Medical Malpractice Lawyers Serving Hollywood
Generally, we share a fiduciary relationship with our medical doctors. A fiduciary relationship is one in which one party places special trust, confidence, and reliance on another.
This means that doctors must uphold their patients’ trust to provide the prevailing standard of care. Unfortunately, however, this is not always the case. As a result, doctors often make genuine mistakes or behave negligently while administering care.
When a medical practitioner acts negligently, and his or her action harms a patient, they may have engaged in medical malpractice. However, identifying medical malpractice is challenging and may require the experience and legal knowledge of Hollywood, FL, medical malpractice lawyers.
The importance of having legal representation cannot be overstated, and it is one crucial way to facilitate seeking financial compensation. Contact us at Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers if you or a loved one are a victim of medical malpractice.What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice happens when healthcare professionals fail to provide patients with the prevailing standard of care. It also covers omissions, lack of proper action, and giving the wrong treatment. Often these erroneous actions injure or kill a patient.
For a case to qualify as medical malpractice, the victim must have suffered from a medical error caused by the negligent or intentional action of the medical professional. However, not all errors or adverse outcomes result in a malpractice claim.
This is because medical treatments always have disclosed risks. Therefore, claiming malpractice might be complex if an injury results from a treatment-related danger. Here, injury refers to a new medical condition that results from negligence or worsening an existing illness.
A civil action can only succeed if it is proven that the doctor failed to warn the patient of the risk or intentionally failed to take precautions to mitigate a known risk.
Healthcare professionals who are commonly named as defendants in a medical malpractice claim include doctors, nurses, lab technicians, anesthesiologists, etc. A hospital can also be held liable for its medical staff's actions under the vicarious liability doctrine.
Sometimes identifying the proper parties to a malpractice claim can be difficult, especially when there is more than one liable party. Therefore, working with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer in Hollywood, Florida, is well-recommended.Types of Medical Malpractice Cases?
Medical errors cause more than 250,000 deaths in the United States yearly. These fatalities occur from different medical treatments, and most times, patients do not discover the harm done until weeks, months, or years after the occurrence.
Below are common types of medical malpractice claims.Failure to Diagnose a Serious Condition and Misdiagnosis
Two of the most common medical malpractice claims are failure to diagnose and misdiagnosis. Failure to diagnose means that the doctor failed to find what ailed the patient in time or did not identify it as a severe ailment, leading to additional harm.
Misdiagnosis means the doctor seemingly identified the cause of the patient’s illness. However, they gave a wrong diagnosis. This is common in medical conditions with similar or overlapping symptoms.
Examples of sicknesses with overlapping symptoms are multiple sclerosis, myalgic encephalomyelitis, and chronic fatigue syndrome. According to a report, an estimated 40,000 to 80,000 deaths occur yearly in U.S. hospitals related to misdiagnosis.
Additionally, an estimated 12 million Americans suffer a diagnostic error each year in a primary care setting — 33% of which result in severe or permanent damage or death. If you are a victim of a misdiagnosis, you can commence a claim for financial compensation.Surgical Errors
Another typical medical malpractice case is surgical errors. Surgeons are held to the highest standard of care in the medical field as they have to carefully operate on vital organs. A mistake during surgery can lead to the loss of an organ and, in worse cases, death.
In the United States, at least 4,000 surgical errors occur each year. Common examples of surgical errors include:
- Leaving a foreign object, e.g., scalpel, surgical clamp, gauze, etc., in the body
- Performing the wrong surgery
- Operating on the wrong body part
- Injuring a nerve during surgery
- Administering little or excessive anesthesia
Surgical errors can occur due to incompetence, fatigue, insufficient preoperative planning, improper work process, poor communication, neglect, and drugs or alcohol. Note that no two surgical errors are the same. Therefore, each case will be examined on its merits.Incorrect Treatment of a Medical Condition and Medication Error
Doctors sometimes give the wrong treatment to patients. For instance, if someone who doesn’t have cancer is treated for cancer, it would affect healthy vital organs. In such a case, the affected person can claim compensation.
Medication errors happen when doctors prescribe the wrong drugs to patients. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) receives more than 100,000 reports each year associated with suspected medication errors.
Also, preventable medication errors impact more than 7 million patients and cost almost $21 billion annually across all care settings. Medication errors can cause itches, rashes, skin disfigurement, and in some cases, severe injuries to organs or death.Birth Injuries
Giving birth to a baby should be joyful, but it is sometimes not the case. A newborn baby or the mother may suffer injuries during pregnancy, labor, or delivery due to a mistake by the doctor or nurse.
The most common type of birth injury is cerebral palsy, caused by a baby not receiving enough oxygen during the birth process. Others are facial paralysis, bruising or forceps marks, fractures, facial paralysis, caput succedaneum, and subconjunctival hemorrhage.What Should I Do After Suffering Medical Malpractice?
As a medical malpractice victim, you must take specific actions when attempting to reach a fair outcome. Here are steps to take if you believe you suffered from medical malpractice.Keep Your Medical Records
If the treatment you received caused injuries, ensure you have a copy of your medical records. Doctors rarely admit they made an error as it would affect their reputation.
If the hospital fails to release this document, you can apply by sending 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 on the Florida Board of Medicine website.
Your medical records serve for three purposes. Firstly, you can show your insurance company proof that you suffered injuries for them to potentially cover your medical treatment.
Secondly, you can show it to another medical professional to determine if your doctor upheld the prevailing standard of care. Thirdly, it is crucial proof of your claim, and your Hollywood, FL, medical malpractice lawyer can use it to commence the legal process.Contact an Experienced Medical Malpractice Lawyer
After securing your medical record, the next recommended thing to do is contact a Hollywood, Florida, medical malpractice lawyer. Keep in mind that medical malpractice cases are quite complex.
Your attorney will assess the facts to determine whether you can successfully sue for medical malpractice. If there is clear evidence of negligence, your lawyer will advise whether you should commence legal action. If your case is not eligible, they will likely tell you not to pursue a claim to avoid wasting time and money.Report the Malpractice to the Relevant Authority
The first agency to report the malpractice to is the Florida Board of Medicine. However, sometimes, victims fail to file reports for fear of not being believed. This is why you should secure your medical records and contact a lawyer.
An attorney can have the report delivered to the board on your behalf. Alternatively, you can report the malpractice to the American Medical Association. Either of these agencies can take disciplinary actions against the negligent medical practitioner. Evidence of their decision can serve as proof for your claim. First, however, ensure you make the report on time and within the time allowed by the Florida Statute of Limitations.Manage Your Condition
One claim we often see defendants make is that the injury the victims suffered would not have been so severe if they had adequately managed their condition. Therefore, you must continually take care of your health.
Go for regular checkups and keep a journal on changes in your body. Include details like day, date, month, and time. Also, go for every follow-up visit scheduled by your doctor, and take notes of post-operative care, recovery, and any setback.How Do I Prove Negligence in a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Every medical malpractice case is rooted in negligence. However, simply because you claim carelessness does not mean the court will grant compensation. You must show evidence to support your claim.
How do you prove negligence in a medical malpractice claim?
- Doctor-Patient Relationship
The first point is to establish a doctor-patient relationship. A doctor-patient relationship is the core element in the ethical principles of medicine. It develops when a physician tends to a patient’s medical needs via check-ups, diagnoses, and treatments in an agreeable manner.
Therefore, you cannot claim a doctor-patient relationship if a doctor never treated you. For instance, if you were at a hospital fundraiser and overheard doctors discussing a new medication for your illness, taking that drug, and having an adverse reaction, you cannot blame the doctors involved in the private discussion.
This is because you never consulted them directly or became registered as their patient. Instead, you acted on your own without creating a doctor-patient relationship. As a result, the law is likely not in your favor.
- Duty of Care
Next, you must show that the doctor owed you a duty of care. This amount differs from case to case. For example, the duty of care for a surgical patient differs from a patient that is pregnant.
- Breach of the Duty of Care
In medical malpractice cases, the law examines the breach of the prevalent standard of care. Under Florida Statutes Section 766.106 (1), “the prevailing professional standard of care for a given health care 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 health care providers.”
Therefore, the medical practitioner’s actions would be examined based on what another doctor with the same qualifications and years of experience would do in the same circumstances. If the other physician would have acted the same way, there would have possibly been no breach. However, if their actions had been different, there could be a breach, which leads to negligence.
You must also prove that the medical practitioner’s actions caused your injuries. Sometimes, although rare, a doctor’s negligence may not be the direct cause of injuries.
As such, you must be able to link your injury to their action. Without proving causation, you will be unable to recover compensation.
Finally, you have to show damages. This refers to how your health suffered from the negligence and any financial losses resulting from the malpractice. Note that you cannot claim monetary compensation if the malpractice did not cause loss, either on medical treatment or in some other way. A settlement may cover your psychological and emotional injuries.What Compensation Can You Receive for Medical Malpractice in Hollywood, Florida?
Under Florida law, medical malpractice victims are entitled to compensatory and punitive damages.Compensatory Damages
Compensatory damages, as the name implies, are meant to compensate and return you to the state you were in before the harm. This is divided into economic and non-economic damages.
Economic damages compensate for the finances spent treating the injury and other financial losses. They are the easiest to calculate as they have a fixed dollar value. First, you must show the money spent with receipts and other financial documentation.
Non-economical damages do not compensate you for money spent or lost. Instead, it pays for psychological injuries and other non-tangible losses. These damages are difficult to quantify, and you can estimate how you should calculate your damages with the help of a Hollywood, FL, medical malpractice lawyer. Examples of economic and non-economic damages include:
- Medical bills
- Costs of medical equipment
- Cost of physical therapy, if needed
- Emotional anguish
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Lost wages and loss of earning capacity
Punitive damages are not compensatory. Rather, the court may award it to punish a willfully negligent or malicious defendant and deter them and others from similar conduct in the future. In Florida, there is a limit to how much you can claim for punitive damages.
You can potentially obtain up to three times the amount of compensatory damages, or $500,000, whichever amount is higher. Therefore, if you are awarded $1 million in compensatory damages, you will not receive more than $3 million in punitive damages. However, if compensatory damages are less than a million and less than $500,000, you will receive $500,000 because it is the higher amount.When Should I File a Medical Malpractice Claim?
As previously mentioned, you need to commence a medical malpractice claim within the time stipulated by the Florida Statute of Limitations. The standard period to begin a claim is two years from the day of the malpractice. If you fail to file an action within that time, the case becomes statute-barred, meaning you cannot bring it before a court without an exception.
The time might be extended to four years if you did not discover the injury in time. Another exception to the two-year rule is for cases of fraud or concealment or if the malpractice involved a minor.Do I Need a Hollywood, FL, Medical Malpractice Lawyer to File a Claim?
Although there are personal injury cases where you might not need legal representation, medical malpractice cases are not one of them that is recommended to tackle alone. These claims are complex, so you must understand the medical and legal aspects.
This might be complicated, especially if the injury led to hospitalization. Therefore, it is usually best to leave the work to experts. At Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers, our team has the experience and knowledge to help you seek compensation through a medical malpractice claim.
We will handle the case from the investigation to filing, negotiating, and trial representation. We also can provide medical experts to testify on your behalf and gather the evidence needed to prove your claim.How Much Does a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Cost?
Medical malpractice attorneys typically work on a contingency fee basis. This means we earn 33% to 40% of the amount recovered as financial compensation. However, the percentage does not cover legal costs for filing and expert witnesses.Are You a Victim of Medical Malpractice? Let Us Help You
At Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers, we offer compassionate and expert representation to all our clients. Contact us at (561) 800-8000 for a free case review.