The Basics of a Medical Malpractice Claim

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The Basics of a Medical Malpractice Claim

According to the Institute of Medicine, preventable medical errors kill as many as 98,000 Americans every year, and injure countless more.  If the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) were to include preventable medical errors as a category, it would be the sixth leading cause of death in America.1 If you or a loved one has been injured by a health care provider who did not perform their duties competently, you may have a medical malpractice claim.

What types of injures fall into a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Some common types of medical malpractice claims include:

  • Medication Errors
  • Post-Surgical Infections
  • Bedsores/Pressure Ulcers
  • Hospital Acquired Injuries
  • Surgical Complications
  • Birth Injuries
  • Misdiagnosis
  • Botched Surgeries

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) and some insurance companies will not reimburse hospitals for preventable medical errors called œNever Events. You can read more about this in our œNever Event Blog.

How long do I have to file a Medical Malpractice Claim?
It is important to note that there is only a limited time during which a medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed. This time limit is called a œ Statute of Limitation. Under Florida law, general  negligence actions  are subject to a four-year statute of limitations.2However, following an increasing trend among other states, the statute of limitations is two-years for medical malpractice cases  in the State of Florida..3 As stated in Florida law, it is two years from when you knew or should have known there was an injury and the injury potentially occurred from some form of medical negligence.  Please note, there are exceptions to the two year limitation.  Please call us to find out whether or not your potential action is subject to the two year limitation.

How do I prove a Medical Malpractice Claim?

To prove a medical malpractice claim, you must be able to show all of the following:
1) A duty was owed by a health care provider (hospital, doctor, nurse, etc.) who was involved in the patient’s care and treatment.
2) There was negligence caused by one or more of the health care providers and that negligence was below the standard of care.
3) The health care provider’s negligence caused injury or death
4) Damages resulted from the injury or death which could include physical pain, mental anguish, medical bills and lost wages for the past and future.

From 1996 through 1999, Florida hospitals reported 19,885 medical errors but only 3,177 medical malpractice claims. In other words, for every 6 medical errors only 1 claim is filed.4

For the claim to move forward to a jury, your claim must be proved by the facts of the case and you must have expert witnesses in the field of the defendant  health care provider testify that the medical care was below the acceptable standard of care in that particular field.  It can be a long, tedious and expensive process.

Can A Medical Malpractice Attorney Help You?

Just six percent of doctors are responsible for nearly 60 percent of all medical negligence, and the civil justice system is the only effective means for holding them accountable.1Proving medical malpractice is difficult but not impossible.  A case can take 2 to 3 years to reach the trial stage and cost well over  one hundred thousand dollars.   Edwards & Ragatz has an experienced team of  medical malpractice attorneys, on-staff nurses, medical experts and a professional staff to help determine the merit of your claim and work the case from presuit, litigation to trial.  If you think you have a medical malpractice claim, call our office at (904) 399-1609 or fill out the contact us form for a free case evaluation with one of our attorneys.

Read more about our practice areas: The Basics of a Personal Injury Claim

Sources:
1) AAJ: Medical Negligence: The Role of America’s Civil Justice System in Protecting Patients’ Rights, February 2011)  http://www.justice.org/resources/Medical_Negligence_Primer.pdf

2) Fla. Stat. §95.11(3) (2002).

3) Fla. Stat. §95.11(4)(b) (2002)

4) The Agency for Health Care Administration; Division of Health Quality Assurance. Reported malpractice claims by district compared to reported adverse incidents 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999.

1 Comment

  1. J.D. Haines, MD, MPH, FAAFP says:

    I am a expert witness in family medicine and urgent care medicine. I have reviewed over 500 cases and given over 100 depositions. If I can be of service in any of your cases, please contact me.

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