Florida Medical Malpractice Guide

Florida Medical Malpractice GuideThe Florida Medical Malpractice Guide was created by Paul Boone Law to help residents who have been injured by medical malpractice obtain maximum compensation for their claim.

What is Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice can be categorized by the wrongdoing or failing to treat with the standard of care by a medical professional. You’re likely going to experience some unwanted symptoms and suffering if you are a victim of medical malpractice. Here are some examples of the most common cases of medical malpractice:

Sarah takes blood pressure medicine. She heads to the pharmacy to get a refill. Little does she know the pharmacist filled her pill bottle with a very similar medication but it was not her blood pressure medication. It was Parkinson’s medication. She starts taking it and doesn’t think much of the symptoms at first; several weeks later her blood pressure is way off what it should be and she has a lot of unwanted symptoms. Through discovery she realizes that there was a mistake in her medication. This would be a pharmaceutical error medical malpractice case.

Andrew goes into surgery to get his appendix out. While he’s under, the surgeon gets the wrong information for Andrew’s surgery and ends up thinking that he is in for a leg amputation. This type of surgical mistake, while very rare, is very real for some people. It is a horrific reality for those who are a victim of this type of medical malpractice.

Bonnie goes into the emergency room with complaints of chest pain and shortness of breath. The doctors in the emergency room do not check her for a heart attack or stroke and they send her off with anxiety medication because they believe that she was having a panic attack. Later that night, she suffers another heart attack and passes away. This would be a missed diagnosis that also is going to end up being a wrongful death medical malpractice case.

The list of possible medical malpractice claims are:

  • Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis
  • Surgical errors
  • Medical product liability
  • Birth Injury

Any type of medical malpractice can be a traumatic experience and can devastate the lives of the victims. The only way to know for sure if what happened to you was certainly a medical malpractice case is to contact our Jacksonville medical malpractice lawyers and sit down during a free consultation to go over the details of what happened to you. Paul Boone will be able to tell you whether or not to pursue legal action based on what happened to you.

While every medical malpractice case is different from another, they do have one thing in common: these injuries and damages could have been avoided had this medical care professional acted differently. You might not have a child with cerebral palsy had your delivering team act differently. You might not have lost your loved one had their doctor done something better that they should have known to do.

Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice in Florida

Every state has its own statute of limitations. The term “statute of limitations” has to do with the amount of time in which your case is legally eligible for compensation. What that really means is how long you have before you would be turned away by a lawyer to get the justice you deserve. In Florida, you would typically have for years for an injury case to bring your claim and seek justice; however, medical malpractice works a little differently. It is generally a harder case to win if it’s a medical malpractice claim. They give you only two years to bring your claim.

A medical malpractice claim also requires that you put the medical care professional on notice of your case within 90 days of your injury. That is an incredibly short amount of time, so you do not want to delay. You need to act as quickly as you possibly can the second you noticed that there was medical malpractice involved in your suffering. The law also requires you to have an affidavit that is provided by a separate medical care professional who can attest to the fact that the alleged liable party in your medical malpractice claim indeed was at fault for what happened to you.

We strongly urge you to reach out the moment you believe that you may have a case. While not everything that happens in a hospital or medical setting that goes wrong is going to be a medical malpractice claim, it is better to know for sure whether or not you should be bringing a claim as soon as you possibly can because missing out on your justice is not something that we want you to have to suffer through. Call our Jacksonville medical malpractice lawyers as soon as you possibly can. We want to treat you like a priority and treat you like someone who is really in need of justice.

How Medical Malpractice Compensation Works in Florida

Please understand that if you do have a case and you are bringing it to get the justice you are entitled to you are only given one shot. If it settles and you think down the line after everything is said and done that you didn’t get the justice you deserved, you can’t go back and ask for a different result. You need to take this one and only shot to fight with all you have to get the justice you deserve. Our Jacksonville medical malpractice lawyers don’t take this lightly. We know how much your justice means to you and we don’t give up the fight until the compensation award fully and fairly reflects the damages that you have had to suffer through.

Having a lawyer by your side ensures that you are paired up with someone who has successfully handled cases like this previously and knows all of the twist and turns that are coming your way.

Compensation is made up of the wages you lost from having to miss work, the bills from your emergency room or doctor’s visits, or anything else that cost you money to heal your injuries and damages, including any expected costs of future medical care, pain and suffering, mental health issues such as anxiety depression and PTSD, disfigurement in some cases ,and so on. These are considered to be severe damages.

In Florida, there used to be a cap on how much you could collect in damages. Fortunately, that was recently deemed unconstitutional because it prevented victims of medical malpractice from getting the compensation that they deserved. Not every case is going to be above what the cap used to be, but in the instances where the damages superseded the compensation, it was unconstitutional for state law to tell that victim that they were not going to get the justice that they deserved.

In 2017, your non-economic damages such as mental anguish, pain and suffering anxiety and depression would have been capped at $500,000. If you were bringing a claim for wrongful death medical malpractice or a case where a loved one was left in a vegetative state, the cap was $1 million.

With this cap deemed unconstitutional, it allowed the victims who deserved full and fair compensation above the cap to get the justice that they deserved. That being said, we are going to fight for everything that you are entitled to. If the settlement offer does not reflect your damages in the fullest and fairest way, we keep fighting for you. If that means we go to trial, then we are going to trial for you.

When you pick a lawyer, you are picking someone who you are going to be working with for quite a while. Make sure you trust that person with the outcome of your case because the lawyer who works in your case can make or break your results. You want someone who thinks of you as a person who deserves justice and not just a file number to close and settle on as soon as they can.

What determines a medical malpractice case

Determining a Medical Malpractice Case

People who come to see us with medical malpractice cases often want to know if they have a case. With the experience that we have had in medical malpractice cases, we go through three steps to evaluate that. One is liability, meaning did the damage happen, did the doctor, the hospital, the nursing staff engage in conduct that was negligent, or in the medical malpractice language, did it fall below the standard of care for that particular event? If that answer is yes, we go to step two. Step two is called causation. What that means is did the acts or inactions of the healthcare provider cause the injury? If you don’t have it, then there’s no case. If it did, then we go to step three. That is damages. Did the bad acts cause the damages we’re complaining about, the damages that we’re talking about with the client? That may sound obvious. Sometimes it’s not, though, in a complicated case.

Damages, unfortunately, have to be substantial. Malpractice cases are very expensive cases. Because the expenses come out of the client’s share of a recovery, the damages of the case have to be large enough, substantial enough, to support the case. The very last thing that we want to do is bring a case if there aren’t enough damages. We explain it fully with the client at the front end because the last thing we want to have happen at the end of the life of a case if that we get paid and our client does not. Our attorney fee percentage is off the gross recovery, meaning the expenses come out of the client’s recovery off the top and the client basically gets what’s left. If we’re getting the overwhelming majority of the case or we suspect that’s going to be the case, then we tell that client we cannot help.

There are other means of addressing the case through administrative complaints with the agency for healthcare administration and we go through those types of things, as well. We would not be able to handle a malpractice case unless the damages are substantial enough. If you have a case, whether the damages are great or maybe not so great, come call us so we can point you in the right direction. We could educate you about your case, and figure out a plan that suits you best.

Common Mistakes in Medical Malpractice Cases

We have handled many medical malpractice cases in northeast Florida where we practice, including Duval County, Nassau County, and surrounding areas. Looking back over those cases, there is one mistake that is head and shoulders above other mistakes that we see made. That is people wait too long to get to a lawyer. Florida’s Medical Malpractice Act has a two-year statute of limitation period, meaning you have two years from the date that you suspected something negligent happened to bring a case. Two years goes by very quickly. Many times, we will get a case where much of that period has gone. It doesn’t leave much time to evaluate cases. These cases are expensive and before a lawyer will advance those costs, he’s got to have some idea of what the case is about. If you don’t give a lawyer enough time, you’re going to lose the services of that lawyer perhaps. You’re limiting his ability to do an effective evaluation. That’s the main mistake that we see being made.

The other is not getting medical care to address the problem that the healthcare provider inflicted upon you, for whatever reason. Sometimes, that is put upon the injured plaintiff, ironically, at a trial. If you’ve suffered a medical malpractice in Nassau or Duval County, don’t wait. Call immediately. We will sit down, and at a very minimum, educate you about medical malpractice, the ins and outs of it, and the practicalities of suing your own doctor, if that’s the case. We’ll figure out a plan that makes sense. Call us and we’ll sit down and chat.

Medical Malpractice Case Value

Sooner or later, a client will ask about the value of the case. We always tell them we don’t know because the mechanics of valuing a case come about as you get into the case. There are certain aspects of the case that factor in, such as the severity of the injury, whether that injury is going to produce long lasting effects that affect your ability to engage in your normal daily life, and whether you are out of work because of it. As such, valuing a case takes time.

We can begin to establish a value range once we’ve gathered information, collected evidence, and have a better handle on what the loss is according to the state’s damages. If you feel like you’ve had a loss due to a medical negligence or a healthcare provider in Nassau County or Duval County or the outlying areas, call us. We’ll sit down, we’ll go through it, and we’ll figure out a plan that suits you best.

How long does it take to resolve a medical malpractice case

Medical Malpractice Case Timeline

We are often asked how long it will take to wrap up a malpractice case. In northeast Florida, Nassau County, Duval County, and the surrounding areas, it takes 9 to 14 months at an absolute minimum, probably longer, simply because malpractice cases are expensive and complicated. There are lots of things that have to happen before you are even allowed to file a lawsuit. It takes an extremely long time to penalize cases. We’re required, under most circumstances, to hire professionals to evaluate the cases. An affidavit is needed that says there’s a reasonable prospect of a malpractice. That takes time, so 9 to 14 months is really a baseline to go to have the case prepared.

Once the case is filed, you can expect a couple of years in litigation on average. These are very complex cases. They’re very complicated cases. These are questions we handle at the very beginning in initial conferences with clients so that their expectations are set appropriately. These are not cases that are over and done with quickly in a couple of weeks. If you have suffered a loss due to the negligence of a healthcare provider, or a doctor, or hospital, call us. We’ll go over things and see how best we can help you.

Cost of a Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Often in the initial conference with clients regarding a potential medical malpractice claim, we end up talking about fees. It’s a very unique conversation because the medical insurance industry back in 2004 passed a constitutional amendment that drastically reduced the attorney fees that we would be allowed to charge. The lawyers recognized it for what it was very quickly on both sides, the plaintiffs and the defendants. A waiver document was created simply because malpractice cases are complicated. They’re expensive. They’re time consuming. They’re labor intensive.

Lawyers who do this cannot function without the fees being back to historically percentages that the former Supreme Court laid out. It’s a scale of 30%, 40% and some other percentages in larger cases. The labor restores that to fees basically 30% and 40% and there are different percentages in other kinds of malpractice cases. That’s the attorney fee cost. There are litigation expenses, court costs, expenses of the case that can be pretty high that can end up in six figures and complicated cases, cases that go to trial, certainly will be in that range. Those are all good questions to be asking, questions that get answered at the initial conference. If you have a malpractice case in Duval County, Nassau County, or any of the surrounding areas, call us. We’ll sit down. We’ll go over this and a lot more. We’ll figure out a way to best help you.

Medical Malpractice Insurance Investigation

When we meet with clients, we discuss with them whether it’s a good idea to talk to the insurance company. There are two answers to this. One is yes and that has to do with their own insurance companies that are helping to pay bills and most wages and things like that. You have a responsibility to cooperate with your own insurance company. You want to because you want them to take care of the matters that come under their policy. With regards to the insurance company for the other side, however, whether it’s the hospital or the doctor or the nurse or what have you, the answer is emphatically no. They have the interest of the healthcare provider in mind, not yours. All of their efforts to obtain information is for the benefit of their insured, not yours.

When we meet with clients, in the very first conversation, we tell them you will not talk to the other side’s insurance company. We tell them, if they get contacted, to give the insurance representative our contact information. At that point, it is illegal for the insurance company to talk to you about the case. They will call our office and then we will have a line of communication from our office to theirs, which is the way it should be. If you have a medical malpractice case which has occurred in Nassau County, Duval County, or any of the surrounding areas, call us. We’ll sit down. We’ll go over those things and a whole lot more. We’ll figure out how best to help you.

Uninformed Medical Procedure

Medical malpractice cases come in different forms. Do you have a case when the doctor didn’t tell you the procedure that he or she performed? The short answer is yes. Again, malpractice cases are complicated but that is what’s called an informed consent case. Healthcare providers cannot perform anything upon you unless they tell you what they’re going to do, the risks and benefits of it, and get you to consent to the procedure before it happens. If they do not do that, that is what is known as a breach of a standard of care, meaning it’s a negligent action or inaction. If you are hurt by it, you can prosecute a medical malpractice claim. If that has happened to you in Nassau County or Duval County or any of the surrounding areas, call us today. We’ll sit down and talk about it and see how best we can help you.

What are communication errors regarding a medical malpractice case

Medical Malpractice Communication Errors

Many times, clients will not understand what happened in their medical malpractice case. A communication error that we often see is that an assistant or a nurse practitioner will see something and either not communicate it to the treating physician, miscommunicate it to the treating physician, or communicate it properly and a treating physician not see it. All of those provide a basis for a medical malpractice claim. There are procedures and methods of communication that healthcare providers are very familiar with and they should follow them in each and every case.

Many times, for whatever reason, they don’t or it hasn’t been followed and it can be to the detriment, sometimes very severely, of a patient. We had a case rather recently within the last year when that happened. A lady was on home health and she did not have her meds done appropriately. The nurse saw it and reported it to the supervising physician. The physician did not look at it. This lady was catastrophically injured as a result. We successfully prosecute that claim. That’s what a communication error is. If you have something like that, call us and we will sit down with it. We’ll go over it and see how best we can help you.

Wounds Getting Worse

Sometimes, we get calls where a patient has been treated for something and their wound has gotten worse since the treatment. The first thing we tell that client is get medical care from someone else. If you’re not satisfied with the treatment that you’ve been getting and things seem to be getting worse, get a second opinion. That happens all the time in the medical field. Get a second opinion because it may be the doctor is not doing things properly. It may be that the doctor is doing things properly and your wound is getting worse for some other unrelated medical reasons. Getting a second opinion can help you be educated about your own circumstances.

If something wrong has happened and the second doctor can help you, then you can certainly switch doctors. If you think something like that has happened in Duval County or Nassau County where we practice or the outlying areas, call us today. We’ll sit down. We’ll go through that. We do a lot of counseling with people who are not satisfied with their treatment. Whether it constitutes a medical malpractice case or not, the counseling is educational. It can help you at a minimum. If there is a malpractice case, then certainly we can sit down with you, help you, and figure out what’s best for you.

Medical Malpractice Cases Going to Trial

One question that we always get asked sooner or later without fail from all clients is whether or not we are going to go to court with a case. In our experience, the majority of our cases do settle before going to trial. The reason for that is this: you have a seasoned lawyer representing you. Hopefully, you have a seasoned insurance representative, as well. If everyone is doing their job appropriately and properly, we’re going to be in a range of value, and because that is so, in most cases, the majority of cases will settle.

That’s not to say they all will. We will make our evaluation of the case. If it’s not in the same range as the other side, then we have a conversation with the client and recommend that we could do better at trial, then we go to trial. The reality is most cases do settle before we go to trial because they are prepared. They are worked up and they are prepared to go to trial. The other side knows that. The chances of a case settling before we get to trial increases. If you have a medical malpractice case in Duval County, or Nassau County, or any of the surrounding areas, give us a call. We’ll sit down. We’ll talk about it, see what you have, and see how best we can help you.

How do I choose the right medical malpractice lawyer

Choosing The Right Medical Malpractice Lawyer

Medical malpractice cases are very specialized personal injury cases. It is extremely important that in your search for the right medical malpractice attorney you find one with experience. These are some of the most complicated cases that you could ever be involved in. They are difficult to handle for those who are not well-versed in the laws connected with medical malpractice. There are a set of laws on the books in Florida that govern and control medical malpractice cases. Always ask your lawyer: Are you familiar with the Florida Medical Malpractice Act? Have you handled medical malpractice cases? How many? Have you handled one similar to the one I have?

Typically, these are not cases for young inexperienced lawyers. You need a lawyer who’s been through it, been in the trenches, has filed these claims, has navigated through the Medical Malpractice Act and knows what to do. Because if mistakes are made, the claim can be lost. Time is short in medical malpractice cases so it is extremely important that you get a very experienced lawyer who can help you through this process. If you suffered what you think is a loss at the hands of a healthcare provider, hospital, doctor, call us right away. We will sit down and go over things and see how best we can help.

Call Our Florida Medical Malpractice Lawyers Today

It is so important that you are represented by someone who wants to defend you and your rights to justice after you have been a victim of medical malpractice in Florida. Paul Boone our Jacksonville medical malpractice lawyer fights for your rights to justice in the fullest and fairest amount. These cases are extremely time sensitive and the sooner you reach out to us, the better off your case will likely be. Call our office today to set up your free initial consultation.

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