Defining Medical Malpractice

Medical Malpractice, sometimes referred to as medical negligence, occurs when a health care provider treats a patient in a manner that is below the professional standard of care and, as a result, the patient suffers harm. The “standard of care” is the level of care that a reasonably prudent health care professional, in the same field with similar training, would have provided in the same situation. Just because a doctor made a mistake or, a patient was unhappy with their care or the outcome, that doesn’t necessarily mean medical malpractice occurred.

Each medical malpractice case is unique and must be evaluated on its own facts and merits. There are certain elements our lawyers must evaluate before accepting your potential claim in order to be successful including, the maximum time that someone can wait before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. In Florida, the statute of limitations is two years which is shorter that the four year limitation period for most negligence claims. For your claim to have merit, your attorney must prove not only damages, but also liability and causation. Assuming your damages are serious enough to justify bringing a lawsuit, your lawyer must also determine if the treatment you received fell below the minimally acceptable standard of care and, that care caused you to suffer damage.

Under Florida Law, prior to filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, your attorney must hire one or more physicians as expert witnesses, in the same field of medicine as the defendant, to establish that the negligent conduct was the actual cause of your injuries. In addition, Florida Law requires that each defendant must be notified of the intent to initiate litigation. This is known as the Ninety-Day Presuit Period. Occasionally, a defendant admits liability or makes a settlement offer however, most of the time the defendant rejects the claim. After the presuit and discovery process is completed, the complaint can be filed.

People are often surprised to learn that Florida doctors are allowed to practice medicine without medical malpractice insurance. A term known as “going bare”. What this means is that patients injured as a result of a physician’s negligence could potentially be left with little or no compensation for their damages, medical bills and lost wages. Convincing a jury that a doctor committed malpractice is difficult but collecting from an uninsured doctor is even more difficult due to asset protection.

Medical malpractice claims are complex from a medical, legal, and procedural aspect which is the reason you want to hire an experienced medical malpractice attorney.

If you have any questions or concerns, please call us at 561-655-1990. The call is free and we look forward to helping.

By: Cynthia Mazzuto
Medical Malpractice, Paralegal
Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath