We expect our doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals to have our best interest in mind. So, what do we do when we’re injured by the very people in charge of our healthcare? Accidental or intentional injuries caused by a healthcare professional or due to faulty medical facilities can cause a lifetime of distress. You could be burdened with hospital bills, physical therapy and have a decreased quality of life because of another’s negligent mistakes.
It’s important those who have injured you are held responsible. If you or someone you know has undergone medical malpractice, then it’s imperative you contact an experienced personal injury attorney. With the help of an attorney you can file a lawsuit against the responsible party and receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Do what’s best for you and your family’s future by contacting experienced legal representation.
Miami Attorney Explains Medical Malpractice in Florida
Patients allow healthcare professionals to perform procedures that often put their life in another’s hands. When a medical professional doesn’t meet the standard of care and you’re injured as a result that means you could be entitled to a monetary settlement for your damages. To learn more, we recommend you contact an experienced attorney at Abrams Justice Trial Attorneys.
The attorneys at Abrams Justice Trial Attorneys understand how overwhelming it can be to handle a legal issue when you’re in the process of recovery. That is why we want to assist you in any way we can. Contact the attorneys at Abrams Justice Trial Attorneys now by dialing (305) 709-0880. We can set up a free consultation to discuss your case in detail.
Abrams Justice Trial Attorneys represents people throughout the greater Miami-Dade county including Coral Gables, Miami, Hialeah, Homestead, Kendall, and Doral.
Overview of Medical Malpractice in Florida
- Pre-Trial Requirements for Medical Malpractice
- How Long Do I Have to File for Medical Malpractice in Florida?
- Does Florida Have Recovery Caps?
- Additional Resources
Pre-Trial Requirements for Filing a Medical Malpractice Case
Medical malpractice cases in Florida can be particularly complicated compared to other kinds of civil cases. This is because Florida, as in most states, requires the plaintiff to comply with several procedural requirements before filing for medical malpractice. The purpose of Florida’s protocol is to ensure all medical malpractice claims carry some legitimacy.
Plaintiffs cannot simply file a medical malpractice claim as you would with a car accident or other personal injury case. In Florida, you must send a “notice of intent to initiate litigation” first. The notice implies to the defendant that the claimant wants to pursue legal action eventually once they’ve completed all the requirements set forth by Florida law.Before a plaintiff can even send a notice, however, they must first conduct a pre-suit investigation. The investigation is to determine whether there are reasonable grounds to believe the defendant was negligent during the plaintiff’s treatment and if that negligence was the reason they were injured.
To do this, the plaintiff must corroborate these allegations with an “affidavit of expert,” meaning a qualified medical expert must verify the accusations. Credentials to being a qualified medical expert can be found under Florida Statute 766.202(6).
Prior to filing a claim, the plaintiff must send this “notice of intent to initiate litigation” to each prospective defendant, meaning any healthcare professional or entity that caused their injury. The notice must include the following:
- List of healthcare providers that have treated the plaintiff for the injuries stemming from the medical malpractice;
- List of all healthcare providers who have seen the plaintiff in the last two years prior to the medical malpractice incident; and
- Copies of medical records accompanied by the signature of an expert medical witness on an “affidavit of merit” form
After the plaintiff has sent the appropriate information there is a 90-day waiting period. No suit can be filed within this period or it will be barred by the court. During this lapse, the defendant has a chance to conduct a pre-suit investigation into the claims. If an insurer or self-insurer is representing the defendant, then their procedure can include one or more of the following:
- Internal review by a qualified claims adjuster;
- Creation of a panel of a qualified medical negligence attorney, a health care provider trained in that medical field, and a qualified claims adjuster;
- Make a contractual agreement with the state or local professional society of health care providers who maintain a medical review committee; and
- Any other procedure that fairly evaluates the claim
At the end of the period the defendant must answer the claim with one of the following:
- A settlement or offer;
- Rejection of the claim; or
- Admit liability and make an offer to arbitrate the injuries the plaintiff has gone through
If the defendant fails to reply within 90 days, then the court will view it as a rejected claim.
In addition to the procedure above, the plaintiff must also deliver to each named health care provider an “authorization for release of protected health information.” The document allows each provider access to the plaintiff’s health records so they can investigate the allegations of medical malpractice. If the authorization isn’t sent along with the pre-suit notice, then the notice and case will be considered void.
How Long Do I Have to File for Medical Malpractice?
Before you attempt to file for medical malpractice, it’s important you know what the statute of limitations are. A statute of limitations is a deadline for plaintiffs to file a claim within an allotted time period. The purpose of a statute of limitations is to decrease needless lawsuits and to save the integrity of the evidence involved.
Florida allows plaintiffs to file a medical malpractice case within two years from the date the injury occurred or was discovered. The “discovery rule” does allow plaintiffs to have some wiggle room with Florida’s statute of limitations. If the injury wasn’t discovered until months or even years later, then the plaintiff can still file for medical malpractice within two years of them realizing the injury stemmed from a healthcare professional or entity. However, the time period to discover injuries is limited to four years.
Minors who are injured by medical malpractice can have their parents or guardian file a lawsuit at any time before their eighth birthday. It’s important to note that the 90-day pre-suit investigation period is not exempt from the statute of limitations. Since there has been no claim filed yet, the statute of limitations is tolled during the 90-day period or any other pre-suit extension that occurs before a claim is filed.
Does Florida Have Recovery Caps for Medical Malpractice?
If you successfully win your lawsuit, then the court may grant you a monetary award. The sum of money will represent any damages you’ve endured since you were injured. These damages include the following:
- Economic damages such as wages, loss of future earnings, or medical bills;
- Non-Economic Damages which include nonfinancial losses such as pain and suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, mental anguish, and disfigurement; and
- Punitive Damages aren’t meant to compensate you for your injury but are instead awarded to punish the defendant for their behavior. You must prove by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant was guilty of intentional misconduct or gross negligence to obtain a punitive damage award.
Florida differs from other states because it places damage caps on different medical malpractice defendants. Lawsuits brought against a medical practitioner can only be awarded $500,000 up to $1,000,000 for non-economic damages. Non-practitioner corporate health care defendants have a cap for non-economic damages of $750,000 up to $1,500,000. Punitive damages cap at three times the amount of the award itself or $500,000, whichever is greater.
National Medical Malpractice Advocacy – Visit the official website for NMMA, otherwise known as the National Medical Malpractice Advocacy. Access their site to learn more about how they advocate for medical malpractice reform, educate their local communities and more.
Florida’s Medical Malpractice Laws – Visit the official website for Online Sunshine, a collection of Florida’s state laws. Access the legislation to learn more about medical malpractice laws, procedures, and other related torts matters.
Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Miami-Dade County, Florida
If you or someone you know has been injured due to medical malpractice, then it’s imperative you contact an experienced personal injury attorney. At Abrams Justice Trial Attorneys, our attorneys have the experience and knowledge you need to get ahead in your medical malpractice case.
Our practice has been representing victims of negligence for years and we want to help you. Contact us now at (305) 709-0880 to learn more about us and our firm. We can further discuss your case and strategize the best way to tackle your claim.
Abrams Justice Trial Attorneys represents people throughout the greater Monroe County area including Key West, Key Largo, Marathon, Tavernier and Islamorada.
This article was last updated on August 16, 2019.