make an effective claim for compensation.
Who Can I Sue for Medical Malpractice?
It is a common misconception that you can only sue doctors for medical malpractice. In fact, you can sue any medical professional, including:
- Medical specialists
- Nurses and nurse practitioners
In some situations, you might even be able to sue the hospital or medical facility if they are in some way responsible for your injuries. If you have a question about who to sue, it is better to check with a lawyer than assume that you have no case.
What are Some Common Examples of Medical Malpractice?
Health care providers like doctors and surgeons commit malpractice whenever the care they provide falls below the prevailing professional standard. According to law, health care professionals must use the care that other reasonably prudent professionals would use in the circumstances.
At Sibley Dolman, we see some common examples of malpractice, including:
- Wrong diagnosis. A doctor might completely miss an illness or injury, or they might diagnose you with a condition you do not have. Either way, you can suffer injury because treatment is delayed or you receive treatment that was unnecessary.
- Surgical errors. A surgeon or another professional in the operating room might make a mistake that injures you. For example, a surgeon might leave sponges or other implements inside you, or they might perform surgery incompetently, resulting in death or injury. Similarly, an anesthesiologist might not properly monitor you, leading to oxygen deprivation or another injury.
- Medication and other treatment errors. The doctor might correctly identify your illness or injury but prescribe improper treatment, leading to injury.
- Birthing injuries. Many different things can go wrong during pregnancy or delivery. For example, mothers might suffer excessive bleeding, prolonged labor, infection, or negligent anesthesia. Babies can suffer nerve injuries and oxygen deprivation.
What are the Signs of Medical Malpractice?
Doctors and other medical professionals are not in the habit of confessing their mistakes. Nevertheless, you might sense that something is wrong with your body soon after treatment. For example, your condition might not be improving even though you have followed your doctor’s prescribed regimen, or you might start feeling increased pain.
Look for these other signs of medical malpractice which should serve as red flags:
- A doctor offers a different second opinion. This might mean that your initial doctor failed to diagnose you properly.
- A doctor made a diagnosis of a serious illness without ordering any tests.
- You develop complications after surgery. Some complications can’t be avoided, but some might stem from medical negligence.
- You develop a side effect after taking medication that your doctor never told you about.
- Your doctor is avoiding you and not returning your calls—the sign of a guilty conscience.
In short, trust your gut if you suspect something is wrong. Obtain a second opinion and reach out to a medical malpractice lawyer for help with analyzing your case.
Does it Matter if I Have a Pre-existing Injury?
Most people visit a doctor precisely because they are suffering from some illness or injury, so this isn’t surprising. For example, you might have hurt your back and gone to a chiropractor for relief from pain. The fact that you have a pre-existing injury does not prevent you from holding a medical professional responsible for medical malpractice. The key is whether the doctor or professional made your condition worse by not treating you properly.
Proving Medical Malpractice
Being able to reach a settlement with the party that caused your medical malpractice injuries hinges on leverage that is attained through proof of medical malpractice. Unlike mnay other forms of personal injury, medical malpractice is based around the performance of a medical professional which is sometimes not as clear cut as negligence assigned in a case concerning something like a car accident or premises liability. In order to prove a medical malpractice suit, it is essential that a claimant be able to show that the medical professional in question violated the standard of care expected of them.
The Standard of Care and Medical Malpractice
The standard of care in the context of healthcare is the level of care expected of a medical professional. This level of care that is expected in the standard of care is determined through comparison to other healthcare professionals in the same field in similar circumstances. The standard of care is not the same for every medical professional and it is sometimes not exactly the same for healthcare providers in the same field. For example, A pediatrician that works out of a clinic in a small rural town will not have the same standard of care expected of them as a surgeon at a major hospital in a city. Medical malpractice claims will regularly utilize expert witnesses consisting of similar medical professionals as the one who has allegedly committed medical malpractice in order for them to testify regarding what they would have done in a similar situation as the defendant. It is important to remember that medical malpractice is not simply a medical error but medical negligence that could have been avoided had a medical professional done what they were supposed to.
What is the Average Medical Malpractice Settlement?
There is no “average” settlement. Each case is unique, so you will need to analyze the factors that go into determining how much compensation you can receive. For example, you and your medical malpractice lawyer will need to look at the following:
- How much medical care have you needed to treat the injury your doctor caused?
- How much medical care might you need in the future to help you cope with your injury?
- Did you miss work? How much did you lose in wages?
Many clients can receive full compensation for economic losses like medical care and lost wages. You might also receive compensation for the following non-economic losses:
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Lost companionship, care, guidance, and sexual intimacy if your spouse is injured
Non-economic losses are harder to estimate, but an experienced medical malpractice attorney can rely on their experience in the field to calculate how much is available.
How Much Time do I Have to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
Over the years, Florida has made it increasingly harder for injured patients to hold medical professionals legally responsible for the injuries they cause. Generally, you have only two years from the date of the malpractice to bring a lawsuit. If your injuries were slow to develop and you did not know you had been the victim of medical malpractice, then you have two years from the date you discovered the injury or should have.
However, Florida passed a “statute of repose” which cuts off all medical malpractice claims after four years—regardless of when you realized you had been the victim of medical malpractice. There are some narrow exceptions for fraud or injuries to children. In any event, you should contact a lawyer as soon as you suspect that a health care provider has injured you.
Contact a North Miami Beach Medical Malpractice Attorney
Have you been injured by a doctor or other medical professional? If so, you need to contact a medical malpractice attorney at Sibley Dolman today. Our team will work with you to identify whether you have a valid legal claim and can handle all of the pre-suit requirements required by the state of Florida. To schedule your free, no-risk consultation, call us at (305)-676-8154 or fill out this contact sheet.
Sibley Dolman Accident Injury Lawyers, LLP
1820 NE 163rd St #306,
North Miami Beach, FL 33162