Parker Waichman LLP – Experienced Medical Malpractice Attorneys in Florida
Advances in medicine have enabled many individuals to live a better life free of symptoms associated with certain medical conditions. Additionally, advances in medicine have helped to save thousands of lives each year. However, despite advances in medicine, medical negligence continues to be a prevalent problem both in and outside of Florida, with medical errors being the third leading cause of death in the United States. We place our trust and health in the hands of medical professionals. While many Floridians recover from medical treatment or surgical procedures without incident, others are not so lucky and have suffered a debilitating injury.
At Parker Waichman LLP, our Florida Medical Malpractice Attorneys assist injured individuals and their loved ones all throughout Florida, helping them fight to hold medical professionals accountable when they make mistakes that have lasting consequences. Because there is no obligation when speaking with our law firm, it is a good idea to consider speaking with us if you believe you or a loved one has suffered at the hands of medical negligence.
Parker Waichman LLP – Obtaining More than $2 Billion in Compensation for Injured Clients
The Florida Medical Malpractice Attorneys of Parker Waichman LLP are nationally-recognized trial lawyers with extensive experience both inside and outside the courtroom. Client-satisfaction is always our priority, and our team of attorneys and paralegals work diligently to ensure all clients are receiving superior legal representation. At Parker Waichman LLP, our firm has recovered more than $2 billion in compensation from settlements and trial verdicts collectively for our clients. Our law firm has experience resolving lawsuits with direct negotiation with the defendant(s), through mediation, through arbitration, and at trial. In recognition of our firm’s continued success in helping injured clients seek and obtain compensation for their suffering, we have received the following honors and designations:
- 8/10 Rating by AVVO (Rating Every Attorney in the U.S.);
- “Preeminent Lawyers” AV Peer Review Rating (Martindale-Hubbell®);
- Highest Ranking of “5 Dragons” Based on Peer Review by Lawdragon; and
- Listing in Best Lawyers Publication Determined by Extensive Peer Review.
Receiving awards, honors and designations demonstrate a firm’s success and reputation in the legal community. However, to truly know whether a law firm is right for your needs and to learn about a particular law firm’s experience, it is important to speak with an attorney about that attorney’s track record and goals for helping you. At Parker Waichman LLP, we encourage prospective clients to contact us to ask questions about our firm’s track record and how we have been able to help so many clients throughout Florida and the rest of the United States.
Florida Medical Malpractice Lawsuits and Settlements
What is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice is considered conduct that falls below the “standard of care” for similarly situated medical professionals. The standard of care is a certain bar that must be met, and this standard is heightened for medical professionals with additional knowledge and expertise in a particular medical field. A medical professional’s conduct is measured by what a reasonably prudent medical professional in the same field would do in the same or similar situation. If a medical professional’s conduct does not meet the standard of care established in a particular medical field, and his/her conduct harms a patient, that doctor may be held liable for the patient’s injuries.
To prove medical negligence, an injured patient must put forth evidence and expert testimony that demonstrates a doctor’s conduct was not reasonable and therefore fell below the standard of care. An injured patient alleging a medical professional was negligent must establish the following:
- The medical professional had a duty to the injured patient to provide care as a reasonably prudent medical professional in the same field would do in the same or similar situation;
- The medical professional breached his or her duty of care to the patient by failing to meet the standard of care;
- The medical professional caused the patient to suffer injuries; and
- The patient’s injuries have resulted in damage, whether physical, mental or financial.
Medical malpractice does not only involve physicians, but involves all medical professions, including, but not limited to: doctors/physicians, chiropractors, nurses, anesthesiologists, radiologists, pharmacists, medical assistants, physical therapists, and psychiatrists. We all make mistakes, but when medical negligence causes a patient to suffer injuries or death, the negligent medical professional should be held accountable. Medical professionals take on a heightened duty of care by treating patients when they become medical professionals. As such, if a patient’s harm is linked to a particular act of medical negligence, that patient may choose to seek legal action to receive compensation for pain, suffering, and monetary losses associated with an injury.
Common Acts of Medical Negligence in Florida
There are numerous ways in which a medical professional can commit an act of negligence, especially given the significant number of medical professions in Florida. A few examples of medical negligence include, among others, the following:
- Surgical errors;
- Failure to diagnose a medical condition;
- Misdiagnosis of a medical condition;
- Delayed diagnosis of a medical condition;
- Anesthesia errors;
- Radiology errors (misinterpreting images such as X-rays, ultrasounds, CT scans, MRIs, mammograms, and ultrasounds, among others);
- Lack of informed consent about the risks of a procedure;
- Medication and prescription errors;
- Birth injuries and injuries to the mother during labor and delivery; and
- Post-operative negligence.
How a medical professional can be negligent are countless, and no two situations are ever exactly alike. As such, speaking with a qualified Florida Medical Malpractice Attorney about a potential case is crucial to determine what your rights are and whether legal action is a possibility.
The Use of Medical Experts in Florida Medical Malpractice Cases
When pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit, it is imperative that a medical expert can conclude that a particular medical professional was negligent, and therefore fell below the standard of care. An expert must testify on behalf of the injured person to explain in what way a particular medical professional was negligent. For example, if a person has filed a lawsuit alleging a radiologist failed to identify a breast cancer tumor on a mammogram or ultrasound, and a medical expert can visualize the breast cancer tumor upon review of the images, the medical expert can testify that the radiologist failed to identify a tumor that a reasonable radiologist in the same situation would not fail to identify.
Medical experts not only testify about a medical professional’s negligence but can also testify about a patient’s injuries and damages. Using the same example above, a medical expert can attest that a patient’s breast cancer is at an advanced stage because a tumor was not properly identified and diagnosed. Had the radiologist properly identified the tumor, then the tumor could have been removed and likely would have prevented the patient’s cancer from spreading.
Regardless of what type of medical malpractice is alleged, a medical expert is necessary when pursuing a lawsuit, as an expert will be required to give his or her opinion on the case in court. However, because all cases are unique, an injured individual must first speak with an attorney before determining whether an expert is needed and if so, what type of medical expert is needed. A vast majority of medical negligence cases require experts, but there may be exceptions that allow for a case to proceed without an expert, and this is a matter that must be discussed with a Florida Medical Malpractice Attorney.
Injuries Associated with Medical Malpractice in Florida
Medical malpractice is an extremely broad area of personal injury law. There are many medical professions, and therefore there can be numerous ways in which a person can suffer at the hands of medical negligence. Therefore, the types of injuries caused by medical negligence can vary greatly. Injuries can be minor, but a significant number of cases of medical malpractice have lasting consequences, and the injuries are permanent or fatal. For example, if a patient under anesthesia does not receive adequate oxygen, brain damage can result, which is a life-changing injury. Additionally, if a patient seeks medical treatment and is not properly diagnosed, this patient could suffer permanent injuries or death if the condition is life-threatening (such as cancer, sepsis, and untreated infections).
The Economic Costs Associated with Florida Medical Malpractice Injuries
The types and severity of medical malpractice injuries are going to depend on the unique facts of a particular person’s situation. But, regardless of the type of injury sustained because of medical malpractice, the financial consequences can be equally stressful and debilitating. In addition to the physical and mental/emotional damages resulting from medical malpractice injuries, the financial cost that goes along with such injuries can turn a person’s life upside down. If a person suffers permanent injuries, he or she may no longer be able to work and therefore make a living. A lack of income may result in the need for financial assistance in the form of government benefits, or bankruptcy to resolve a mountain of debt that may stem from one act of medical malpractice.
When injured patients are footing the bill for injuries caused by a negligent medical professional, they rightfully may seek legal action to receive compensation that can be used to pay for past, present and future medical expenses. Given that the cost of medical care continues to escalate, one injury can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, if not millions, depending on a person’s prognosis. Lifelong medical treatment will certainly take a greater financial toll than an injury that requires temporary medical treatment. Since so much is at stake in a medical malpractice case, anyone who has suffered injuries because of alleged medical malpractice should speak with a legal professional right away.
The Deadline for Filing a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit – What You Should Know
Florida has laws that limit how long a person has to file a lawsuit. Florida provides a longer period to file a lawsuit than many other states. However, the period is still relatively short. Under Florida law, an individual who wishes to file a medical malpractice lawsuit has two years from the date of injury to pursue legal action. If an injury is not identifiable at the time it happens (i.e., if the allegation is a delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis of a medical condition), an injured person has two years from the date he or she learns or “discovers” that medical negligence caused his or her injury. This exception to the general two-year statute of limitations is called the “discovery rule.”
The discovery rule may be applied in a situation where a doctor fails to diagnose cancer. When this happens, the date of diagnosis of cancer would be the day the person learned he or she (1) had cancer, and (2) a doctor failed to diagnose cancer in the past. However, this discovery rule does not allow an individual to file a medical malpractice lawsuit more than four years after the date of the alleged medical negligence. Using the same example of a failure to diagnose cancer, the date of the alleged medical negligence may be the last time a patient saw the doctor who concluded that he or she did not have cancer.
If a person has died because of alleged medical malpractice, a family member, such as a surviving spouse or adult child, may have the option of pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit. In such cases, the family member has two years from the date of death to file the lawsuit. This rule does not have any exceptions, so once the two-year deadline passes, a family member is barred from ever bringing a wrongful death lawsuit in the future.
Overall, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits can be extremely confusing. Therefore, it cannot be stressed enough that injured individuals should act quickly by consulting with a Florida Medical Malpractice Attorney. Every situation is different, and it takes a thorough evaluation of all facts to determine if a case can be filed or if it is too late.
What to Expect When Pursuing a Florida Medical Malpractice Claim
Lawsuits can take a very long time from start to finish, especially if a person’s case is complicated. The Florida court system has a full schedule, so it can take one year or longer to get a trial date set after filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. As such, patience is essential when pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit. While all cases are different, all clients should expect the following general process when pursuing a medical malpractice lawsuit.
- The Initial Intake and Case Consultation/Evaluation – An attorney will review a potential case to determine if there is a viable medical malpractice case to pursue.
- The Decision – An attorney will decide either to move forward with a case or to decline the case and inform the potential client of the reasons why the case is declined.
- The Lawsuit – An attorney may try to settle a case before filing a lawsuit, but if a settlement does not happen, the lawsuit is filed in court.
- The Discovery Phase – After a case is filed, there will be a “discovery” period where documents, such as medical records, are obtained, and depositions are taken of all witnesses as well as medical experts.
- Settlement Negotiations – In most cases, an attorney will negotiate with the opposing party either directly or through mediation to determine if an agreement can be reached before trial.
- The Trial – If a case does not settle, it will go to trial, and a jury will enter a verdict either for the injured plaintiff or defendant medical professional.
- The Appeal – The losing party at trial will likely appeal the decision, and the appeals process can take a very long time, usually two years or longer.
The Florida Medical Malpractice Attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP work diligently to help injured clients seek and receive compensation promptly. However, some cases take longer than others and clients should not be disheartened when their case has not resolved after one year. The ultimate goal is to provide a means for injured victims to hold a negligent medical professional liable for causing unnecessary and often permanent injuries. Compensation cannot undo negligence and cannot undo an injury. But, compensation is the only way and the best way to help injured victims pay for medical treatment and fill the void of lost wages, especially when an injured individual is never able to work again.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) About Florida Medical Malpractice Cases
How do I know if I have been injured because of medical malpractice?
Some personal injuries connected with negligence or malpractice are obvious. For example, if a patient undergoes a spinal fusion procedure and the surgeon operates on the wrong portion of the spine, it will be obvious at the conclusion of the procedure that the surgeon has made a mistake. However, many injuries are not obvious or identifiable right away. For example, if a patient has a cancerous tumor that is missed on diagnostic imaging (such as a CT scan, MRI, mammogram, or ultrasound, etc.), the patient will not know right away that someone has made a mistake. This patient might not realize he or she has cancer until seeing another doctor. As such, there could be a delay from the time a medical professional commits an act of negligence to the time a patient finds out about the negligence.
Can I help a family member proceed with a lawsuit for medical malpractice?
It depends. If you have a family member who has suffered injuries because of alleged medical negligence, you can certainly assist that family member in helping him or her speak with an attorney. However, it is ultimately the injured person who has the decision-making power when speaking with an attorney and pursuing a lawsuit. On the other hand, if you have representative capacity on behalf of your family member, then you may have decision-making power to seek legal action on behalf of your loved one. For example, you may wish to pursue a lawsuit on behalf of your minor child. Or, you may have a sibling who is not mentally competent to make legal decisions. If you have the legal authority to make decisions for your loved one, you may be able to pursue legal action on your loved one’s behalf, but first must review the circumstance with a Florida Medical Malpractice Attorney.
How can I find out if a particular doctor or medical professional has been sued before?
Public records allow us to find out a lot about a person’s past, including, but not limited to, prior lawsuits a person has been involved in. However, a public records search does not always uncover every detail of a person’s past. For example, if a person filed a lawsuit against a doctor, and the case was quickly settled and dismissed, a public records search will not indicate that a case was settled or provide details about the case. As such, some online tools are available that provide information about a medical professional’s lawsuit history, and such devices have been helpful for many people. But, it is not always easy to determine what is accurate and what is not correct. Therefore, it is best to speak with a Florida Medical Malpractice Attorney if you are concerned about a particular medical professional and alleged medical malpractice.
The first attorney I spoke with told me I did not have a case. Should I speak with another attorney?
Yes. When finding the right attorney to evaluate your potential Florida medical malpractice case, getting a second opinion is essential to finding out another perspective on your case. Many attorneys and law firms may turn a case down not because the case is not a good case, but because the attorney or law firm does not have adequate time and resources to handle the case. As such, if you believe you have a potential medical malpractice lawsuit, seek a second, third or even fourth opinion about your situation to ensure you are taking every step to find out if legal action is an option for you.
Contact Parker Waichman LLP Today to Schedule Your Free Consultation
If you or a loved one has endured injuries because of alleged medical malpractice, it is important to speak with a Florida Medical Malpractice Attorney right away, as time is limited to file a claim. At Parker Waichman LLP, our highly skilled Florida Medical Malpractice Attorneys represent clients who have suffered horrific and permanent injuries from acts of medical negligence. Our nationally-recognized trial attorneys represent clients from all throughout Florida, with many of them being from in or around Fort Myers, Naples, Cape Coral, Bonita Springs, Immokalee and Marco Island.
To schedule your free medical malpractice consultation to discuss legal options with one of our Florida Medical Malpractice Attorneys, contact Parker Waichman LLP today by calling 1-(800) YOUR-LAWYER (968-7529). We have a team of Spanish-speaking attorneys, paralegals, and staff members to assist our Spanish-speaking clients.
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