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The impact of medical malpractice can be life-changing. Whether you’re dealing with a missed diagnosis that allowed an illness to quietly progress or a surgical error that has left you with permanent injuries, you may be wondering whether you have any legal options.
In many cases, a medical malpractice lawsuit can be the key to recovering damages against a negligent doctor or another medical professional. But medical malpractice lawsuits can be tougher to bring—and to win—than other types of legal claims. Medical malpractice lawsuits have more administrative hoops to jump through than the typical personal injury claims. Below, we discuss some of the legal elements of a malpractice claim and why suing a doctor for malpractice can often be complex.
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What is Medical Malpractice?
Not every medical mistake or error is enough to establish malpractice. Sometimes, even if a doctor does everything right, the patient may suffer complications; in other cases, a doctor’s error may not have had any impact on the ultimate outcome.
To bring a medical malpractice claim, a patient will need to prove:
- They had a formal doctor-patient relationship with the at-fault medical professional
- The doctor or medical professional’s actions didn’t meet the relevant standard of care
- As a result of this breach, the patient was injured
Florida’s Medical Malpractice Act requires a showing that a medical professional’s care was inadequate or negligent. To make this claim, you’ll need to have another medical professional who practices in the same field provide expert witness testimony—either personally, in court, or through a deposition or sworn affidavit.
You’ll also need to connect this claim to the damages you’ve suffered. If a physician makes an error, but this error has no impact on the procedure or outcome, you usually won’t be able to recover compensation.
What Claims Does Medical Malpractice Include?
Medical malpractice can include, but isn’t limited to, the following types of claims:
- Failure to diagnose
- Birth injuries,
- Surgical errors
- Anesthesia errors
- Emergency room errors
- In-hospital disease transmission or infection
- Faulty medical equipment
- Improper treatment
- Pharmaceutical errors like prescribing or administering the wrong medication
Why Are Medical Malpractice Cases So Challenging?
Most personal injury claims will require the plaintiff to show that the defendant’s conduct fell below the duty of care of an average person. But medical malpractice lawsuits require proof that the physician or medical professional’s care fell below the industry standard. This can require some complex inquiries into what the standard of care for a particular procedure or specialty is. You’ll need to find expert witnesses who can evaluate the doctor’s conduct and determine where, specifically, it fell short.
You’ll also need to prove that, but for the medical professional’s malpractice, you wouldn’t have suffered your injuries. Proving causation can be challenging and may also require expert testimony. Building a strong case can take time and require diligent examination of your medical records, other patient complications, and any other relevant information.
What Damages Are Available in a Medical Malpractice Case?
If a plaintiff succeeds in their malpractice claim, they may be able to recover both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are those that can be quantified and are often based on the plaintiff’s actual costs. They include:
- Medical expenses
- Future medical treatment costs
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earnings
- Disability-related expenses
- Loss of companionship
Non-economic damages are tougher to quantify and don’t depend on an out-of-pocket expense. They can include:
- Anxiety and mental anguish
- Loss of quality of life
- Chronic pain
- Trouble sleeping
- Post-traumatic stress disorder
Under Florida law, non-economic damages are capped at $500,000 (against practitioners) and $750,000 (against non-practitioners). However, there’s no cap on the amount of economic damages a plaintiff can recover.
Medical negligence can occur for a number of reasons. Anything from misdiagnosis to medication errors to retained instruments has the potential to be something a medical malpractice attorney identifies as outside of standards of care. It’s important to understand that when medical malpractice occurs, it is not your fault. However, insurance companies intentionally make the claims process a hassle. Their interest is to protect a medical team from loss of earnings rather than pay punitive damages.
Medical Malpractice Lawyers Will Fight for You
If you or a loved one has been injured or harmed as a result of a medical error, you may be entitled to compensation. At The Ferraro Law Firm, our medical malpractice lawyers are focused on each client’s case and will use all our resources to ensure you have the most robust representation possible. To schedule your free consultation, call 888-554-2030 or just fill out our free case consultation form and a member of our team will soon be in touch.
Frequently Asked Questions: Medical Malpractice
What cause of medical malpractice is most common?
Most medical malpractice cases are the result of either misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis.
Are medical malpractice and negligence the same?
No. Medical negligence is a failure to meet the standard of care; medical malpractice is a failure to meet the standard of care plus a patient injury.
What defines malpractice?
Medical malpractice is defined as a breach of the duty of care owed by a medical provider, causing physical harm to the patient.
How is medical negligence defined?
Medical negligence is defined as an act or omission by a healthcare provider that doesn’t meet the agreed standard of care.