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|Medical Malpractice
Legally Reviewed by:
David Di Pietro
Managing Partner, Medical Malpractice Attorney

Di Pietro Partner's goal is to advocate for you when you need our help. Our team of experienced legal and medical professionals are dedicated to providing high quality informative content. The information on this page and other areas on the website is routinely fact checked, updated, and approved by our team of licensed attorneys and professional editors. If you find any errors, feel free to let us know and we will review the information immediately.

Medical negligence is an unfortunate reality of the healthcare system, resulting in over $3 billion in payouts in 2022, with an average per case of $210,000. Florida alone had over 306.27 million in payouts in 2021, one of the highest in the nation second only to New York. With an aging population in need of significant medical care, it should come as no surprise that there is also a significant amount of medical errors and negligence that occurs just due to the sheer volume of patients.

While the concept of medical negligence is straightforward, there are a number of different aspects that factor into a negligence case and its outcome. To begin with, proving negligence is the foundation of any case, which has several factors to be considered. There are various types of negligence lawsuits as well, which vary depending on the circumstances of the case. Also, it is important to consider the potential payouts for a case. This amount must be enough to cover attorney costs, outstanding medical bills as well as to provide adequate compensation for the victims’ pain and suffering.

Proving Negligence

In order to prove medical negligence in Florida, there must be definitive proof that a reasonable standard of care has been breached. Generally speaking, proving negligence involves gathering evidence in order to show that the standard itself was broken. What defines the standard however, can be a bit more tricky. This involves a nuanced interpretation of what constitutes acceptable medical practice in given circumstances. This is not a fixed set of rules but rather a dynamic benchmark that adapts to the evolving state of medical knowledge, technology, and practices.

There are several factors that play into this standard and proving negligence, which include:

  1. Definition and Context: The reasonable standard of care is defined by what a similarly qualified practitioner would do under similar circumstances. This standard is inherently comparative and relies on the norms and practices of the medical community at the time. It takes into account factors such as the type of medical practice, the patient’s condition, and the medical knowledge available at the time of treatment.
  2. Expert Testimony: In court, determining whether a healthcare provider met the reasonable standard of care often requires expert testimony. Experts in the same field as the defendant will offer their professional opinion on whether the care provided aligned with what could be reasonably expected of a practitioner in that specialty. This testimony helps the court or jury understand complex medical issues and establish the prevailing standards in the relevant medical community.
  3. Evolving Standards: Medical standards are not static; they evolve with advancements in medical science, technology, and changes in health care policies. What was considered a reasonable standard of care a decade ago might not be the same today. This evolving nature requires healthcare providers to stay current with developments in their field.
  4. Individualized Assessment: The standard of care takes into account the specifics of each patient’s case. This means that what is reasonable in one scenario might not be in another. Factors like a patient’s medical history, age, underlying conditions, and even personal preferences can influence what constitutes reasonable care.
  5. Documenting Care: Part of meeting the standard of care involves adequately documenting the medical decisions made and the care provided. This documentation can be crucial in defending against claims of negligence, as it provides a record that the healthcare provider acted reasonably and in line with the accepted standards.
  6. Impact of Regulations and Guidelines: Healthcare providers also need to adhere to state and federal regulations, as well as guidelines set by medical boards and professional organizations. These guidelines often help define what is considered reasonable care, although compliance with these guidelines alone does not automatically equate to meeting the standard of care.

Types of Negligence Lawsuits

In medical negligence claims in Florida, calculating non-economic damages can be complex due to their subjective nature. These damages encompass various aspects, including:

Pain and Suffering: This category includes both physical and mental pain resulting from injuries, such as nerve damage or neck injuries. Victims may be eligible for compensation for these pains, and our team can help investigate your case for potential recovery.

Mental Anguish: Emotional distress, or mental anguish, forms a significant part of a medical malpractice claim. Victims can seek compensation for psychological impacts like depression, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The profound effects of mental anguish on medical malpractice victims can be life-altering, and our team at James Horne Law is ready to assist in filing claims.

Disfigurement: This involves changes to a patient’s appearance post-injury, such as permanent scarring, especially on visible areas like the face. Disfigurement can hinder everyday activities, employment opportunities, and even mobility if it affects the flexibility of body parts. Our experienced team is available to support victims of medical malpractice in pursuing their rightful compensation.

Who Is Held Responsible?

While everyone thinks of doctors when discussing medical negligence cases, there are other individuals in the medical system who can be held responsible for negligence when things go wrong. These professionals are just as responsible for providing proper care to their patients as the doctors themselves. The most common of these are:

  • Physicians Assistants
  • Chiropractor
  • Dentists
  • In-home health aides
  • Radiologists
  • Pharmacists
  • Optometrists
  • Alternative medicine providers
  • Nurses
  • Psychiatrists
  • EMTs and paramedics
  • Pharmacy technicians
  • Anesthesiologists

In addition to individual responsibility, non-individuals can also be held accountable for acts of medical negligence.

Vicarious Liability

In the realm of healthcare, institutions like hospitals and clinics, which are the employers of healthcare professionals, can find themselves entangled in legal issues under the principle of vicarious liability. This concept essentially means that an organization can be held legally accountable for the actions or omissions of its employees. There are several scenarios where this might apply:

  1. If the healthcare facility did not conduct thorough background checks or verify qualifications during the hiring process of its staff, it could be held liable.
  2. In situations where there is a failure in executing necessary clinical tests, the institution might be responsible.
  3. The facility could also face legal consequences if it does not maintain a safe environment for patients, falling under premises liability issues.
  4. A lack of sufficient staffing, leading to subpar patient care, can also attract liability.
  5. Negligence in maintaining comprehensive medical records is another area of potential liability.
  6. Additionally, if a healthcare facility fails to appropriately treat an uninsured individual during an emergency situation, this could lead to legal repercussions.

The underlying obligation of a healthcare facility is to ensure that every patient receives a certain standard of care. Failing to meet this standard could result in the facility being deemed liable in a legal sense.

Moreover, there are circumstances where it is feasible to initiate a legal claim that involves multiple parties, broadening the scope of responsibility and potential legal redress.

Seeking Damages & Potential Payouts

The potential payout in medical negligence lawsuits in Florida can vary significantly based on the specifics of each case. These payouts are designed to compensate the injured patient for various damages resulting from the medical professional’s negligence. There are several types of damages that can be awarded:

Economic Damages: These include tangible, quantifiable costs such as medical expenses, both past and future, and lost wages or loss of earning capacity. Economic damages are typically easier to calculate as they are based on actual financial losses incurred or projected due to the injury.

Non-Economic Damages: These damages are awarded for intangible losses such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, and loss of consortium. The calculation of non-economic damages is more subjective and can vary widely. In Florida, there were previously caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases, but a 2017 Florida Supreme Court decision in North Broward Hospital District v. Kalitan declared these caps unconstitutional in personal injury cases, leading to potentially higher payouts for non-economic damages.

Punitive Damages: While less common in medical malpractice cases, punitive damages can be awarded in cases where the defendant’s conduct is found to be particularly egregious or reckless. These damages are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar conduct in the future. Florida law limits punitive damages to three times the amount of compensatory damages or $500,000, whichever is greater, but these limits can be higher in cases involving intentional misconduct or gross negligence.

The total payout in a medical negligence case in Florida will depend on factors such as the severity and permanency of the injury, the impact on the victim’s life, the degree of negligence, and the costs of ongoing medical care. Each case is unique, and the awarded amounts can vary greatly.

It’s important to note that Florida follows a pure comparative negligence rule, which means that if the plaintiff is found to be partly at fault for their injury, their compensation will be reduced by their percentage of fault. This can also affect the final payout amount in a medical negligence lawsuit. Given the complexities involved in calculating damages and the individual nature of each case, the potential payout in medical negligence lawsuits in Florida can range from relatively modest sums to multi-million dollar awards in more severe cases.

Contact Us

If you believe you or a loved one has been a victim of medical negligence, it is important to take action as soon as possible. This isn’t just because of Florida’s statute of limitations on medical negligence and malpractice cases, but also because you deserve the best possible medical care.

The team of expert medical malpractice and negligence attorneys at Di Pietro Partners is standing by ready to assist you in your medical negligence case. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.

This article was legally reviewed by David Di Pietro. David has been a practicing healthcare and medical malpractice lawyer for over a decade. Throughout this time, he’s represented client’s through various complex issues involving the healthcare system. This includes misdiagnosis, missed strokes, child birth injuries, medication errors and more. He regularly appears on national TV to provide his expertise on well known medical malpractice/personal injury matters such as the multi billion dollar Purdue Pharma Opioid Lawsuit. David is an experienced and aggressive trial attorney that has tried over fifty (50) jury trials and numerous bench trials. David is also a member of the Trial Lawyers and Health Law Sections of the Florida Bar.

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