Fort Lauderdale Medical Malpractice Lawyers
There are more than 250,000 deaths yearly from medical errors in the United States. Doctors, as most professionals, are prone to mistakes. However, there are cases when the error derives from negligence or willful conduct.
In these cases, the law assumes the presence of medical malpractice or negligence (when merited). Therefore, a victim of a doctor’s negligence actions is entitled to file a personal injury case against a medical professional or institution. However, commencing a suit requires the legal skills that you can benefit from with a Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice lawyer.
There are several benefits from hiring our services at Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers. Contact us today to learn about the various ways we can help you.What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice involves a healthcare practitioner neglecting to provide appropriate treatment to a patient. It can also consist of failing to take appropriate action or giving substandard treatment that harms, injures, or kills a patient. This definition extends to doctors, nurses, lab technicians, etc.
Although the most common reason for medical malpractice claims is an error, not all medical mistakes amount to negligence. As a result, people cannot always hold a medical professional responsible for the harm they suffered. For a doctor to be liable for an injury or death, it is crucial to establish that they deviated from the prevailing standard of care.
Florida law states that the “prevailing professional standard of care for a given healthcare provider shall be that level of care, skill, and treatment which, in light of all relevant surrounding circumstances, is recognized as acceptable and appropriate by reasonably prudent similar healthcare providers.”
Suppose a general surgeon forgot a foreign object in a patient’s body during an appendix operation. Additionally, assume that the surgeon has seven years of experience and has conducted about 50 similar procedures. The question, therefore, becomes if another doctor with a similar background would make the same mistake.
If so, the doctor would not be liable for malpractice. But if the doctor deviates from this standard of care, then the surgeon can be deemed negligent and face a personal injury claim or lawsuit. You can determine if a doctor acted negligently with the expertise of a Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice lawyer. You should always consider contacting an attorney before filing a claim.Types of Medical Malpractice Claims
Yearly, there are about 15,000 to 19,000 medical malpractice lawsuits in the United States. Claims will vary from case to case, including:Failure to Diagnose
Failure to diagnose is the most common type of medical malpractice claim. This happens when a doctor negligently fails to give a diagnosis for an illness, causing harm or death to the patient. For instance, suppose a car accident victim suffered a brain injury, and the doctor failed to run a test that could diagnose the wound.
As a result, the doctor could not diagnose the brain injury, resulting in the victim falling into a coma. This failure could be deemed medical malpractice, and the doctor may be held responsible to the victim or their legal beneficiaries if the person dies.Surgical Errors
A surgical error is a preventable mistake during surgery. Unfortunately, there are about 4,000 surgical errors yearly in the United States, the most common being operating on the wrong surgical site. Generally, all surgical procedures come with a certain level of risk, which is why patients sign consent forms beforehand.
However, such forms only discuss known surgical risks and do not cover surgical errors. Other mistakes can stem from:
- Surgeon’s incompetence
- Improper work process
- Insufficient preoperative planning
- Poor communication
- Operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Neglect and defective equipment
Common examples of surgical errors include:
- Causing injury to nerves leading to blood loss
- Administering too much or too little anesthesia
- Operating on the wrong organ or making an incision in the wrong location
- Forgetting medical equipment such as a scalpel or sponge in the patient’s body
- Operating on the wrong patient
If you are the victim of a surgical error, our medical malpractice attorneys in Fort Lauderdale can help you seek compensation from the at-fault party (by appointment only).Misdiagnosis
Unlike failure to diagnose, misdiagnosis involves being told you have an illness that you do not have. Often, it results from two conditions having similar symptoms. For example, babesiosis is often missed or misdiagnosed as malaria or flu.
According to a report, approximately 12 million adults seeking outpatient care in the United States are misdiagnosed yearly. The danger with misdiagnosis is that we may end up paying medical bills that could have been avoided if not for an error. Additionally, there’s pain and suffering caused by the wrong diagnosis as the illness worsens.Birth Injuries
A birth injury happens during childbirth. It often manifests as physical injuries and affects the mother and the baby. For newborn babies, the wound could be a fracture or a bruise. In addition, mothers may suffer vagina tears, post-partum hemorrhage, or a ruptured uterus.
Other errors that lead to birth injuries are:
- Inadequate prenatal care
- Failure to diagnose complications
- Wrongly using assistive devices that cause cerebral palsy or brachial plexus injuries
- Performing unnecessary C-section on the mother
- Not performing a C-section early enough or in an emergency
- Failure to monitor the baby and the mother during labor
- Anesthesia errors
In extreme cases, a birth injury can lead to the infant needing life-long care. This would result in expensive medical bills you may be unable to handle. As a result, we highly advise that you exercise your right to seek financial compensation.Negligent Failure to Treat
When doctors do not fail to diagnose or misdiagnose, they might fail to provide appropriate treatment. This sometimes happens when a doctor is overwhelmed with work or prioritizes profits over their patient’s wellbeing. As a result, they might discharge a patient too early, fail to provide follow-up care, or conduct a necessary test.How Do I Prove Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is quite challenging to prove because it involves a lot of technicalities. Therefore, merely alleging it does not mean you will get compensation.
Under the 2021 Florida Statutes Title XLV Chapter 766 Section 1, the claimant has the “burden of proving by the greater weight of evidence that the alleged actions of the healthcare provider represented a breach of the prevailing professional standard of care for that healthcare provider.”
Section 2 (a) states that “if the injury is claimed to have resulted from the negligent affirmative medical intervention of the healthcare provider, the claimant must, in order to prove a breach of the prevailing professional standard of care, show that the injury was not within the necessary or reasonably foreseeable results of the surgical, medicinal, or diagnostic procedure constituting the medical intervention.
This is the case if the intervention from which the injury is alleged to have resulted was carried out in accordance with the prevailing professional standard of care by a reasonably prudent similar healthcare provider.”
In addition to the above, you must establish:
- The existence of a doctor-patient relationship
- The duty of the care
- The breach of the duty of care and the injuries caused
- The damages suffered
Since a doctor’s reputation is on the line, you must establish all of the above to win a medical negligence case. Proving that the medical provider failed to provide the standard of care is particularly difficult and requires expert witnesses.
Florida law is strict as to who qualifies as an expert witness. Section 5 of the 2021 Florida Statutes Title XLV Chapter 766 provides that “a person may not give expert testimony concerning the prevailing professional standard of care unless the person is a healthcare provider who holds an active and valid license and conducts a complete review of the pertinent medical records.”
Also, the person must meet the following criteria:
- Specialize in the same specialty as the healthcare provider against whom or on whose behalf the testimony is offered; and
- Have devoted professional time during the three years immediately preceding the date of the occurrence that is the basis for the action.
Our skilled medical malpractice lawyers can help you contact the right experts for your claim.What Type of Evidence Do I Need to Prove a Medical Malpractice Case?
In civil cases, the general rule is that the person who claims a thing exists must prove its existence. One fundamental way of doing this is through evidence, especially documentary evidence. While there are different kinds of proof you can present to establish your claim, we narrowed it down to the following:
- Medical records
- Healthcare policies and regulations
- Video evidence
- An expert witness's written or oral statement
- Records of damages suffered
- Diagnostic test results
- Written prescription medication
- Testimony of the victim and other witnesses
In cases where there are no witnesses, the evidence needed is the one that speaks for itself. This follows the legal doctrine of res ipsa loquitur. An excellent example is forgetting a surgical sponge in a patient's body and operating again to bring it out. The presence of the foreign body speaks of the surgeon’s negligence.How Do I File a Fort Lauderdale Medical Malpractice Claim?
If you believe you are a victim of a medical malpractice claim and want to file an action against the negligent doctor, there are essential steps to take:Talk to a Medical Malpractice Lawyer
As previously mentioned, not all medical errors or treatment complications amount to malpractice. Therefore, your claim might not hold out when placed on the scale of justice. This is why it is recommended to speak with a lawyer before tackling your case.
After you explain the facts of the case to an attorney, they will offer legal guidance and advice about what you should do next.
It is noteworthy that you should not just hire any lawyer who handles civil matters. You should find a personal injury lawyer who specializes in medical malpractice. Hiring an attorney without the necessary knowledge and experience can jeopardize your chances of a fair outcome.Obtain Copies of Your Medical Record
You need medical records to show proof of medical malpractice. It is a crucial piece of evidence, so you or your attorney should obtain a copy before filing suit. In addition, due to the HIPPA laws on patient privacy, you should fill out a HIPPA consent form authorizing the hospital or treatment center to release your records to your lawyer.
It is best to obtain a medical record copy before visiting a law firm. This is because the lawyer needs to review the content to determine if there was malpractice. According to the Florida Board of Medicine, to apply for a copy of your medical record, send a written request via certified mail to the last known address of the physician (you can find a physician's last known address on their Practitioner Profile).Notify the Healthcare Provider
The next step is notifying the healthcare provider that you want to commence legal action against their institution or staff member. Such notification sometimes prompts the affected medical practitioner to make a settlement offer through their insurer.
It is best to hire a medical malpractice lawyer to handle the notification to the healthcare provider to avoid having your statements misconstrued.What Compensation Can I Seek for Medical Malpractice?
There are three damages available to the victim of medical malpractice. They include the following:General Damages
General damages cover the costs of a patient’s suffering. Such costs have no fixed dollar value, so they are deemed intangible. Examples of this compensation include:
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Pain and suffering (physical and mental)
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of companionship
- Emotional distress
- Disfigurement and scarring, etc.
To seek general damages, you must show how the injury affected you mentally and prove the pain and suffering you endured. Since there is sometimes no tangible proof, it can be difficult to prove these damages. However, you can establish general damages with expert witnesses to show how the harm affected you.Special Damages
Special damages cover the quantifiable losses from medical malpractice. These losses have a fixed dollar value, meaning the victim can get the exact amount lost. Examples of special damages are:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity
- Cost of expert witness
- Cost of medical equipment
- Out-of-pocket expenses, etc.
If the victim dies, special damages can cover funeral and burial expenses.Punitive Damages
There are instances when punitive damages are awarded. This is usually when the healthcare provider was willfully or maliciously negligent. Courts award punitive damages to punish the defendant for such behavior and to deter them and others from similar conduct in the future.
Florida law limits the amount courts can award as punitive damages to $500,000 or three times the number of compensatory (general and special) damages. The law serves to regulate the difference between both types of compensation.How Much Can I Be Offered as Settlement?
There is no fixed settlement amount for medical malpractice lawsuits as each unique case is decided on its merits. However, as we’ve seen in our years of practice, several factors affect how much will be covered.
They include the following:
- The severity of the harm suffered
- The number of the liable parties
- Expert testimony on pain and suffering
- The amount of special, general, and punitive damages
- The claim’s factual accuracy
- The nature and the extent of the malpractice
- Legal costs
- The presence of mitigating and aggravating factors
As soon as you identify malpractice, it’s recommended to immediately contact a lawyer. A lawyer can determine if you have a valid claim and whether you are within the Statute of Limitations.
Before hiring a lawyer, ensure they are experienced, tenacious, compassionate, humble, and skilled. Their values and your own should also align, so they should be excellent communicators. The lawyer you hire should also have enough time to dedicate to your case and consult you before making crucial decisions.How Long Do I Have to File a Medical Malpractice Case in Fort Lauderdale?
In Florida, the Statute of Limitations for medical malpractice cases is two years for the cause of action. There is a 4-year Statute of Repose and a 7-year maximum cap for claims involving concealment, fraud, or intentional misrepresentation by a prospective defender healthcare provider.Schedule a Complimentary Consultation With Our Experienced Fort Lauderdale Medical Malpractice Lawyers
Are you or a loved one a victim of medical malpractice? If so, you should not sit on your right to seek compensation. Time is of the essence in cases like this, so contact our legal team immediately.
At Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers, we offer compassionate representation to our clients and advocate for them to seek the compensation they deserve. Contact us at (561) 800-8000 to book a free consultation.