Medical Malpractice, Part 1
Generally, doctors are held in a high position of trust. People trust their doctor’s opinion over anyone else’s when it comes to what to eat, how to exercise, and what medications to take. However, sometimes even trusted healthcare professionals make mistakes. If a doctor is negligent in their care of a patient, they could be sued for medical malpractice. The basis of the lawsuit is that the doctor’s negligence led to the plaintiff’s injury. There are three basic things that must be established in order to file a medical malpractice suit:
There Must Be Damages
In any lawsuit, there must be specific harm to the plaintiff. This could be in the form of physical pain and suffering or emotional distress. In medical malpractice claims, medical bills are commonly claimed as damages. If the plaintiff missed work or is injured in such a way they can no longer perform their job, lost earnings may also be claimed as damages. However, if the doctor simply makes a mistake that doesn’t cause you any sort of harm then there is no grounds to sue. Also, many states, including Florida, have a limit on how much a doctor can be sued for. Florida’s limits are laid out by Fla. Stat. Ann. § 766.118. It is important to note that the cap on medical malpractice insurance claims only applies to general damages, such as pain and suffering; however, there is no cap on specific damages, or those for tangible expenses.
There Must Be An Established Doctor-patient Relationship
The doctor must have acted in a way that directly caused you harm. For example, if you overhear the doctor talking to another patient and then follow the doctor’s advice to them, there would be no recourse if you were injured because the medical advice was taken outside your doctor-patient relationship. Also, according to Fla. Stat. Ann 768.1345, if there is an emergency and a medical professional responds and provides services without seeking compensation, they are immune to any malpractice claims arising from the situation.
The Doctor’s Negligence Must Have Led to the Injuries
Negligence simply means that the doctor did not meet the “standard of care”. The standard of care is the customary practice of an ordinary doctor. This can sometimes be tricky to define as each circumstance is different, but in general, most doctors follow similar specific methods for handling similar specific cases. Negligence exists if a doctor fails to properly diagnose a patient, prescribes the wrong medication or otherwise makes a mistake which causes injury to the patient.
This is a basic overview of medical malpractice. The next segment will focus on what to do if you believe you have been a victim of medical malpractice. However the most important thing you can do if you have been harmed by a mistake your doctor made is to secure competent legal representation. The attorneys at Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. have the experience it takes to help win your case. Contact our legal team in Port St. Lucie for a consultation.