South Florida Medical Malpractice Attorney
Medical Malpractice & Negligence in Florida
Doctors, nurses, hospitals, and other healthcare providers have a responsibility to ensure their patients receive proper care. In fact, they are held to something known as the “acceptable standard of care,” which dictates that medical professionals must not take any action or commit any omission that another qualified provider would not have in the same or similar circumstances. When healthcare providers fail to uphold this acceptable standard of care, patients can experience disastrous or even deadly consequences.
When you see a doctor, you have the right to expect a certain level of treatment and care. If you were injured or if your loved one died, and you believe a medical professional’s error, negligence, or omission is to blame, contact Zimmerman & Frachtman, P.A. Since 1994, our Florida medical malpractice attorneys have been fighting tirelessly for the rights of victims and their families. To date, our firm has secured more than $300 million for our clients. We understand complex medical malpractice laws, and we have what it takes to aggressively advocate for you and your recovery.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
In the simplest terms, medical malpractice occurs when healthcare providers fail to uphold the acceptable standard of care. This means they either did something another qualified medical provider would not have done or failed to do something another provider would have when treating a patient in the same or similar circumstances.
It should be noted that this does not mean medical providers can be held liable simply because a patient does not get better with treatment. A poor outcome does not necessarily indicate malpractice. Rather, the patient (or their surviving family members) must be able to prove that the healthcare provider was somehow negligent or provided substandard care, leading to the patient’s injuries and/or death.
Some common examples of medical malpractice include:
- Anesthesia errors
- Birth injuries
- Early discharge
- Failure to obtain informed consent
- Failure to treat
- Failure to warn
- Hospital and emergency room errors
- Misanalysis or misinterpretation of lab, test, or diagnostic results
- Misdiagnosis, delayed diagnosis, or failure to diagnose
- Medication errors, including dosage errors
- Pharmaceutical mistakes
- Poor follow-up or aftercare
- Surgical errors
Sadly, these and other forms of medical negligence can have devastating effects. Without proper treatment, patients’ conditions can worsen, leading to further complications. In the most tragic of cases, patients may even die as a result of poor medical care.
A medical malpractice claim must have one of the following characteristics:
- A violation of the standard of care
- An injury caused by negligence
- The injury caused significant damages
Medical malpractice can result in many serious injuries including:
- Internal bleeding and injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Brain injuries
- Birth injuries
How Do Medical Malpractice Cases Work in Florida?
Florida has several unique rules when it comes to filing medical malpractice claims and recovering compensation for damages.
First and foremost, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases is slightly different than other types of personal injury claims. You are required to begin a medical malpractice lawsuit within two years of the date of injury or the date on which the injury was discovered or reasonably could have been discovered. However, you cannot file a lawsuit if more than four years have passed since the date of injury, even if the injury was not discovered and could not have been discovered within four years. Note that this does not apply in cases involving minors if a case is begun on or before the minor’s eighth (8th) birthday.
Another important difference between medical malpractice claims and other personal injury cases in Florida is that you must file a notice of intent in medical malpractice cases. This notice informs the healthcare provider that you intend to file a lawsuit. It must also include an affidavit of merit, which indicates that your medical malpractice claim is valid. Once you have filed the notice of intent, the healthcare provider has 90 days to decide if they want to settle the claim. During this time, the statute of limitations is “tolled,” or put on hold.
If the healthcare provider decides that they do not wish to settle the claim before the full 90 days, you have either 60 days or the remaining time allowed under the statute of limitations to file a lawsuit, whichever is longer. You may request an “investigation period,” which allows you (or your attorney) to obtain a medical expert to investigate your case. An investigation period, if granted, will extend the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit by another 90 days.
Does Florida Have a Cap on Medical Malpractice Damages?
Florida used to have several different caps on medical malpractice damages. These caps depended on the circumstances of a case and, to this day, still technically exist in the state’s medical malpractice statute. However, these caps are no longer observed in practice.
Florida’s past caps on medical malpractice damages include:
- $500,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases involving injury due to practitioner negligence or injury
- $1,000,000 cap on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases involving death or patients left in vegetative states due to practitioner negligence or error
- $750,000 or $1,500,000 in medical malpractice cases involving injury, vegetative state, or death due to nonpractitioner error or negligence
In 2017, the Florida Supreme Court found these caps to be unconstitutional. As a result, they generally do not apply in most medical malpractice cases in the state.
What to Do If You Suspect You or a Loved One Is the Victim of Medical Malpractice
It can be very difficult to tell when an injury or a loved one’s death was the result of medical negligence. If you suspect that you or someone you care about received substandard care from a healthcare provider, we encourage you to reach out to our team at Zimmerman & Frachtman, P.A. for a free, no-obligation consultation. Not only do our attorneys know the law, but they also have a proven record of success handling complex medical malpractice cases. Our team has recovered several significant settlements and verdicts, including results over $1 million, in multiple high-profile cases.
Medical malpractice claims are some of the most complicated and challenging types of personal injury cases. We strongly advise you to seek the help of a skilled legal team, one that can walk you through your options and protect your rights throughout the legal process. Although every case is different, and there is no way to guarantee an outcome, it’s important to work with a lawyer who has a history of success in this area of law. An experienced attorney can draw on past cases and work with a team of experts to ensure the best possible chance of success.
Schedule a Complimentary Consultation Today
As members of the community, our attorneys and staff at Zimmerman & Frachtman, P.A. are dedicated to improving the lives of all Florida residents and ensuring that negligent healthcare providers and other parties are made accountable for the pain, suffering, and harm they cause. We offer compassionate, client-centered service based on trust, integrity, and accessibility. We believe that communication is the cornerstone of a successful client-attorney relationship, which is why we make ourselves readily available to our clients when they need us most.
There are no upfront or out-of-pocket costs when you hire our firm. Instead, our Florida medical malpractice attorneys only get paid if you do. If we do not secure a settlement or verdict on your behalf, you do not pay us a dime.
Medical Malpractice FAQ
Is medical malpractice common?
Medical malpractice is relatively common in the United States. WebMD reports that preventable medical errors kill up to 100,000 Americans every year—however, the actual number of cases may be much higher. Some studies have found that medical malpractice is the third-leading cause of death in the U.S., second only to heart disease and cancer. A now-famous John Hopkins study reported that medical errors lead to 250,000 deaths every year in the U.S., and other data have indicated that the true number of people killed annually due to medical malpractice and negligence could be as high as 440,000.
Who can file a medical malpractice claim or lawsuit?
You could be eligible to file a medical malpractice claim or sue a healthcare provider if you sustained injuries after receiving substandard care. You could also be entitled to take legal action if your family member suffered a permanent disability or died due to a medical provider’s error or negligence. Note that in Florida, only the personal representative of the estate may file a wrongful death claim. However, damages are awarded to certain eligible family members, including surviving spouses, children, and dependents.
How long do I have to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in Florida?
In most cases, you must file your lawsuit within two years of being injured or discovering your injury. If you did not discover your injury right away, the two-year deadline begins on the date that your injury became discoverable, meaning you could have reasonably known you were injured. In any case, you cannot file a medical malpractice lawsuit in Florida if more than four years have passed since the actual date of injury.
Who can I sue if I was the victim of medical malpractice?
Medical malpractice lawsuits can be brought against any liable party. Depending on the specific details of your case, this could be a medical practitioner, such as a doctor, nurse, surgeon, anesthetist, pharmacist, dentist, etc. You can also sue nonpractitioner medical providers, such as hospitals, emergency rooms, urgent care centers, and other institutions. The statutes governing medical malpractice claims against private institutions and individuals, as well as government-run medical providers, are often revised. We recommend that you discuss your case with an attorney at our firm right away. At Zimmerman & Frachtman, P.A., we remain up to date on all new and revised state and federal laws and can answer any questions you may have.
Can a hospital turn away a patient?
Hospitals are not allowed to turn away patients in need of emergency medical care. In non-emergencies, a private hospital may be allowed to refuse to treat a patient who cannot pay for care. However, once a patient has been admitted, the hospital cannot stop treatment unless the patient fails to pay for services or disrupts the facility’s ability to provide therapeutic care. In any case, the hospital must provide sufficient notice to the patient prior to stopping treatment.
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