Orlando Attorneys Specializing in Medical Negligence
No one expects to be hurt by a healthcare professional.
When you go to the doctor, you trust that they are going to make you stop hurting, that the surgeon will fix what is wrong with you, and that nurses and hospital staff will give you all the care and support you need to truly heal.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case.
Between 210,000 and 440,000 patients in hospitals suffer some type of preventable harm that leads to their deaths every single year. A 2016 report in U.S. News placed the number at a minimum of 250,000 and noted that this accounts for approximately 10% of all deaths in the U.S. each year (some researchers believe these counts are low, and that many cases are not reported). These numbers may be controversial, but one fact is not:
When a healthcare professional makes a serious mistake that hurts someone, he or she should be held responsible for what’s been done. This means providing compensation to the patient for medical bills and additional treatments, lost time at work, pain, emotional suffering, and more expenses caused by the mistake.
A medical malpractice lawsuit is a strong step toward recovering your losses. Our legal team at Orlando’s Faiella & Gulden, P.A., has extensive experience with the difficulties inherent in these claims and has pursued successful results for its clients. When you call (407) 647-6111 for a free consultation, our compassionate medical malpractice attorneys will sit down with you to hear your story and explain your options for medical and financial recovery.
What Is "Medical Malpractice"?
When a doctor, hospital, or healthcare provider causes harm to a patient, that’s unfortunate. If the cause of this harm was negligence, then that’s medical malpractice.
There are two aspects to medical malpractice: "standard of care," and "breach of duty." A medical professional has a much higher standard of care to his patients than an average Joe does. The doctor is expected to give the same care that another doctor, in the same practice area and situation, would provide to a patient. When the doctor does NOT act "reasonably" by doing what another doctor would do in such a situation, and a patient is harmed, that doctor has breached their duty of care to that patient.
According to Florida law, An "action for medical malpractice" is defined as a claim in tort or in contract for damages because of the death, injury, or monetary loss to any person arising out of any medical, dental, or surgical diagnosis, treatment, or care by any provider of health care.
Medical mistakes are one thing - doctors are human. Negligence is another, and cannot be tolerated.
What Kinds of Mistakes Lead to Medical Malpractice?
Not every hospital or physician error is grounds for a "med mal" lawsuit. Historically, these are the causes of med mal cases that most often go to court (this is not a complete list, by far):
- Diagnostic errors. Missed diagnoses accounted for around 22% of medical malpractice claims, according to a study published in 2017. Patients who suffer these errors are 2.33 times more risk of death. For example, a doctor misses an early-stage cancer diagnosis, and the disease progresses to where it’s not treatable.
- Medication errors. This growing problem affects about 1.5 million people each year, and costs billions of dollars. This is a major problem because an estimated four out of five U.S. adults takes some form of medication.
- Surgical errors. During surgery, the body is in a fragile state and completely at the mercy of surgeons, anesthesiologists, assistants, and nurses. Slicing the wrong nerve, rupturing an artery, not maintaining blood supply, or leaving a surgical sponge in the patient’s abdomen are all examples of surgical errors.
- Hospital infections. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, every day in the U.S., about 1 in 25 patients contracts an infection. When these infections are caused by poor cleaning practices, improperly sterilized tools, or doctors and nurses not scrubbing their hands properly, they are completely avoidable.
- Miscommunication. Many injuries, especially birth injuries, arise from poor communication between doctors and nurses.
Florida’s Medical Malpractice Rules
Statute of limitations
A "statute of limitations" is a deadline for filing a civil lawsuit after an "incident" - that is, the cause of the harm or death to a person. Usually, time starts running out from the moment the incident occurs. Every state has its own deadlines, and these deadlines vary. Florida’s statute of limitations for medical malpractice is:
- Two years from the time of the incident, or within two years of the discovery of the incident (or when it was "reasonable" to discover the incident). But, you must discover the incident within four years of the actual incident to file a lawsuit for medical malpractice. The four-year maximum does not apply to a claim on behalf of a child under 8 years old.
- However, if there was fraud, concealment, or intentional misrepresentation that prevented the person from discovering the incident, an additional two years is granted from the actual discovery date (or when it was "reasonable" to discover the incident). But, the overall limit for filing a medical malpractice lawsuit is 7 years. This seven-year maximum does not apply to a claim on behalf of a child under 8 years old.
There is a specific provision in Florida which requires that, in order to bring a malpractice case, you need a physician to sign an affidavit attesting to the merit of the case, after which a 90-day waiting period begins. Only after this is completed can you formally sue the defendant.
Mandatory screenings for claims
In 2005, Florida’s legislature created mandatory screening panels for all claims of medical malpractice. Each panel consists of a person with judicial experience (usually, a retired judge), a health care professional (usually, in the field being examined), and an attorney. These panels are intended to reduce the number of claims that make it to court and to "contain the costs of claims for medical injuries."
No Cap on Non-Economic Damages
In June 2017, the Florida Supreme Court struck down the state’s cap on non-economic damages. Also known as "pain and suffering," these damages used to be capped at $1 million, tops. Now, there is no limit. For victims, that means compensation for things like pain and suffering, emotional anguish, anxiety, loss of companionship, scarring, disfigurement, and loss of joy of life, as well as the expenses incurred by the injury or death, can be unlimited.
Why Medical Malpractice Cases Are Vital
Hospitals and critics say med mal litigation promotes an unreasonable standard of perfection from doctors. Researchers say this leads to doctors practicing "defensive medicine" - ordering extra tests, over-treating, prescribing more and more drugs, and shying away from "risky" procedures.
But what about the patients?
Let’s look at a famous example. Jesica Santillan was a 17-year-old girl who had her whole life ahead of her. All she needed was a heart and two lungs. Surgeons at Duke University transplanted a heart and two lungs into her body - with the wrong blood type. Jesica’s system attacked the donor organs; within a few weeks, she died. The hospital put it down to a simple "failure to communicate."
That is why medical malpractice lawsuits exist. So that families affected by outrageous and preventable mistakes have recourse and can get justice.
Medical malpractice cases result in stronger, more thorough hospital policies. When medical providers are held accountable for what they do, they take it more seriously. These rulings help victims, who are fighting an uphill battle against injury, stress, and big healthcare companies.
Speak to the Medical Malpractice Attorneys at Faiella & Gulden, P.A.
Cases involving in-depth medical knowledge are very difficult to prove. Only an estimated one-third of U.S. medical malpractice claimants end up winning their lawsuits.
At Faiella & Gulden, P.A., we’re not the kind of firm that just gets involved in a medical malpractice case for a settlement. We take on these cases to win in a courtroom, in front of a jury. We stand up in court to make sure what happened to our clients doesn't happen to anybody else, and to be with them in their struggles. And, we have the experience and technical knowledge to be successful.
There is no fee to talk to us. Usually, we start off with a phone conference, and then meet you, face to face. We front all costs if we decide to take your case, you pay nothing upfront. And when we do accept your case, you can bet we believe we can win. If you have any questions or want to speak with an Orlando-based medical malpractice attorney, call (407) 647-6111.
Want to seek compensation for your pain and suffering?
Call: (407) 647-6111