Medical Malpractice involves improper treatment or negligence on the part of a doctor or other medical professional that causes injury, harm, or death to the patient. This may result from inaccurate diagnosis, wrong medication, errors in surgery, or inadequate aftercare. Medical malpractice can be the cause of various physical injuries as well as emotional pain and suffering, and the doctor or hospital concerned can be sued for the damages. However, not all medical errors are considered medical malpractice. Usually, you are required to seek help from another medical expert to confirm malpractice.
Florida’s Medical Malpractice Laws Can Be Confusing
Florida’s medical malpractice laws are more complex than those of most other states. It has also proven to be much easier on doctors and hospitals than it is on patients.
All states have different time limits for a patient to file a medical malpractice suit, referred to as the statute of limitations. In Florida, the statute of limitations is two years from the date that the patient discovered or should have discovered that he or she suffered harm due to medical malpractice.
Apart from the statute of limitations, Florida has a harsher rule, known as the statute of repose. According to this rule, in no circumstances (apart from fraud, destruction of evidence, or covering-up mistakes) shall a medical professional be sued after more than four years from the date that the malpractice took place, regardless of when it was discovered. Further, your entire claim will expire with whatever statute expires first, irrespective of the fact that the other statute may or may not have expired yet. This means that a medical malpractice case must be filed within four years of the date that the malpractice occurred, otherwise the claim is considered invalid. However, in cases of a fraud, a cover-up, or other such severe cases of malpractice, the statute is seven years.
Florida’s Laws Concerning Birth-Related Medical Malpractice
Under Florida law, birth-related medical malpractice occurs when the negligence of a doctor, hospital, or other medical professional causes any of the following:
- Injuries to the mother, infant, or both
- Wrongful birth, meaning cases where incomplete information or no information is provided to the parents about complications in the pregnancy, where the parents might have chosen to end the pregnancy if they had all of the information.
- Wrongful pregnancy, meaning cases where a woman can avoid or end a pregnancy to avoid complications, but the doctor/hospital/medical professional fails to do so.
Damages You Can Recover in a Florida Medical Malpractice Claim
If you have suffered through any of the above medical malpractice situations, there are several forms of damages that you can claim to compensate your injuries and suffering. In Florida, you can claim economic damages as well as non-economic damages. Economic damages include hospital bills, other medical expenses, lost wages, etc. Non-economic damages include distress, trauma, pain and suffering and other similar damages that are not financial in nature.
In the case of birth injuries, once there is evidence that the infant was harmed during the delivery, you can file a lawsuit on behalf of the infant, acting as the infant’s guardian. The hospital or doctor can be sued for the damages caused to the infant as well as the emotional suffering inflicted upon you.
Birth-related injuries are complex and differ from case to case. In cases of injury to the infant, it can be difficult to determine if the damage is a birth injury or birth defect. A birth injury is when the baby is harmed during the delivery, whereas a baby may have a birth defect even before it is born. Birth injuries include cerebral palsy, broken or dislocated bones, injury to the spinal cord, and so forth.
In case of injury to the mother, which may include hemorrhaging during delivery, administering the wrong medications or the wrong dosage, with harmful effects, you may claim damages for the cost of healing and any other medical complications that may arise from it.
In cases of wrongful birth, where if provided with the necessary information, you would have chosen to end the pregnancy to avoid any defects, the hospital or doctor may have to compensate for any emotional trauma caused to you as well incur all medical expenses that stem from the child’s disorder.
In cases of wrongful pregnancy, you may have tried to avoid the pregnancy by sterilization or might have chosen to end the pregnancy completely, but negligence on part of the doctor or hospital may have caused the procedure to fail. The damages in a wrongful pregnancy case are debatable, and depend on several factors: Are you incapable of caring for the child? Do you have extreme financial constraints? Was the sterilization performed incorrectly by the doctor? It is known that there is a small percentage of failure in sterilization procedures, so not all of these cases can be successful.
If you prevail in a wrongful pregnancy case, there are many forms of damages that you can claim, including the cost for the failed sterilization, the cost for termination, the cost of childbirth and childcare, and compensation for any wages that the pregnancy may have caused you to lose.
The Process of Proving Your Medical Malpractice Claim
There are several things that could go wrong with a pregnancy, and the resulting circumstances can be traumatic and overwhelming. If you have been subjected to injuries during pregnancy, wrongful birth, or wrongful pregnancy, it can be devastating. However, in cases of medical malpractice, it is necessary to act logically and rationally to obtain some semblance of justice through a lawsuit.
Even so, birth-related medical malpractice can be tricky to prove. Under Florida law, there is a general standard of medical care which is expected from all medical professionals and hospitals. In court, your attorney will have to establish that your doctor or hospital failed to act according to this general standard of care, thus leading to damage or injury caused to you or your child or both.
If you have reason to believe that the doctor, hospital, or other medical professional was responsible for any birth-related injury or damage caused to you, your child, or both, then you must seek legal help. You will need to gather all possible evidence, including hospital bills, medical records, and prescriptions, to prepare for your lawsuit. Your attorney will have to prove that the medical professional failed to give you or your child the necessary medical attention and advice. Your attorney may rely on the opinion of another expert medical professional to prove that the damage caused was due to malpractice.
If you have reasonable cause to believe that you have been subjected to medical malpractice in Florida, contact a determined Ft. Lauderdale, FL medical malpractice lawyer at Madalon Law for a free consultation as soon as possible.