Fort Lauderdale Medical Malpractice Attorneys
Medical malpractice is a nightmare that no one wants to live through in real life. As patients, we assume our physicians, nurses, and surgeons take our care extremely seriously – limiting the number of mistakes made in hospitals and emergency rooms. In reality, Fort Lauderdale doctors and healthcare facilities make careless errors every year. Sometimes these errors don’t do any damage, but in other circumstances medical malpractice can severely injure, maim, or kill patients. If you have been effected by one of these negligent practices, call our Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice attorneys today for a free consultation.
The medical malpractice team at Chalik & Chalik will thoroughly analyze every detail of your medical malpractice claim, and will advise you on legal options for moving forward. Our Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice team understands what a difficult time you’ve gone through. Jason and Debi Chalik will help locate witnesses, obtain medical records and research as much information and evidence that is necessary to help you build your case. Don’t hesitate, call our Fort Lauderdale malpractice team now at (954) 476-1000.
Common Types of Medical Malpractice Injuries
The legal term “medical malpractice” refers to any situation in which a medical professional breaches his/her duty of care to a patient, resulting in the patient’s injury or death. Medical malpractice can take many shapes and forms, and it can cause any number of harms to the victim. From worsened prognoses and dangerous drug interactions to surgeons leaving instruments in the body cavity, many things can go wrong in the medical setting. Medical malpractice cases can involve:
- Delayed or misdiagnosis
- Childbirth injuries
- Medication mistakes
- Emergency room errors
- Surgical errors
- Anesthesia mistakes
At Chalik & Chalik, we know that medical malpractice is unfortunately a rather uncommon type of personal injury accident in Fort Lauderdale. Still, many people try to file these claims every year. If you have reason to suspect a healthcare professional’s negligence or intent to harm involved in your recent injury or a loved one’s death, speak to a lawyer. You may also have a claim if the facility itself is guilty of negligence – for example, if a life-saving machine broke down due to lack of maintenance or an unsanitary facility contributed to your injury or illness.
Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Guidelines in Fort Lauderdale
To file for medical malpractice in Fort Lauderdale, you must do so within two years of the date the injury. If you discover the injury later – i.e., a surgeon left an instrument behind during a surgery in 2015, but you did not discover it until it began causing medical complications in 2017 – the clock doesn’t start ticking until you discover the injury. Regardless of when you discover the injury, you have a four-year deadline from the date of the injury at the latest. There are exceptions to this time limit, so speak to a lawyer before ruling out a lawsuit.
A plaintiff must fulfill special filing requirements to bring this type of claim in Fort Lauderdale. A plaintiff must serve a “Notice of Intent to Sue” to the defendant before he/she can file in the civil courts. This notice must include an affidavit signed by a medical professional. The Notice sets a complicated settlement process in motion that will last 90 days. During this time, the courts pause the statute of limitations.
Medical Malpractice Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
(Q) What amount of damages can a patient recover in a medical malpractice claim?
(A) In some states, there is a limit on the amount of damages that a patient can recover in a medical malpractice claim. Compensatory damages are meant to compensate a patient who has suffered an injury, for medical expenses, lost wages because the patient missed days of work and pain and suffering.
There is a limit on the amount of non-economic damages that a patient can recover in Florida. Non-economic damages compensate the patient for the pain and suffering that he or she has suffered. One cannot recover more than $1 million of non-economic damages in Florida.
There is also a limit on the amount of punitive damages that one may recover in Florida. The reason for punitive damages is to deter other potential defendants from engaging in similar negligent behavior that causes injury to other patients. In order to recover punitive damages in a medical malpractice case in Florida, the patient must prove that the hospital, doctor or other health care provider intended to cause severe harm.
(Q) What is the statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice claim?
(A) In the majority of states, there is a statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice claim. In Florida, the statute of limitations is two years from the time at which the patient knew or should have known of the injury and that the injury was caused by the negligence of a doctor or other health care provider. However, Florida also has a statute of repose, which states that a patient may not file a medical malpractice claim against a health care provider after four years have elapsed since the date on which the malpractice occurred.
The only exception to this rule is where the hospital, doctor or other medical provider engaged in fraud, concealment or misrepresentation. In this case, the patient may still be able to file a medical malpractice claim after four years have elapsed since the date of the incident of malpractice. Therefore, it is imperative that one discovers that one is the victim of negligent conduct on the part of a doctor within four years of the malpractice, and consult an attorney immediately.
(Q) What must a plaintiff prove in order to file a successful medical malpractice claim?
(A) In order to file a successful medical malpractice claim, a plaintiff must prove five elements of a negligence case. First, the plaintiff must show that the defendant owed a duty to the plaintiff. For example, the hospital, doctor or other health care provider must have owed a duty of care to the patient. Then, the patient must prove that the hospital or doctor breached that duty by failing to conform to the standard of care that is acceptable in the medical profession.
The patient then has to prove that a breach of the duty caused an injury. The breach of duty must have been a direct, or “but for” cause as well as a proximate cause of the injury. As a “but for” cause, the injury would not have occurred without the negligence of the doctor or hospital. As a proximate, or legal, cause, the injury must have been foreseeable to the defendant. In some jurisdictions, the doctor or hospital will also be held liable if their conduct was a substantial factor in causing the patient’s injury.
Furthermore, the patient must prove that he or she suffered damages, which may be compensatory and/or punitive. Compensatory damages include economic and non-economic damages. Among the economic damages are medical expenses, lost earnings, loss of future earnings and pain and suffering. The non-economic damages consist of physical and psychological harm.
(Q) How common is medical malpractice?
(A) Medical malpractice is very common, and consists of such mistakes as misdiagnosis, incorrect prescriptions, surgical errors and needless incidents relevant to childbirth. In addition, medical malpractice can occur when there are errors in paperwork that can place patient’s life at risk. Victims of medical malpractice are entitled to receive compensation for the injuries they suffered due to the negligence of their physician or other health care provider.
In the United States, mistakes in diagnosis cause between 80,000 and 160,000 fatalities every year, according to researchers at Johns Hopkins University. This makes diagnostic errors one of the most perilous and costly errors committed by American doctors.
The researchers analyzed data from more than 350,000 malpractice claims in the United States that happened over the past 25 years. They revealed that most of claims were relevant to diagnostic errors, and that those errors often resulted in harm to the patient, and the largest payout.
(Q) How do I know if I have a medical malpractice case?
(A) If you have suffered harm or injury because of poor medical treatment from a medical provider, or an error in diagnosis from your physician, then it is likely that you have a medical malpractice case. Usually, the standard that is used to determine if a doctor was negligent is whether a competent doctor would have rendered the same type of care under similar circumstances. You have a valid claim if the medical error committed by your doctor represents a breach of that standard of care, and thus, rises to the level of medical malpractice.
In order to prove medical malpractice, the victim must show that the doctor exhibited negligence with respect to diagnosis or treatment of your condition. You must have a doctor-patient relationship with the doctor who is being accused of medical practice. Common examples of medical malpractice are failure to diagnose, improper treatment and failure to warn a patient of known risks.
(Q) What happens during a medical malpractice lawsuit?
(A) During your medical malpractice lawsuit, your attorney will obtain all of your medical records and bills that are relevant to the malpractice claim. You attorney may also acquire all of your medical records of any treatment you received that concerns the condition in question in your case. This process can take months.
Upon receipt of medical records, your attorney will review them to determine whether you have a valid medical malpractice case. If your attorney believes that you have a valid malpractice case, your attorney will look for and hire an expert witness. Such a witness is needed in order for the case to proceed to trial.
In most instances, the medical expert is a doctor who practices in the same specialty as the defendant. The expert must have analyzed the medical records, and present an opinion that the defendant was negligent, and that the defendant’s negligence caused your injuries.
Your attorney will then file a complaint, after which the parties will engage in the discovery process. This is where each party conducts an investigation into the other side’s legal claims and defenses. They send interrogatories, or questions, to each other, and take depositions of witnesses in the case, starting with the plaintiff and defendant. In the event the case does not settle, it will go to trial.
(Q) What types of damages are recoverable in a medical malpractice lawsuit?
(A) Usually, in a medical malpractice lawsuit, certain damages are available if your attorney succeeds in proving that your doctor’s negligence caused your injuries. These kinds of economic or non-economic damages, or compensation, include:
- Medical expenses
- Potential future medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Loss of potential future income
- Pain and suffering
- Punitive damages, which generally apply to cases in which the doctor’s conduct was egregious or outrageous
Some states have enacted laws that limit the amount of damages that you can recover in a medical malpractice lawsuit. The majority of these limits apply to non-economic damages, including pain and suffering, which encompass pain, discomfort, scarring, disfigurement, anxiety and stress.
In Florida, there is a $500,000 limit on non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits against defendants who are doctors. The cap rises to $750,000 in lawsuits against defendants who are non-practitioners, such as a corporate health care entity. The cap increases to $1,000,000 if the malpractice caused the plaintiff’s death, or caused the plaintiff to be in a vegetative state.
Call Our Fort Lauderdale Medical Malpractice Lawyers Today
The state of Florida recently ruled to get rid of its damages cap on medical malpractice claims. There used to be a $500,000 maximum on non-economic damages in these cases, and a $1 million cap if the malpractice resulted in death. In June 2017, the Florida Supreme Court ruled this cap “unconstitutional,” abolishing it within the state. To ensure you meet all the requirements and to learn more about these cases in Fort Lauderdale, trust a personal injury attorney. At the Law Offices of Chalik & Chalik, we understand the law in this area and can help you navigate the complex legal system. Call our office today for a free, no obligation consultation.