Who can be sued in a Florida medical malpractice case?
In most cases, the defendant in medical malpractice claims and cases will be the medical provider, typically, a physician, nurse, or other medical provider—such as a chiropractor. It’s very important that you contact legal counsel to have your case evaluated so that the proper defendant can be identified.
If you or a loved one was injured due to the careless or reckless behavior of a medical provider or care professional, you have legal options. By working with a well-versed malpractice lawyer, you could have your legal rights explained by an attorney who is familiar with each step of the claims process.
Common Types of Malpractice
There can be many different types of medical malpractice, from misdiagnosis and delayed diagnosis, to something going wrong in a medical or surgical procedure. Essentially, the doctor who is involved in the medical procedure itself will be the primary defendant. Furthermore, if surgery has taken place, complications could arise following the surgery while the patient is in the hospital in the recovery area. Therefore, if follow-up care is not done appropriately, the patient can suffer an injury or worsened condition. In this scenario, the nurses who are employed by the hospital may also have made or committed a medical mistake and, therefore, the hospital itself that employs the nurses can be sued in a Florida medical malpractice case.
In other circumstances, a Radiologist who read an x-ray, MRI films, or CT-scans and missed obvious problems on those readings could cause a patient to have gone on for months or even years without being told of a significant medical problem. Here, the radiologist could be named in a lawsuit. Simply put, many different types of medical specialists, doctors, and medical employees can be named in a Florida medical malpractice case. Because of this, consulting with an attorney early on might help an injured claimant to timely identify who might be held responsible for their injuries.
Proving a Doctor Has Made a Mistake in Florida
The common component to a medical malpractice claim—and the most important—is establishing that the patient has suffered an injury that was not anticipated, or that the patient was not properly advised of any and all complications prior to undergoing a medical procedure or surgery. Once that injury has occurred and the patient believes that they were wrongfully injured, one has to determine, in conjunction with their attorney, whether the “standard of care” was violated by a medical professional who can then be sued in a Florida medical malpractice case.
In that scenario, it must be shown that a doctor, a nurse, or another medical professional failed to act within the standard of care that is applied to any doctor in that same area, under similar conditions. For instance, if a doctor or medical professional during a surgery failed to adequately remove all of the sponges that were used during the surgery itself, it must be shown that the standard of care would be to make sure an appropriate count of the number of sponges that were used during that surgery—and that another doctor in a similar situation would abide by this standard. Simply put, the two most important components are to have an injury and to be able to show that the doctor or the medical professional did not act in connection with the appropriate standard of care.
However, these cases typically take longer in Florida than a motor vehicle accident case or a standard negligence case, such as for a faulty product or trip and fall. From the beginning, a lawsuit cannot even be filed until the statutory pre-suit process has been initiated against the potential defendants. In fact, an individual cannot even initiate that pre-suit process until the attorney has made a good faith determination in consultation with a licensed expert that medical malpractice—or a violation of the standard of care—has occurred.
Once the attorney makes that determination in consultation with an expert, the pre-suit process can then be initiated. Before one even gets to the point where a lawsuit can be filed, however, many things have to occur and many statutory requirements have to be fulfilled by the attorney. Once the lawsuit has been filed, medical malpractice cases involve more depositions and more discovery than would be involved in most other negligence cases, which takes additional time in order to complete.
Demonstrating Injuries for a Malpractice Lawsuit
The most important evidence that a person needs before determining who can be sued for a medical malpractice case in Florida is to have a significant injury. These lawsuits can be very costly, meaning it is imperative that one has a significant enough injury to proceed forward with a claim. Furthermore, once they have an injury, they have to determine if the injury was caused by a mistake made by the doctor, as opposed to a known complication of the surgical procedure itself.
In order to do that, one needs to preserve as many documents as they can to demonstrate their particular injury. This can be done either by way of photographs, notes, or medical records that they have in their possession. These documents should be given to their attorney, who could help to evaluate the matter. In fact, a proactive lawyer could help to procure the necessary documentation to demonstrate a potential claimant’s injuries.
Once all the medical records have been gathered, an expert physician in the field of the suspected defendant doctor will review the records for a particular injury and determine whether it occurred as a result of malpractice. If so, that expert would have to certify in an Affidavit that the standard of care was, in fact, violated by a doctor or care professional, based upon the medical records themselves.
What Types of Compensation are Available for Medical Errors?
The types of compensation that are available to an injured party for a medical error lawsuit are similar to the damages that one would be able to recover in a more typical negligence case. For instance, these might include:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Future medical expenses
- Future lost wages
- Intangible damages or non-economic damages which cannot be calculated to an exact measure:
- Pain and suffering
- The loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life
What is the Statute of Limitations to File a Malpractice Claim in Florida?
In almost all instances, the Statute of Limitations is much shorter than they are for typical negligence cases. In fact, this can be even shorter if a governmental entity is involved, such as a hospital or someone under the employment of a physician. While the courts are likely to prohibit a lawsuit that is not filed in a timely manner, certain exceptions might exist to this deadline in Florida. For example, if an injured party was unaware that they were a victim of malpractice, the statute of limitations might be extended. However, even if a person believes they are too late to file a medical malpractice claim, they might still benefit from consulting an experienced Florida attorney for help.
Common Mistakes During Malpractice Cases
One of the top mistakes in filing a medical malpractice case is waiting too long to consult with an attorney, due to the limited statute of limitations mentioned above. However, another common mistake is not preserving the appropriate documentation regarding an injury and the timeline of how an injury occurred, as well as how any symptoms are connected with malpractice.
Essentially, a doctor will have particular medical records that will itemize what they believe to have occurred. If an injured patient believes that these medical records do not tell the complete story, the patient will have to have their own evidence to counter whatever the attorney for the defendant will be asserting.
Along with these potential errors, there are countless others that a claimant might be able to avoid if they consult with a dedicated malpractice lawyer. A seasoned lawyer could help to follow the pre-suit procedures, gather the necessary evidence, and help a claimant through each step of the claims process.
Seeking Legal Counsel to Identify Who Can be Sued in a Florida Medical Malpractice Case
It is vitally important to consult with an attorney as early as possible when an injury has occurred in connection with a doctor’s visit, a medical procedure, or a surgery in order to determine who can be sued in a Florida medical malpractice case. The State of Florida has a very strict Statute of Limitations on these cases, and, if this deadline is violated, an injured patient can be left without any legal recourse to sue or file a claim for any event that has occurred.
Unfortunately, it is almost impossible for a non-lawyer to be able to follow the pre-suit procedures that are essential to filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Florida. To schedule a consultation, call a legal professional at Emerson Straw today.