Medical Malpractice Attorneys
Medical malpractice refers to professional negligence by a healthcare professional or provider in which treatment provided was substandard, causing harm, injury, or death to a patient. In the majority of cases, medical malpractice or negligence involves a medical error, possibly in diagnosis, medication dosage, health management, treatment, or aftercare. The error may also have occurred because of a failure to act, known as an act of omission.
The term medical malpractice encompasses a large range of acts or failures to act, but the area of law can be tricky. Extremely strict guidelines must be met for a patient to have any chance of proving malpractice in court.
For this reason, it is important to speak with an attorney about your case before proceeding with what can be an expensive process. Approaching such a complicated area of both law and medicine alone could wind up wasting valuable resources, like time and money.
The guidelines that must be met are in place to help prevent—or at least deter—false medical malpractice claims. Personal health and well-being can change suddenly and seemingly without cause; it is human nature to want answers and closure. Hospitals, medical professionals, and other figures in the healthcare industry often find themselves being wrongly accused. This led most states to raise the difficulty of opening a tort case and lower the possible settlement from winning one.
A hospital, doctor or other health care professional is not liable for all the harms a patient might suffer. They are only legally responsible for harm or injuries that resulted from their deviating from the quality of care that a competent doctor would normally provide in similar situations, and which resulted in harm or injury for the patient.
The court will, in nearly every case, call upon an expert witness. This witness must be educated, trained, or have more or equal experience than the at-fault party in the matter being argued to be able to give a reliable opinion. There are also guidelines for expert witnesses that are expected by the court to be met before the proceedings can move forward. Before the actual trial, the expert witness will give his testimony to the trial court judge without the jury present. The judge will then decide if his testimony is worthy of being presented to the jury.
Types of Medical Malpractice Damages
Depending on the damage received, you may be entitled to a certain amount of compensation; however, this compensation is limited (usually termed, capped) to a certain amount which varies from state to state. There are a few different types of damages you can seek due to medical malpractice. (For more details on the subject, see in depth Medical Malpractice damages).
General Damages: These damages can range from general, everyday life-altering pain and suffering, to future lost earnings due to potential inability caused by the injury. For example, if a person was being drafted to the NFL and, as a result of medical malpractice, lost a limb, the potential earnings from the NFL may be sought as general damages. It also covers general loss of enjoyment of life (known as hedonic damages). These damages are usually asked for and determined by the expert witnesses that testify.
Special Damages: These are specific, calculable expenses like medical bills, lost wages from missed work, calculable future lost earnings from missing work, modifications to the home to compensate a disability, etc. These damages can be proved by paperwork, receipts, or anything of the like and often require little to no testifying.
Punitive Damages: The damages are separate from general and special damages and seek specifically to punish the doctor or healthcare provider for their actions. They are rare in medical malpractice, but it does happen. Punitive damages are usually reserved for the most extreme of cases in which a provider’s actions were intentionally harmful and obviously deplorable.
Regardless of the damages caused, Florida has a limit of $500,000 in compensation for medical malpractice suits against a healthcare provider, and a surprising $750,000 against non-medical practitioners. (For more information on Florida medical malpractice laws, see §766 of the Florida Statutes).
Though it is growing harder to win a medical malpractice case due to increasingly stricter requirements, it is possible and does happen. You may have some leverage that you’re not even aware of that could be crucial in winning your case, so it’s important for you to talk to an attorney as soon as possible.