An Overview of Florida Medical Malpractice Laws

Injuries from medical malpractice in Florida? This article will help you understand the next steps to take for your injuries and damages.

If you or a loved one has sustained injuries at the hands of a doctor, nurse, nursing home worker, or another medical professional, you may be entitled to compensation. The circumstances of your case could give rise to a Florida medical malpractice claim.

Unfortunately, the legal definition of medical malpractice under Florinda law can be difficult to understand, as it has become somewhat murky. So how do you know whether you have a valid medical malpractice claim?

The medical malpractice attorneys at Abrahamson & Uiterwyk have over 100 collective years of experience fighting for the rights of injured victims throughout Florida.

We can help you answer this question and many more. In this article, we will discuss the standard for medical malpractice in Florida, what to do if you are injured, and where to go for help.

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What Constitutes Medical Malpractice in Florida

florida medical malpractice statute

There are four basic elements you need to prove in a Florida medical malpractice claim

  • The health care professional owed a duty to use an ordinary standard of care, skill, and treatment;
  • The health care professional breached that duty; 
  • You suffered harm or damages; and
  • The health care worker’s breach was the “proximate cause” of your damages. 

It may be difficult to prove that all four of these elements exist in your case. However, it is absolutely necessary, as you cannot win your medical malpractice case without proving the existence of all four.

While you can typically prove that you suffered damages and that a duty existed with little to no difficulty, the greatest hurdles to overcome will often be proving that the medical professional breached their duty of care and that this breach was the cause of your injuries.

Thus, it is important to have someone in your corner who knows what to look for and how to prove your case.

What You May Not Know About Medical Malpractice Laws in Florida

Proving a medical malpractice claim in Florida can be difficult. If you have never dealt with a medical malpractice claim before, you may not even know where to start. However, having a basic understanding of medical malpractice laws in Florida can help you improve your chances of success.

When Medical Malpractice Often Occurs

Medical malpractice is unfortunately all too common. People often believe that medical malpractice occurs only in hospital settings, but this is not necessarily the case.

Medical malpractice claims can arise in hospitals, nursing homes, and anywhere a healthcare provider has breached their duty of care to another, resulting in damages. However, this can be extremely difficult to prove and will almost always require the testimony of a medical expert witness.

The standard of care that Florida law requires all health care professionals to abide by is defined as, “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.”

This lengthy definition can be difficult to interpret and apply to the facts of your specific circumstances. However, below are some examples of situations in which medical malpractice claims routinely arise:

  • Improper or negligent administration of anesthesia; 
  • Prescription drug errors when providing a patient with an incorrect dosage or wrong medication entirely; 
  • Unsanitary conditions or equipment leading to infections; 
  • Surgical errors, such as incorrect incision site or leaving a foreign object inside the body; and
  • Misdiagnosis or failure to diagnose. 

Being able to recognize common instances of medical malpractice can help you identify whether you may have a valid claim. If any of the above happened to you or a loved one, contact us today so that we can evaluate your case.

What Damages Can I Pursue for Medical Malpractice in Florida?

If you can prove all four elements of your medical malpractice claim, you will be entitled to damages. In general, a victim in a medical malpractice case can recover compensatory damages that are designed to make them “whole.”. These are separated into two categories: economic and non-economic damages.

Economic damages are typically based on monetary losses incurred as a result of the malpractice These will include:

  • Past and future medical expenses;
  • Past and future lost wages; and
  • Loss of earning capacity.

It is critical to seek an accurate amount to cover all of your economic damages. This will allow you to fully and properly recover from your injuries.

In addition to economic damages, a victim in a medical malpractice case may receive compensation for their non-economic damages. Non-economic damages include compensation for:

  • Pain and suffering;
  • Permanent impairment or disfigurement;
  • Loss of consortium; and 
  • Loss of enjoyment of life. 

Whereas economic damages are typically easier to quantify, non-economic damages can be much more difficult to assign a monetary value to due to their subjective nature. However, victims can often recover an even larger amount for their non-economic damages than for their economic damages.

Thus, it is important to understand that these damages may exist so that you don’t miss out on any potential compensation you may be entitled to recover. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you assess your damages and fight to ensure you get what you deserve.

Recent Changes to Florida Medical Malpractice Law—Damage Caps

Florida’s medical malpractice statutes limit recovery for non-economic damages in most cases to $500,000 per claimant. However, where the medical professional’s malpractice resulted in the death or permanent vegetative state of the victim, the damage cap is extended to $1 million.

Despite these statutory limitations, the Florida Supreme Court recently rejected such caps of a victim’s non-economic damages, making Florida medical malpractice cases even more difficult to navigate.

In North Broward Hospital District v. Kalitan, 219 So. 3d 49 (Fla. 2017), the Florida Supreme Court held that these types of caps “arbitrarily reduce damage awards for plaintiffs who suffer the most drastic injuries.”

The court ultimately held that statutory caps on personal injury non-economic damages in a medical malpractice action were unconstitutional and violate the Florida Constitution’s equal protection clause. Thus, the decision effectively struck down any statutory limits on such damages.

While this is great news for victims of medical malpractice, the law is constantly changing. Accordingly, it is always advisable to speak with a lawyer before proceeding with any action to ensure there have not been any significant changes in the law.

Where to Go for Help With Your Medical Malpractice Claim

If you believe you may have a valid medical malpractice claim, it may be time to speak with an experienced attorney about your case. The benefits of having a medical malpractice attorney assisting with your case cannot be overstated.

An attorney can help you gather evidence, assess your claim, and advocate on your behalf. Simply stated, a lawyer can help you navigate your case and make a stressful and time-consuming process feel more manageable.

At Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, we understand that a medical malpractice claim can be one of the most difficult things that you may have had to deal with in your life.

Our experienced team of attorneys has decades of experience fighting for the rights of personal injury victims throughout Florida, and we want to help you, too.

Contact us today for your free consultation and see what we can do for you.

FAQ

Is a Florida Medical Malpractice Attorney Necessary? 

You do not necessarily need a medical malpractice attorney to begin your case. However, we would always recommend speaking to an attorney before proceeding. Because this is a complicated and ever-changing area of the law, an experienced professional can be a great asset who can help you fight to maximize your recovery.

I Did Not File a Claim After My Initial Injury, But It Has Since Become Worse—Can I Still File a Claim? 

Depending on when your injury originally occurred, you may be running out of time. Contact our law firm today to make sure you are still within the statute of limitations so that we can protect your rights. 

What If I Can’t Afford a Medical Malpractice Attorney? 

Depending on when your injury originally occurred, you may be running out of time. Contact our law firm today to make sure you are still within the statute of limitations so that we can protect your rights.

  • Call 24/7 - (800) 753-5203 request your free case review * Required fields
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