Proving a malpractice claim in Florida starts with determining whether the case meets the requirements outlined under state law. In order to bring a claim, the following elements must exist:
- Proof of doctor-patient relationship
- Proof of negligent care
- Proof negligent care lead to injuries
- Proof of specific damages from those injuries
Showing the existence of a doctor-patient relationship between the injured party and the medical professional is generally not difficult to show and typically is not challenged in a malpractice case. The other factors of a malpractice case are more complicated.
Before these elements must be demonstrated in court, proving a malpractice claim starts with looking at the evidence.
Proving a Malpractice Claim Starts with Collecting Evidence
Your medical negligence lawyer will want all of the following and possibly more when investigating the claim:
- Medical records
- Photos of injuries (if applicable)
- Medical bills
- Letters from medical professional
- Letters from your health insurance company
- Any notes you’ve taken related to the medical care you’ve received
When looking at your medical records, it’s important to have all the documentation associated with the treatment that is in question. That includes records from every medical professional who treated you during the time period in which the malpractice occurred.
Getting an Expert Opinion
Once your attorney has your medical records, the next step is having them thoroughly reviewed by a specialist in the same area as the doctor being sued for malpractice. If you suffered injuries at the hands of a cardiac surgeon, for example, then the expert who reviews your records should also be a specialist in cardiac surgery.
One of the factors this specialist will be looking for is what’s known as the medical standard of care. Did the doctor who treated you act with similar skill and care as another doctor of the same training would have?
If the specialist who reviews your records finds that you did not receive the medical standard of care and that you suffered significant injuries and damages as a result, they will write a signed statement known as an affidavit that saying that you have a valid malpractice claim. This affidavit will then be included in a notice of intent to sue, which is served to the negligent health care provider.
Physician expert witness are not always easy to find. Not all doctors will agree to do it, and not all are qualified to serve as an expert witness. Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice lawyer Lisa S. Levine typically looks for expert witnesses at top universities in the nation. She looks for a physician who teaches, writes scholarly works, and is well-versed in the condition the plaintiff is suffering from.
Proving Damages in a Florida Medical Negligence Case
Other factors that are needed in proving a malpractice claim are specific damages from those injuries. Even if the doctor is shown to have provided substandard care, a malpractice claim won’t be successful if there are not specific damages related to the negligent care.
These damages could include additional medical bills, lost income and lost earning capacity from being unable to work, and even pain and suffering.
Frequently Asked Questions About Medical Malpractice
Because each medical malpractice case is unique, there is no general answer to what the potential compensation might be. In the U.S. in 2018, the average payout for such a case was $348,065, however there are many factors that can affect the amount of compensation you can recover. Some of these factors include:
– The severity of the injuries
– Amount of medical bills
– Permanency of injuries
Read more about medical malpractice compensation
If you are injured by medical negligence and Medicare or Medicaid has paid a portion or all of your medical expenses, you should know that you will be expected to reimburse the government the costs of your treatment out of your malpractice lawsuit compensation. However, your attorney will negotiate to reduce the amount you must repay Medicare/Medicaid as much as possible.
Read more about Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement
Other parties may be held liable for the injuries caused by malpractice, in addition to the medical professional who committed the malpractice. The hospital may be held vicariously liable, for example, if a doctor who works for the hospital commits medical malpractice. This is because the hospital hired the doctor and made money from the services the doctor performed.
Read more about vicarious liability in medical malpractice claims.
When to Start Your Malpractice Claim
The law places limits on the amount of time you have to file a medical malpractice claim; this timeframe is known as the statute of limitations.
A person who has been injured by a doctor’s negligence has 2 years from the day that the patient knew or should have known that malpractice was committed. After this deadline has passed, it is unlikely your claim will be allowed by the courts.
If you believe you have been a victim of medical malpractice, call Lisa S. Levine, P.A., at 954-256-1820 for a free consultation. We can evaluate your case, answer your questions, and get help proving a malpractice claim in Florida.