What Types Of Damages Are Available In Medical Malpractice Cases?
In Florida, there is a cap of $500,000 for damages in medical malpractice cases. This was due to the lobbyists telling the legislature that if we make this cap then we will not have to pay out such large ridiculous settlements and we will be able to lower the doctors’ insurance premiums. The premiums went up the year after they got it through the law. There is an exception to the cap, which has an unfortunate side effect. There is no cap in a wrongful death suit. The only problem is you have to die to get your money.
Do Most Medical Malpractice Claims & Cases Tend To Settle Or Do They Go All The Way To Trial?
Most medical malpractice claims and cases will eventually settle but not until probably a month or sometimes even less before trial. Where I am in Orange County, if I were to set a case for trial, it would likely be a year-and-a-half before it would come up on the court docket. Probably about 95 percent of the cases do settle and about 5 percent of them go to trial. Unfortunately, the 5 percent that does go to trial usually are won by the doctors. I personally believe the reason for that is that the ones that go to trial are the ones that are recognized by the insurance companies as being very weak cases; otherwise, they would not go to trial. They think they have a good shot of winning.
Are There Caps In Florida On Medical Malpractice Cases?
There are caps in Florida on medical malpractice cases, with the exception of wrongful death. The cap is $500,000. It does not matter if the jury comes back with $2 billion, the judge will reduce it to $500,000.
What Steps Should Someone Take If They Want To File A Medical Malpractice Claim?
There are two things that are very important steps to take if you want to file a medical malpractice claim. The first thing is there is a two-year statute of limitations from when either it happened or when you reasonably found out but in no case more than four years. The lesson to be learned there is if you think something is going wrong, get moving on it.
The second thing that is absolutely essential is to get a hold of your medical records because you have to get an expert opinion in order to proceed. The expert opinion will not be based upon what you say or what I say or what anybody says; it will be based on the records that are reviewed by the doctor. You are absolutely entitled to get your own records and that’s the first thing you should do. I can take a look at them and decide whether we are going to proceed from there or not.
How Long Do Medical Malpractice Cases Typically Take To Get Resolved?
Medical malpractice cases typically take some time to get resolved. I try and force the issue as quickly as possible but first, you have the three-month pre-suit before you can even file, and then you have to wait three weeks to get your answer. Then you have to wait three weeks after that. If I do not lose any time on any of that, and because the case may go to trial, I will set it for trial, and it will probably be a year-and-a-half after I notice it before it comes up. It is basically almost two years in Orange County before you can expect it to go to trial. In other counties, where the court docket is not so overloaded, it may come up quicker.
There are certain circumstances when you can move things a lot quicker, but there are other things that might slow things down. For example, if you want to take a deposition of a doctor, he might be on vacation.
What Are The Challenges Faced In Proving A Medical Professional’s Wrongdoing In Court?
The challenges in proving a medical professional’s wrongdoing in court are that the essence of a lot of medical malpractice cases is that there is so much uncertainty and variability involved. One of the major things that comes up a lot is that before doctors will do any surgery, they will have you sign a consent form. Some of what happens is that what people think is malpractice are the specific risks that are revealed on the consent form. The usual language is this could happen, this could happen, and sometimes this can happen. The risks and benefits of the procedure, including not doing the procedure at all, have been discussed with the patient, and they have indicated they understand it and signed below. That is one “get out of jail-free” card, but with a limitation. For example, with an anesthesia consent, you may consent to possible side effects, long-term effects, possibly even death, but you do not consent that to someone hitting you on the head with a hammer on the way past. You cannot consent to negligence.
A lot of the times, what we do is we look at the records and we see if there is anything in the records which indicate that something was not done in an acceptable manner. Of course, that can be quite difficult because sometimes the records do not accurately reflect what actually happened. You can get people that come in and tell you this happened and then when you get the records, there is no mention of that having happened at all.
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