Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Couture Law P.A. can help you hold the negligent accountable
Florida law defines medical malpractice as the negligent performance of medical care by a health care provider. The definition also includes the negligent failure to perform needed medical care. The malpractice may occur at any time during care, diagnosis, and treatment. As a victim of medical harm, you must contend with a strict statute of limitations and follow certain steps before filing a lawsuit. A Titusville medical malpractice attorney can guide you through the process of holding a health care provider accountable for your suffering and financial losses.
Lax oversight of physicians
Medical care requires you to place a great deal of trust in health care professionals and their institutions. In emergency situations, you may have no way to evaluate the records of those who care for you. Even with planned care, you could unknowingly encounter a provider with a troublesome record. State authorities rarely penalize physicians accused multiple times of malpractice.
Central Florida News at WMFE reported on a review of state records that revealed physicians often continued to practice despite paying multiple medical malpractice settlements. During the period of 2000 to 2016, the state had knowledge of 14 physicians who had paid 10 or more settlements. Twenty-nine physicians had paid six or more settlements. The Board of Medicine had only taken away the medical licenses of three of the physicians. Out of this group, 18 of them still practiced medicine as of 2017.
In such an environment, people in Florida often have only the legal system to turn to after being harmed or killed by negligent medical providers. Because physicians carry medical malpractice insurance, you can expect an insurer to hire a lawyer to fight your claim for damages. The representation of a medical malpractice lawyer could improve your position during a vulnerable and distressing time for you and your family.
Who are health care providers?
Collecting damages for medical malpractice legally requires that a health care provider be the source of injury. Florida law designates the following positions as health care providers:
- licensed physicians
- outpatient surgery centers
Medical malpractice complaint process
Your claim for damages resulting from medical negligence does not begin with a lawsuit. The process begins with a presuit investigation for the purpose of identifying the defendants. As the investigation starts, a petition about your claim should be sent to the applicable court that could eventually oversee your case. The petition alerts the court about the situation and triggers a 90-day extension on the statute of limitations.
During the 90-day extension, opportunities to settle your case may arise now that an investigation is underway. Should a settlement not be reached, then all defendants must receive the notice of intent document that warns them of your willingness to litigate your claim. The health care provider’s insurer will launch an investigation as well. Discovery and good faith sharing of evidence between the parties should occur during this period. At any time, you might reach a settlement as both sides evaluate evidence of liability. Only after observing the presuit steps may your case advance to trial if necessary.
The services of a skilled personal injury attorney could ensure that you complete the presuit steps to the satisfaction of the law. Failure to follow the steps could force a court to dismiss your case.
Florida medical malpractice statute of limitations
You have two years to file a legal action for medical malpractice in Florida. Missing this deadline removes your right to pursue damages in court. The two-year countdown starts on the date of the medical mistake.
The law grants some leeway in the two-year time period because you may not have immediately realized that you suffered medical harm. Therefore, you have two years after the discovery of the medical malpractice or at least two years after you should have noticed it.
Despite allowances for cases that did not immediately reveal medical injury, the statute of limitations places a hard stop on medical malpractice lawsuits if four years have passed. Only medical malpractice actions on behalf of a minor prior to the child’s eighth birthday have the possibility of exceeding the four-year limit.
Legal criteria for malpractice
When you discuss your case with an attorney, the evaluation will consider whether the facts can illustrate medical malpractice. To move a case forward, you will need to prove four main elements of the case. These are:
- A health care provider owed a duty to you.
- This health care provider did not meet the standard of care for your situation.
- Failure to meet the standard of care directly caused your injury.
- You experienced an injury.
Caps on medical malpractice damages
You may have heard that Florida limits the amount of noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, that you can collect. However, the Florida Supreme Court has mostly eliminated the caps imposed by previous laws on your right to collect noneconomic damages. The high court ruled in 2017 that the law was unconstitutional because it arbitrarily limited compensation without considering the severity of injuries.
Some caps remain on cases involving health care providers employed by state or local governments. The legal concept of sovereign immunity protects governmental entities from full liability in some situations.
Get a legal opinion about your case
Due to the tight timeline imposed by the statute of limitations, you should get a legal opinion as soon as possible when you suspect medical malpractice. You will need time to obtain a review of your situation by an independent medical expert. At Couture Law P.A. in Titusville, Florida, we can help to arrange this for you. We can manage the investigation and work to uncover all evidence of liability as well as all defendants responsible for your suffering. Legal support could reduce your stress over this contentious situation so that you can focus on your health. We have experience negotiating with insurers and confronting their tactics for withholding money that medical injury victims deserve. Learn what you can do to recover financial damages by contacting our office today.