Overview of Medical Malpractice Claims in Florida
Our Panama City medical malpractice lawyer is proud to help injured victims and their families understand and navigate a claim for medical malpractice in Panama City and throughout Northern Florida. This post will provide answers to some basic questions that prospective clients have about this complex area of law.
What is medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when an injury or negative health outcome arises due to the failure of a doctor or other healthcare practitioner to provide care that meets the standards of good, acceptable medical practice. The standard compares the treatment provided to that accepted by the medical community. Both action and failure to act (such as failure to diagnose a condition or provide appropriate treatment) can give rise to a medical malpractice claim.
Who can bring a malpractice claim in Florida?
Most malpractice cases are brought by the affected patient. In some cases, family members may also have related claims. If the injured person is a minor or is unable to advocate on their own behalf, a representative may be appointed to act on the patient's behalf.
What does a claimant need to prove for a medical malpractice claim to be successful?
The plaintiff in a medical malpractice claim must show negligence (i.e. failure to meet the required standard of care), proximate cause (i.e. the failure led to the negative outcome claimed), and damages.
How long do I have to file a malpractice claim?
In Florida, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice is two years. The period begins at the time the patient (or a representative) knew or should have reasonably known that the injury occurred and that malpractice was the cause.
Is there anything that needs to be done before a medical malpractice claim can be filed?
Florida law has a specific notice requirement for medical malpractice claims that does not apply to most personal injury cases. The claimant must provide the potential defendant with 90 days written notice of the intent to file a malpractice suit. This notice must include a written affidavit from an expert who has reviewed the claim and found reasonable grounds for a medical malpractice claim. During the notice period, the potential defendant can review the claimant's medical files and ask for additional discovery.
What is the role of expert testimony in malpractice claims?
In most cases, a Florida medical malpractice claim requires the testimony of an expert in the medical arena. Expert testimony is used to explain the applicable standards of medical care. An expert witness is usually also necessary to show causation i.e. showing that the provider's action or inaction caused the injury to the patient.
Are there limits on damages that can be recovered in a medical malpractice claim?
Yes. In most cases, noneconomic damages in a Florida medical malpractice suit against a practitioner are limited to $500,000 per claimant. If the injury results in death or leaves the patient in a persistent vegetative state, the noneconomic award limit is $1,000,000.
If you believe you have a claim for medical malpractice against a Panama City doctor or other medical provider, please contact our office. Our team is available 24/7 to take your call and our injury attorney offers a free consultation to help you understand how the law applies to your unique case.