Is there anything more frustrating than investing in a doctor who gives you an incorrect prescription or diagnosis? Or who fails to recognize your symptoms, leaving you to sustain an injury or suffer an illness for way too long?
Everyone makes mistakes. But when a healthcare professional makes a mistake, it can have serious consequences. It can quickly jack up the price of medical bills and have a long-term impact on your health.
If you believe a doctor has been negligent or that you have been the victim of malpractice, you may want to consider filing a lawsuit. But how do you know if you have a medical malpractice case that is worth pursuing?
Here are a few questions to ask yourself.
Does your situation fit the definition of medical malpractice as defined under Florida law?
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional or provider causes bodily harm, injury, or death to a patient because they were negligent or provided insufficient or substandard treatment.
Filing a medical malpractice lawsuit demands that the healthcare professional take responsibility for his or her actions and repay the costs of damages and financial losses that resulted from the malpractice.
Here’s an example of this type of situation. A nurse gives too much of a certain drug to a patient. If the patient suffers an injury or illness from that mistake, he or she can file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the nurse.
Are you filing your claim within the statute of limitations?
One of the trickiest things about medical malpractice is that you may not discover that malpractice occurred until years later. But if you don’t act and file a claim on your medical malpractice quickly, it may be too late.
Most personal injury cases have a statute of limitations, or a period of time after the incident or accident in which you are allowed to file a lawsuit. In the state of Florida, you can only file a claim within two years of discovering your injury or four years after the malpractice occurred. After that time period, you may be out of luck.
Can the malpractice be verified by a medical professional?
When you first decide to file a medical malpractice claim, you must find a medical professional who is willing to complete an affidavit stating that malpractice. This document serves as confirmation that you do actually have a valid medical malpractice claim. This affidavit will be included in a notice of intent that you serve to the healthcare provider notifying him or her that you are going to sue.
After this, the healthcare provider has 90 days to decide whether or not he or she wants to settle outside of court. (Meanwhile, your statute of limitations clock is still ticking.) If the provider does not want to settle, then you have 60 days to sue the provider, and your case will begin.
Can you get the right kind of expert witness for your case?
Even after you have made it this far, Florida law has limitations for you. In 2013, Governor Rick Scott signed a bill that limited the kind of expert witnesses that you could call to testify at your case.
An expert witnesses must be a healthcare provider or professional who has the same specialty and training as the provider or professional who caused your injury. Previously, you just had to find a specialist who had training in a similar field.
For example, if you were injured by a neurosurgeon, you must find another neurosurgeon to be an expert witness in your case. Previously, other types of surgeons or neurologists would have been acceptable.
Let an Experienced Florida Medical Malpractice Attorney Be Your Guide
The bottom line is that there’s a lot that goes into whether or not your claim is worth pursuing. If you want to know what kind of chances you have and what you will need to do to win your claim, the best course of action is to consult with a Florida medical malpractice lawyer with a track record of success handling these types of cases.
An experienced medical malpractice lawyer will possess a clear, in-depth knowledge of how medical malpractice works in our state. And because of this, he or she can look at the facts of your case, break down your options, and discuss the potential paths available to you if you decide to pursue your claim.
About the Author:
John K. Lawlor, a South Florida personal injury attorney who focuses his practice on complex personal injury, wrongful death, and professional malpractice, founded the law firm of Lawlor, White & Murphey in 1996. Since 1995, Mr. Lawlor’s trial advocacy and litigation skills, as well as his wide-ranging legal expertise, have provided plaintiffs and their families with a distinct advantage when seeking financial compensation and justice for injuries caused by the negligence of others. Mr. Lawlor is an EAGLE member of the Florida Bar Association and an active member of the American Association for Justice, the Broward County Justice Association, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and several professional associations.