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The Basics of Florida Medical Malpractice

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider's mistake injures a patient. However, not all medical mistakes constitute medical malpractice. In addition, each state sets its own medical malpractice laws, which means Florida malpractice is unique to Florida.

If you live in Florida and have been injured as a result of an error by a healthcare professional or facility, you may have a legitimate medical malpractice claim. It is important to contact a Florida medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible after your injury occurs, so that you can start filing a case.

In the meantime, learn as much about Florida medical malpractice as possible to prepare yourself for your lawsuit.

What Is Florida Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare professional is negligent. Negligence means that the healthcare professional violated his or her standard of care when treating a patient.

In Florida, the standard of care is defined as the level of care, skill, and treatment which, given all the facts of the patient and his or her condition, is recognized as acceptable and appropriate by reasonably prudent similar healthcare providers. The standard of care will vary from state to state and depends on a number of factors, including the patient's age and specific medical condition.

Florida Statute of Limitations

All states set their own limits on how long a patient can wait to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. In Florida, this statute of limitations is two years from when the patient knew or should have known that an injury occurred and that it was likely due to medical malpractice.

Furthermore, there is an additional limitation on Florida medical malpractice claims. Specifically, this limit is known as the statute of repose, which states that unless there are extenuating circumstances, healthcare providers may not be sued for medical malpractice more than four years after the malpractice incident occurs. This means you must realize you've been the victim of medical malpractice within four years after the negligent medical incident occurred or else you will not be able to file a lawsuit.

However, the exceptions to the statute of repose include cases where fraud, concealment, or misrepresentation was perpetrated on behalf of the medical provider. In such cases, patients may still have an opportunity to file suit despite the expiration of the statute of repose.

This is one of the reasons why it is critical for you to contact a Florida medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible after the incident occurs.

How Long Will My Florida Medical Malpractice Case Take?

A number of factors will influence how long your Florida medical malpractice claim will take to be resolved. For the most part, medical malpractice lawsuits are very lengthy and often very expensive. Because they require both legal and medical knowledge to assess a case, costly expert witnesses must often be relied upon to make sense of medical evidence to help you prove your case.

Oftentimes, you will not just be dealing with the healthcare provider. Most of the time you will be dealing with the Florida malpractice insurance carrier. This is the company that provides the healthcare provider with his or her medical malpractice insurance. These companies tend to have vast and knowledgeable legal teams that will fight vigorously to defeat your claim.

Do not expect your Florida malpractice case to be resolved within a span of weeks. Medical malpractice cases can take months and often years to conclude.

Florida Medical Malpractice Damages

Some states have set limits on how much money you can try to win in a medical malpractice case. This money is known as damages, and it is intended to compensate an injured patient for medical costs and lost wages due to days of missed work, as well as pain and suffering.

In Florida, there are caps placed on non-economic damages. Non-economic damages are those that compensate an injured patient for pain and suffering. The cap on total non-economic damages in Florida is $1 million.

Florida also places a cap on punitive damages. Punitive damages are paid to punish wrongdoing. A Florida medical malpractice case will only include punitive damages if the patient can prove that the healthcare professional meant to cause serious harm.