As a society, we place a large amount of trust on doctors and healthcare professionals to take care of us during times of illness and injury. This trust is based on the fact that medical professionals spend many years learning and crafting expertise in specific fields so that they can accurately and effectively diagnose and treat individuals safely. Unfortunately, medical malpractice happens all too often as mistakes occur and human error can cause you or a loved one significant injury.
According to statistics posted on the American Association for Justice, there are 98,000 preventable deaths each year that happen due to medical malpractice. There are also many more patients who are injured because of negligence on the part of a medical professional. It’s important to seek legal help immediately if you feel you've been a victim of medical malpractice as these cases can cause you and your family undue physical and financial pain and suffering.
At the Hickey Law Firm, P.A., our medical malpractice trial attorneys have the knowledge and experience to pursue the compensation you deserve. Please contact us online or call us at 305-371-8000 for a free case evaluation today. We proudly serve clients in the Miami, Florida, area and nationwide.
- What Is Medical Malpractice?
- How Difficult Is It to Prove a Medical Malpractice Case?
- What Needs to Be Proven in a Medical Malpractice Case?
- Types of Medical Malpractice
- What Is the Statute of Limitation for Medical Malpractice Cases in Miami, FL?
- Injuries from Surgical Errors
- Injuries from Prescription Errors
- Birth Injuries
- What Kind of Evidence Is Needed for the Case?
- How Can I Prepare for My Case in Court?
- How Long Can a Medical Malpractice Case Take?
- Compensation You May Receive
- Get a FREE Review of Your Medical Malpractice Case
Medical malpractice takes place when an individual who seeks medical help is harmed by a doctor, or another medical professional, who doesn’t perform his or her duties to the level that is expected. This can happen by the action, or inaction, of a medical professional that results in personal injury.
This type of case can be complicated, in that negligence on behalf of a medical professional does not necessarily equate to medical malpractice. There are certain basic requirements for proving malpractice occurred for a successful claim. That’s where our experienced attorneys can help. The basic tenants of malpractice that we can help you with include:
- Showing a doctor-patient relationship existed: You must show that you, or the victim, had a relationship with the medical professional that caused the injury. You must have hired the doctor or have been treated by the medical professional. A consulting physician who did not treat you can raise questions of whether a relationship existed.
- The medical professional was negligent: To successfully pursue a malpractice claim, you must show that the medical professional acted negligently in your diagnosis or treatment. Nearly all states require that the patient have a medical expert confirm that the negligent party deviated from the appropriate “standard of care” for healthcare professionals.
- The negligence caused the injury: The burden is placed on the patient to prove that the doctor or medical professional’s negligence is what caused the injury. They must show that it is more likely than not that the doctor’s negligence directly caused the injury. A medical expert can testify to this as well.
- The injury led to damages: Even if a doctor or healthcare professional acted negligently, a patient cannot pursue a malpractice claim if no injury or harm occurred. Examples of damages patients can pursue compensation for include physical pain, mental anguish, additional medical bills, disfigurement, scarring, and lost work and earning capacity.
All states have a statute of limitations for when a patient can pursue a medical malpractice claim. In the state of Florida, one must file a claim within two years of the date in which the injury resulting from the negligence occurred. There is also a blanket deadline of four years from the date of the alleged malpractice and a period of a two-year extension if fraud is involved. Our experienced medical malpractice attorneys can help you navigate the specifics of Florida’s statute of limitations.
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It is extremely difficult to prove a medical malpractice claim. This is one of the most compelling reasons to work with an attorney. Data shows that physicians win 80 to 90% of claims with weak evidence and nearly 70% of cases with moderate evidence. Even with strong evidence, physicians win around 50% of medical malpractice claims. Without an attorney on your side, it is highly unlikely that you will prevail in court against a negligence healthcare provider.
To establish that medical malpractice has occurred, four things must be shown: A professional duty was owed to the patient That duty was breached through negligence, mismanagement, or other factors The breach resulted in injury to the patient The injury has resulted in damages It is important to remember that some risk is inherent in medical care and not all injury sustained while in the care of a provider is malpractice.
The best way to determine if you have cause to file suit is through a one-on-one consultation with an experienced medical malpractice attorney.
Doctors’ “standard of care” is taught as the minimum required in order to treat each patient. A typical definition of standard of care is “the type and level of care an ordinary, prudent, health care professional, with the same training and experience, would provide under similar circumstances in the same community.”
There are many ways in which a doctor or medical professional can deviate from the standard of care and cause you harm through their negligence. The three main types of medical malpractice that can cause injury which include:
- Misdiagnosis: This happens when a doctor or medical professional doesn't discover the patient’s illness or concludes a wrong diagnosis which leads to further injury, illness, or death.
- Improper treatment: This can occur when a medical professional does not treat symptoms as another competent doctor would, or if the doctor or medical professional administers the appropriate treatment incorrectly which results in a negative outcome.
- Failure to warn of risks: Medical professionals have a duty to adequately warn patients of known risks of procedures, treatments, and medications known as the duty of informed consent. If this duty is not performed and a patient is injured from the treatment, a medical malpractice suit may be filed.
As mentioned above, there are many types of injuries that can occur due to the three types of medical malpractice, such as a doctor leaving an instrument in a patient’s body during surgery to failing to tell a patient about side-effects for certain medications. In the sections below we’ll touch on a few of these injuries and the serious effects they can have on you and your family.
The statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims in the state of Florida is two years under most circumstances. In cases where the injury was not immediately discoverable, the statute of limitations may be extended to four years.
In cases involving children, the statute of limitations is slightly different due to injuries that may be sustained during birth but not recognizable until a child is older. In these cases, parents can file a claim within two years of discovering the injury up to the child’s eighth birthday. It is never a good idea to wait to file a claim. If you or your child has suffered injury through medical malpractice, the sooner you take action, the higher your chances of a successful claim.
Surgeons and those who assist them have undeniably difficult jobs. The law recognizes that surgery is a complicated, sensitive endeavor and that a tragic outcome is not always cause for a medical malpractice claim. However, the fact remains that a patient is intensely vulnerable during surgery. You’re putting your life in another person’s hands and that means the surgeon and his or her team carry significant responsibilities.
As with all medical malpractice claims, claims regarding surgical errors revolve around the concept of standard of care. Unfortunately, preventable surgical errors kill thousands of Americans every year. The difficulty of major surgery does not mean that it’s impossible to hold surgeons and other medical professionals accountable for their mistakes.
Common examples of surgical errors include:
- Anesthesia errors
- Amputation of the wrong limb
- Unnecessary damage to surrounding tissue, ligaments and nerves
- Surgical instruments left in patients
The above are examples of unacceptable mistakes which often prove fatal to innocent patients. We can help you if you were injured or if you lost a loved one due to an avoidable surgical error. Our lawyers are skilled at looking into these cases and determining if you have a reasonable claim.
When a pharmacy incorrectly fills a prescription, this error can be extremely serious. At the Hickey Law Firm, we have decades of experience with medical malpractice cases against drug producers, distributors, and pharmacies that make mistakes when distributing prescriptions.
There have been times where the cases were due to the inexperience and negligence of a pharmaceutical assistant as well. Sometimes, these assistants are untrained and unlicensed, and their lack of experience was the basis of a labor dispute case between Walgreen's and its unionized pharmacists in Illinois.
Your pharmacist has a duty to ensure that the prescriptions you are receiving are not only in accordance with what your physician prescribed, but also to double-check the prescription for reactions with any of your other medications. Your pharmacist should also give you a general description of your prescription and its application, side effects, and warnings. Failure to do these things, along with several other mistakes can lead to severe, if not fatal side effects.
Our Miami lawyers have encountered many breaches of duty on the part of pharmacies, including the following:
- Inadequate training
- Lack of prescription review, resulting in mistakes
- Pharmacy rushing to complete orders and making mistakes
- Failure to establish and maintain an appropriate “continuous quality improvement program” as required by Florida Administrative Code 64B16-27.300
- Failure to call the physician or have the physician called to clarify the amount of the dosage of the prescription
- Failure to counsel the patient or the patient’s agent about the dosage in violation of Florida Administrative Code 64B16-27.820
- Failure to interpret and assess the prescription order for potential adverse reactions, interactions, and dosage regimen
In Florida, the pharmacy and the pharmacist have a duty of due care which arises under Florida case law and under the Florida Pharmaceutical Regulatory Statutes and Administrative Code. In addition to the pharmacist's duties to provide an exceptional level of care, the pharmacy is equally responsible for the care of its patients.
The process of giving birth can be a painful, uncomfortable, and anxiety-inducing experience. We trust doctors and other medical professionals to keep our children safe as they're brought into the world. And there's no doubt that most of them are caring, conscientious professionals who strive to do their best for your child.
However, the fact remains that these professionals, no matter how well-intentioned, can make mistakes. And when medical malpractice occurs during child birth, your new child can suffer an injury that lingers for the rest of his or her life.
Birth injury cases, like all medical malpractice claims, revolve around standards of care. The fact that a birth injury occurred is not, in and of itself, evidence of medical malpractice. Instead, you must demonstrate that the medical professional in question violated a widely accepted standard for treatment or diagnosis, and in doing so, caused your child's injury.
We have significant experience evaluating potential cases and determining if there's a viable claim. Common birth injuries include:
- Erb's palsy
- Cerebral palsy
- Damage to the limbs
- Lack of oxygen, causing brain damage and other injuries
This is not an exhaustive list, but it provides a sound foundation for understanding the seriousness of these injuries. The tragedy of a birth injury is that its effects are not just short-term in nature.
Many birth injuries simply cannot be treated and your child will be dealing with them for the rest of his or her life. They'll have to deal with the pain, discomfort, and inconvenience of the injury, but the injury can also dramatically hurt your child's ability to work and earn a living. This is why it's so important to vigorously pursue compensation after a birth injury.
Evidence needed for a medical malpractice claim includes a record of your medical history, details of the event that resulted in injury, documentation related to the consequences of the injury, and testimony from expert witnesses.
To prove malpractice, it must be established that a relationship existed between doctor and patient, the doctor injured the patient through breach of duty, and the injury has resulted in damages such as new medical expenses, lost wages, and personal pain and suffering. Any evidence that can point to these things will be needed to help ensure a positive outcome for your claim.
In preparation for a medical malpractice claim, it will be necessary to hire expert witnesses, such as medical professionals, and to gather all information related to your health, the conditions leading to your injury, and more. It is not advisable to try and prepare your case on your own. This is something best left in the hands of a qualified legal team.
Medical malpractice cases can take up to five years to settle, longer if the case goes to trial. The amount of time a claim takes is dependent on several factors including the complexity of the injury, the amount of time that has passed since the injury occurred, and the number of providers involved in the suit.
Every case is unique. Some may settle within a year or two while others may take much longer. Having an experienced attorney on your side helps to ensure you are kept informed as your claim progresses.
Injuries resulting from medical malpractice can have devastating effects on you and your entire family. Because of the serious injuries that can occur, you may need rehabilitation or expensive additional, unexpected medical bills can saddle your family with unwanted debt. When your injury is caused by the negligence of a trusted medical professional, you deserve justice and fair compensation to take that financial burden off your shoulders and bring some peace of mind to your loved ones.
Regardless of what types of injuries you sustained, our goal is to get compensation for you. We will fight to recover damages for:
- Additional medical expenses
- Physical and emotional therapy
- Lost wages
- Diminished earning capacity
- Pain and suffering
- Funeral expenses (wrongful death cases)
It’s difficult to determine if a given case qualifies as medical malpractice or is, instead, simply a tragic case that is not legally actionable. Our Miami medical malpractice lawyers understand the difference. They know the relevant standards of care and are always open and up-front with you about your case.
If you need an experienced medical malpractice lawyer, please call the Hickey Law Firm, P.A. today at 305-371-8000 or contact us online for a free consultation. We proudly serve clients in Miami, all of Florida, and nationwide.