Medical malpractice is a common and growing problem in the U.S. In 2017, medical malpractice lawsuits resulted in over $3.9 billion in payouts for victims, with $260 million in Florida alone, up 17% from 2016.
If you believe that your injuries or those of a loved one occurred due to negligence or recklessness of a medical professional, help is available. A medical malpractice attorney can assess your case and could help you recover damages such as medical bills, income losses, and others. Contact Harrell & Harrell for a free consultation now at (904) 251-1111.
If you’re wanting to know: What is medical malpractice? Just how common is it? How can a personal injury lawyer help me? Read on as we go into more detail about this specific practice area of personal injury.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional acts negligently and in a manner that does not meet the standard of care, causing injury, illness, or death to the patient. In order to qualify as medical malpractice, a case must meet the following criteria:
- A medical professional/patient relationship existed, establishing that the medical professional had a duty to provide medical treatment up to the standard of care.
- The medical professional was negligent, i.e., not reasonably skillful and careful to provide care as expected of any reasonable professional.
- The medical professional’s failure to act reasonably in regard to the standard of care led directly to an injury, illness, or the death of the patient.
- The injury inflicted by the medical professional caused damages to the patient.
Patients injured as a result of medical negligence often choose to bring medical malpractice suits against the medical professionals involved. The purpose of a medical malpractice suit is to seek compensation for damages incurred as a result of the injury. These damages may include:
- Additional medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Lost wages and loss of future income
- Changes to home or lifestyle
Does Medical Malpractice Occur Often?
In the last few years, medical errors were the third-leading cause of death, behind only heart disease and cancer. In fact, over an eight-year period ending in 2016, a study by Johns Hopkins patient safety team found that an average of 250,000 people die every year as a result of medical negligence. Some common forms of medical malpractice in the Jacksonville area include:
- Misdiagnoses, or doctor failure to diagnose illness
- Birth-related injuries
- Operating room errors
- Medication or anesthesia errors
Medical malpractice can apply to more than just doctors and nurses. Anyone providing medical care can be responsible for malpractice – sometimes even hospital administrators and support staff.
Do I Need a Medical Malpractice Lawyer for My Case?
The legal system allows for self-representation in all types of lawsuits, including medical malpractice cases. While you do not have to hire a lawyer, it is strongly advisable to work with an experienced attorney and legal team since medical malpractice cases can be particularly challenging and costly to litigate.
The Stakes Are High in Medical Malpractice Cases
Medical malpractice cases often involve significant damages, especially if the patient suffered a catastrophic or permanent injury. Individuals may require expensive medical treatments and assistance with tasks of daily living for the rest of their lives. Medical malpractice claims are typically contested and lengthy, and involve one or several expert witnesses, which can all add considerable costs to a lawsuit.
Medical Malpractice Involves Complex Legal Issues
The harmed patient has to prove, with ample evidence, that the medical professional in question breached the medical standard of care. Simply making an error while treating you does not necessarily give grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. Moreover, in some cases, medical malpractice can involve several defendants, a medical institution, and various insurance companies, all complicating a lawsuit.
A Medical Malpractice Attorney Can Fight for You
Most doctors have malpractice liability insurance and may be represented by a team of lawyers who are highly motivated and experienced in fighting medical malpractice claims. Victims should consider seeking legal representation by an attorney with a successful track record and the resources to fight a potentially lengthy and expensive case. A good malpractice attorney will also have access to highly qualified and authoritative medical expert witnesses.
How Much Is My Medical Malpractice Case Worth?
Every medical malpractice case is unique. Without assessing the facts of your individual case and injuries, it can be difficult to provide an initial estimate of the value of your case. However, you can potentially seek special damages and general damages with a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Special damages typically come with receipts and can be calculated to the dollar. Examples of special damages include but are not limited to:
- Lost earnings
- Medical bills
- Household assistance
- Transport costs
- Out-of-pocket expenses
Medical malpractice victims that suffered extensive injuries could pursue general damages in addition to special damages, including:
- Physical and mental pain and suffering
- Loss of life enjoyment
- Permanent disability
Since general damages can be subjective and challenging to calculate, settlement negotiations between a victim and the defendant’s insurance company can get highly contested. A seasoned malpractice lawyer from Harrell & Harrell can calculate your damages accurately and leave no stone unturned in fighting for what you deserve.
Can I Afford a Medical Malpractice Lawyer?
The medical malpractice lawyers at Harrell & Harrell believe that those hurt by the carelessness of another are entitled to justice and legal representation, regardless of their financial means. We work on a contingency basis, meaning you do not pay any attorney’s fees unless and until we win your case. We only get paid when you receive a settlement.
How Long Do I Have to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
According to Florida Statute 95.11(4)(b), individuals generally have two years from the discovery of their injury to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, it can be difficult to determine when the clock starts running. In some cases, individuals could have four years or even longer to file a case.
Moreover, Florida has some specific laws and requirements that can complicate filing a medical malpractice lawsuit. Victims of malpractice have to file a “notice of intent” before they can initiate a medical malpractice lawsuit. Notice of intent must include a statement from a medical professional (affidavit of merit) stating that the harmed individual has a valid claim.
There are other distinct rules and regulations when it comes to filing a medical malpractice case in Florida. Working with an experienced medical malpractice lawyer can be vital for protecting your right to legal recourse and compensation. Contact us now to ensure you file your claim in a timely manner.
What Should I Do if a Loved One Died Due to Medical Malpractice?
Having a loved one pass away due to medical negligence can be devastating. If a close relative died due to a medical error, you should seek legal advice as soon as possible since you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit and recover damages such as:
- Income and benefits of the deceased
- Loss of companionship
- Cost of medical treatments
- Pain and suffering
- Burial and funeral expenses
How Can a Medical Malpractice Lawyer Help?
An experienced team of medical malpractice lawyers has the knowledge necessary to deal with aggressive insurance companies and lawyers that will be on the hospital’s side – you won’t be pressured to accept a low settlement that does not adequately compensate you for your injuries. A lawyer can analyze your medical records and other documentation and work with trusted medical experts to build an understanding of the negligence that led to your injury.
Medical Malpractice Requires Knowledge of Medicine and Law
The experienced medical malpractice attorneys at Harrell & Harrell have an understanding of complex medical and legal issues and can help you in several ways:
- Determine whether you have a good case
- Gather and organize evidence supporting your claim
- Communicate with the relevant insurance companies
- Identify the extent of your present and future losses
- Determine all liable parties in your case
- Providing expert medical witnesses to strengthen your claim
- Work tirelessly for the best possible outcome
- Represent your case strongly at trial
Medical malpractice claims can be complex and lengthy. Contacting a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible after discovering an injury can be an excellent way to protect your rights and begin the fight for what you deserve.
Contact Harrell & Harrell Today
Medical malpractice can ruin the lives of victims and cause great financial hardship. Knowing that adequate medical treatment could have avoided physical and emotional suffering and costly medical treatments can feel devastating and frustrating. However, you should not have to deal with the financial burden caused by another’s negligence. You could have the right to hold irresponsible medical providers to account for your injuries and financial losses.
You do not need to struggle through a medical malpractice lawsuit on your own. The dedicated and compassionate medical malpractice attorneys at Harrell & Harrell have helped countless injured clients recover their due. We are here for you, too. Contact us today at (904) 251-1111 to find out whether you have a case and could recover compensation.