What You Need to Know About Pediatric Medical Malpractice Claims
Dealing with a child’s health issues can be draining, and it can be especially overwhelming if you suspect they are the victims of medical malpractice. Unfortunately, medical malpractice claims involving children pose some unique challenges. Most importantly, trust your instincts. It is unlikely that the doctor or hospital will admit that something went wrong, so you should get a thorough medical exam from an independent physician. After that, you should speak with a Florida medical malpractice lawyer who has experience in handling pediatric medical malpractice claims.
What Makes Pediatric Medical Malpractice Claims Unique
Depending on the age of the child, the primary challenge in pediatric medical malpractice claims is that the child may not be able to tell you that something is wrong or describe their symptoms. This is particularly true for infants who may have suffered a birth injury but can be true of older children as well. Furthermore, children have lower tolerances for discomfort and pain, so it can be difficult to know if something isn’t right. Lastly, issues raised with the doctor or hospital are often dismissed as the concerns of a worried parent.
On top of the difficulties in identifying instances of malpractice among children, the potential negative consequences of pediatric medical malpractice are arguably much higher. Malpractice can result in life-long health issues for children leaving them with permanent disabilities that could require extensive daily care.
Again, it is vital that you trust your instincts. If you aren’t sure what to do, an experienced Florida medical malpractice lawyer can provide the guidance that you need. They can help you get a second opinion and discuss the options that you have for moving forward.
The Statute of Limitations in Pediatric Medical Malpractice Cases is Complex
The statute of limitations is the deadline by which you must file your lawsuit or you lose all of your rights to compensation. Generally speaking, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims in Florida is four years (or seven years in cases involving fraud).
However, Florida law makes an exception for medical malpractice claims involving children. To summarize very broadly, you have an extended period of time to pursue a claim (i.e., the claim must be filed before the child’s eighth birthday) if your child has suffered as a result of medical malpractice.
This may sound straightforward, but determining how the statute of limitations applies to your case is very complicated. Do not assume that time is on your side. Instead, contact a Florida medical malpractice lawyer as soon as you suspect that your child has suffered as a result of medical malpractice to ensure that you don’t leave your rights. In addition, time is of the essence when it comes to gathering the evidence you would need to build your case.
Common Types of Pediatric Medical Malpractice
While any type of medical treatment or procedure can result in medical malpractice, some types are more common than others. Here are some of the most common types of pediatric medical malpractice claims that arise:
- Birth injuries. Serious injuries can occur when the doctor or other medical staff fail to adequately monitor the baby’s vitals, fail to respond to signs of fetal distress, or use birthing instruments improperly. Many instances of medical malpractice result in a lack of blood or oxygen to the baby’s brain, resulting in serious conditions such as cerebral palsy and hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy.
- Misdiagnosis. Many pediatric medical malpractice claims arise from diagnostic errors. This can include failing to diagnose an illness or diagnosing the child with the wrong illness. As a result, this can lead to delays in your child getting the appropriate treatment, possibly increasing the severity of their illness or resulting in a permanent or life-threatening health condition. Misdiagnoses are a common cause of pediatric malpractice claims because many illnesses are difficult to diagnose in children.
- Medication errors. Because children are smaller, weigh less, and are not fully developed, prescribing the wrong medication or the wrong dosage can cause serious harm.
If you suspect that your child has suffered harm as a result of any of these issues, you should discuss your case with a Florida medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible. They can review what happened and determine whether you have a claim.
Common Medical Conditions That Give Rise to Pediatric Medical Malpractice Claims
As mentioned above, cerebral palsy and hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy are two indications of potential pediatric medical malpractice. Other health issues that could suggest your child is the victim of medical malpractice include the following:
- Appendicitis – Appendicitis is often misdiagnosed in children. If your child has suffered as a result of a ruptured appendix, you should discuss your case with a Florida medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible.
- Meningitis – Meningitis is also difficult to diagnose in a pediatric setting. When not treated in a timely fashion, it can cause severe health problems.
- Birth defects – Birth defects are often an indication that the mother has not received adequate prenatal care.
- Respiratory illnesses in newborns – These can deprive the baby’s brain of oxygen which can lead to a number of health issues.
- Pneumonia – Pneumonia is sometimes misdiagnosed or develops because the child did not receive adequate treatment. If your child has had severe pneumonia, you should talk to a Florida medical malpractice lawyer to determine whether you might have a malpractice claim.
Pediatric Malpractice Cases Have Unique Damages Claims
Depending on the nature of your child’s health problems, your claim for damages could be substantial. A Florida medical malpractice lawyer can determine which damages you are entitled to seek including the following:
- Compensation for your child’s pain and suffering
- Your current medical costs as well as future medical costs
- Current and future expenses for daily care
- Your child’s potential lost earnings
That said, it is important to remember that your claim may be subject to statutory caps on damages under Florida law. Your lawyer can provide you with an estimate of what your claim may be worth.
Talk to a Florida Medical Malpractice Lawyer Today
Pediatric medical malpractice cases can be challenging, but our firm has decades of experience in helping families get the compensation they deserve. To schedule a free consultation, contact us today to speak with a compassionate Florida medical malpractice lawyer who can help you rebuild your child’s future.