Medical Malpractice FAQs
Do You Have a Malpractice Claim? Learn What You Need to Know from an Experienced Florida Medical Malpractice Attorney
Doctors make mistakes. In fact, according to data from Johns Hopkins Medicine, medical mistakes are alarmingly common. As a result, many patients and families find themselves in need of an experienced Florida medical malpractice attorney. But, many patients and families also struggle to know where to begin.
If you have questions about filing a medical malpractice claim, it is important to make sure you gather all of the information you need. For many people, filing a successful claim can be the difference between moving on and facing a lifetime of unnecessary financial and non-financial costs.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Medical Malpractice Claims in Florida
What do you need to know about filing a medical malpractice claim in Florida? Here are the answers to 10 frequently asked questions (FAQs) from our medical malpractice attorneys:
How do I know if the doctor committed malpractice?
Knowing if your (or a loved one’s) doctor committed medical malpractice isn’t easy. First, you need to know whether the doctor made a mistake. Second, you need to know whether the doctor’s mistake rises to the level of medical malpractice under Florida law.
Medical mistakes can take many forms, those of which may rise to the level of medical malpractice, though some do not. The circumstances matter, and you will need an experienced Florida medical malpractice attorney to assess the circumstances of your (or your loved one’s) care to determine if you have a claim.
Misdiagnoses, delayed diagnoses, surgical errors, treatment errors, and failure to monitor a patient’s condition are all common mistakes that can—and frequently do—rise to the level of medical malpractice. But, in medical emergencies and certain other scenarios, some mistakes may be justified based on the circumstances involved. When you hire an attorney to represent you, your attorney will rely on his or her experience (and, as necessary, the advice of expert medical consultants) to help you decide whether legal action is warranted.
How do I sue for medical malpractice in Florida?
Suing for medical malpractice in Florida usually involves filing a claim with the provider’s insurance company. Nearly all healthcare providers have medical malpractice insurance—and this insurance is there to compensate patients and their families when providers make mistakes.
Before filing a claim, however, you must first submit a “notice of intent.” This is a requirement under Section 766.106 of the Florida Statutes. Properly preparing and submitting your notice of intent right is important, as mistakes at this stage can lead to unnecessary complications. When you hire a Florida medical malpractice attorney, your attorney will handle this step on your behalf.
What constitutes medical malpractice in the state of Florida?
A medical mistake constitutes medical malpractice in Florida when it reflects a failure to meet the prevailing standard of care. All healthcare providers in Florida have a legal duty to provide care to a certain standard. When healthcare providers breach this duty, they can—and should—be held liable for medical malpractice.
In terms of the types of medical mistakes that can constitute medical malpractice, the list is extremely long. Along with doctors’ mistakes (i.e., failure to diagnose and surgical errors), nursing errors, triage errors and even hospital administration errors can give rise to medical malpractice claims as well. With this in mind, if you have any concerns about the quality of care you or a family member received at a medical facility in Florida, you should speak with a medical malpractice attorney about your legal rights.
How long do malpractice cases take in Florida?
There is no set timeline for a medical malpractice case in Florida. Instead, how long it takes to resolve your claim will depend heavily on the circumstances of your case. For example, some of the key factors that will go into determining the overall timeline include:
- How strong is the available evidence of medical malpractice?
- Is the provider’s insurance company willing to acknowledge liability?
- Is the provider’s insurance company willing to negotiate in good faith?
- How much are you entitled to recover (generally, insurance companies will fight harder in claims involving higher settlement values)?
- Do you need to take your case to court in order to convince the insurance company to negotiate or win a verdict at trial?
Generally speaking, the timeline for a medical malpractice case can be anywhere from about six months up to around two or three years. Hiring a Florida medical malpractice attorney promptly will often help speed up the process, and an experienced attorney will know what tactics he or she can use to work toward achieving a favorable outcome as efficiently as possible.
What are the punitive damages for medical malpractice in Florida?
Punitive damages can be awarded in addition to patients’ and families’ compensation awards in some Florida medical malpractice cases. Under Section 768.72 of the Florida Statutes, recovering punitive damages in a medical malpractice case requires “clear and convincing evidence . . . that the defendant was personally guilty of intentional misconduct or gross negligence.”
Medical malpractice cases rarely involve intentional misconduct. Instead, most punitive damages claims in these cases are based on allegations of gross negligence. Section 768.72 defines gross negligence as conduct that is “so reckless or wanting in care that it constitute[s] a conscious disregard or indifference to the life, safety, or rights of persons exposed to such conduct.”
Under Florida law, punitive damages can be awarded in an amount equal to up to three times a plaintiff’s compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater. Our attorneys can determine whether a claim for punitive damages is warranted in your case, and if so, we can work to recover these damages on your behalf.
Who can sue a hospital in Florida?
Patients and their family members can sue hospitals when hospitals (or their employees) are responsible for causing medical conditions or complications that could—and should—have been prevented. Filing a lawsuit against a hospital requires proof of negligence, which will take the form of medical malpractice in most cases.
Adult patients can sue hospitals for their own injuries, illnesses and complications, while parents and guardians can sue hospitals on behalf of their children. When medical negligence leads to a patient’s wrongful death, the patient’s family can hire a Florida medical malpractice attorney to file a lawsuit against the hospital.
How long do I have to sue a doctor in Florida?
Under Florida’s statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims, you have up to two years to sue a doctor in the Sunshine State. In most cases, this “limitations period” will run from the date of the malpractice. However, if you could not have reasonably discovered your doctor’s mistake when it happened, then you may have up to two years from the date that you discovered (or reasonably should have discovered) the mistake.
Florida also has a two-year statute of limitations for wrongful death claims. In cases involving child patients, special rules apply. In all cases, however, it is important to take action promptly, and we strongly recommend that you speak with a Florida medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible.
What is medical neglect in Florida?
In Florida, medical neglect is another term for medical malpractice. A doctor can be held liable for medical malpractice if he or she makes a mistake that constitutes “negligence” under Florida law. Common examples of negligence (or medical neglect) include diagnostic errors, treatment errors, unnecessarily delaying treatment, prescribing the wrong medications, improperly administering anesthesia and all types of surgical mistakes.
What are the types of negligence in Florida?
There are many types of negligence in Florida. In the context of a medical malpractice claim, almost any mistake that causes a patient unnecessary harm has the potential to constitute negligence. With that said, proving medical negligence is not easy—it requires in-depth medical and legal knowledge, and it requires the ability to obtain all necessary records, testimony and other evidence. This makes it important to put an experienced Florida medical malpractice attorney on your side.
What is a Florida medical malpractice case worth?
Determining what a Florida medical malpractice case is worth requires an in-depth assessment of the specific circumstances involved. As a victim of medical malpractice (or as the family member of a victim of medical malpractice), the damages you are entitled to recover depend on the losses you have suffered—and that you will continue to suffer in the future. While medical malpractice awards can be substantial, there are no guarantees, and maximizing your financial recovery starts with engaging experienced legal representation.
Discuss Your Legal Rights with a Florida Medical Malpractice Attorney for Free
Do you have more questions about filing a medical malpractice claim in Florida? If so, we encourage you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. To discuss your legal rights with a Florida medical malpractice attorney at Searcy Denney, call us at 800-780-8607 or tell us how we can reach you online today.