How Do You Prove Medical Negligence in Florida?
In this brief overview of how to prove medical malpractice in Florida, Miami medical negligence lawyer Prosper Shaked discusses a few important details that every plaintiff should know, such as what elements go into a successful malpractice claim; how long you have to file a medical malpractice lawsuit in Florida; and what types of evidence may be helpful for proving that you were a victim of medical negligence.
What Are the Elements of a Medical Negligence Lawsuit in Florida?
Every medical malpractice case is different. However, there are certain rules that apply to all malpractice lawsuits. For example, the injury victim always has the “burden of proof.” This means the victim, or plaintiff, is responsible for proving that his or her injuries were caused by the defendant, rather than natural causes or bad luck.
Because the plaintiff has the burden of proof, he or she must show that certain facts or elements were true. No matter what type of doctor, procedure, or medical condition is involved in the case, the plaintiff is required to prove the following basic facts:
- There was a “duty of care.” Hospitals and physicians have a duty of care toward patients who have been admitted for treatment. That means they must meet certain standards when providing medical care, such as ensuring that instruments have been sterilized before use.
- The duty of care was breached. Depending on the situation, there are numerous ways in which a healthcare provider potentially breaches, or fails to meet, the duty of care. Examples could include failures to diagnose, misdiagnoses, surgical errors, medication errors, or unreasonable delays before performing a surgery.
- The patient was somehow harmed as a result. To have a medical malpractice case, you must have suffered some sort of harm as a result of your doctor’s breach of duty, such as nerve damage, loss of the use of a limb, or medical bills resulting from doctor negligence in Florida.
How Do You Prove Medical Malpractice Caused an Injury, Illness, or Death?
When you suffer an injury or illness due to a doctor’s medical error, you may be able to recover financial compensation by filing a lawsuit against a hospital, doctor, or other parties who contributed to your injuries. However, medical malpractice lawsuits follow unique rules and timelines that set them apart from other types of personal injury cases, such as a car accident claim or slip and fall lawsuit.
For example, the victim must show how his or her doctor deviated from normal, acceptable standards of care. This usually requires making an in-depth investigation into the patient’s medical records, the treating physician’s background, and the protocols that were in place at a hospital, clinic, or private practice. Medical experts can also provide indispensable information that may help to prove your case.
Medical Malpractice Evidence + Investigations
A thorough investigation is critical to proving that medical mistakes or negligence caused your illness or injuries. Your attorney will facilitate the process of obtaining medical records, which often creates unexpected challenges for injury victims who lack legal representation. Your lawyer will also coordinate with appropriately qualified medical experts, whose opinions can support and strengthen your case. Useful forms of evidence that may be uncovered during an investigation into potential medical malpractice include, but are not limited, the following items and sources of data:
- Medical billing and invoices
- Notices or letters from your doctor or other care providers
- Notices or letters from your health insurance company
- Opinions from medical experts who possess relevant expertise and credentials
- Personal notes or records that you might have kept regarding your care (such as notes about side effects you were experiencing, or appointments you scheduled)
- Prescription slips, pill bottles, or other physical evidence
- Scans, photographs, X-rays, or other medical images, where available
How Long Do You Have to Sue Your Doctor for Medical Errors in Florida?
A rule known as the “statute of limitations” creates a deadline for filing your medical malpractice lawsuit in Florida. The Florida medical malpractice statute of limitations is two years, which is how long you have from the time of injury to sue your doctor or other parties.
There is an exception known as the “discovery rule,” which allows extra time to sue in situations where an injury is not discovered until many months or years have already passed. However, it is in your best interests to act as early as possible, while vital evidence is still well-preserved.
Ask a Miami Medical Malpractice Lawyer if You Have a Case
Medical malpractice is an exceptionally complex area of the law in Florida. If your injuries were caused by a medical error, be sure to choose an attorney who is qualified to handle your case, like Miami personal injury attorney Prosper Shaked. For a free legal consultation, call The Law Offices of Prosper Shaked at (305) 694-2676, or contact us online today.