The Villages Medical Malpractice Attorney
Victims of medical malpractice can be left with devastating physical and emotional injuries that can last a lifetime. While the majority of physicians and other health care providers may be competent and caring professionals, errors can occur that leave patients with exorbitant medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and other financial, emotional, and physical losses that can last a lifetime.
If you suspect that you may have been injured due to negligence on the part of health care providers, a The Villages medical malpractice attorney can help.
The malpractice lawyers at Whittel & Melton are experienced in helping all types of people injured by the negligence of doctors and others. We can help you determine the strength of your case and how (and if) to proceed with a medical malpractice claim.
Our Medical Malpractice Attorneys in The Villages Are Experienced Litigators
While most medical malpractice cases settle out of court, you need a lawyer who is not afraid to take a case to a jury should that be the best course to follow. The attorneys at Whittel & Melton are experienced litigators who will aggressively fight for your rights to fair compensation for your injuries.
If you suspect that you’ve been harmed by a health care provider’s negligence, time is limited to explore your options. There is a short time period in Florida to file medical malpractice claims. Contact The Villages medical malpractice attorneys today for a free consultation.
Medical Malpractice and the Standard of Care
Medical malpractice can occur in many situations. While the facts of each case may be different, the underlying cause for a claim is the same. In order to pursue a claim for medical malpractice, it must be alleged and proven that a healthcare professional, at some point during the time the patient was under their care, violated the acceptable standard of care.
The duty of care is a legal obligation on the part of a health care provider to furnish care that is in accordance with the standards that are acceptable in the medical community. What standard of care is acceptable is dependent on the particular medical professional’s area of expertise or specialty.
In order for a medical malpractice case to succeed, the patient must prove that the medical professional in question did not act in a way that met this standard of care. Evidence of this is presented through a review of medical records and expert testimony.
The patient must also show that this failure on the part of the physician or other health care provider to meet the standard of care was the primary reason for his or her injuries. Finally, the patient must be able to substantiate the damages that resulted from the doctor’s negligence. Some of these damages – like lost wages and medical bills –are easily quantifiable, while others – like pain and suffering – are not.
Common Examples of Medical Malpractice
While not every medical mistake constitutes a case of malpractice, typical events that can lead to a medical malpractice claim include:
Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis
Misdiagnosis occurs when a doctor fails to diagnose the correct illness after examining a patient. The physician either incorrectly determines that the patient has no discernible illness or diagnoses the patient with an illness that he or she does not have.
Delayed diagnosis occurs when a doctor fails to make a correct diagnosis after examination at the outset, but eventually does correctly diagnose the patient, albeit too late for the patient to receive the full benefits of an initial correct diagnosis.
The result of a misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis is that a patient either does not get timely treatment for an illness or receives unnecessary treatment. Either situation could have severe repercussions for the patient.
Errors that occur during surgery – regardless of whether the surgery is considered medically necessary or elective – can form the basis for a medical malpractice claim. Some situations that can give rise to a claim of negligence due to surgical error include:
- Performing the incorrect procedure
- Performing an unnecessary procedure
- Leaving surgical tools or instruments inside of the patient
- Failure to provide proper postoperative recovery instructions
- Damage to organs, nerves, tissues or blood vessels around the surgical site
- Operating under non-sterile conditions
Many people think anesthesia as something that is administered only during surgery. While anesthesia is certainly used during surgical procedures, there are other instances where anesthesia is regularly administered by healthcare professionals to patients.
Anesthesia errors can occur during surgery, during pre-op procedures, and in the recovery room. Anesthesia errors are also common when dental work is being performed. Anesthesia can be dangerous, even deadly, if not administered properly.
Errors in prescribing or administering medication can lead to patient harm. When the error is the result of a healthcare practitioner’s negligence, it could give rise to a medical malpractice claim. Some typical types of medication errors are:
- Overprescribing a particular medication, including overprescribing addictive pharmaceuticals such as opioids
- Prescribing or administering the wrong dose of a medication
- Failure to take patient’s history before prescribing medication
- Administering the wrong drug to the patient
Negligence on the part of physicians and other healthcare providers during the birth of a child is perhaps the most heartbreaking form of medical malpractice. While not all mistakes give rise to a claim of negligence, some examples of birth injury negligence are:
- Failing to take proper notice and action in cases of fetal distress
- Using delivery aid tools improperly
- Failing to perform a C-section when necessary
- Failing to properly monitor both mother and baby
Medical Product Malfunctions
Medical devices – such as filters designed to prevent blood clots or pacemakers designed to regulate the heartbeat -- can be faulty, causing injury to patients. Often these types of injuries occur years after the device was implanted in the patient’s body.
If the manufacturer knew or should have known that the device was defective, this could give rise to recovery for damages under either a medical malpractice case or a medical product liability case, depending on the particular facts at issue. A The Villages medical malpractice attorney can assess your situation and advise you whether and how to proceed with a claim for damages caused by a malfunctioning medical device.
Informed Consent Laws in Florida
Unless a patient is unconscious and a procedure is performed in an emergency situation where consent is impossible to obtain, a patient in Florida has the right to know the potential risks associated with any medical treatment. A doctor is not allowed to perform a risky procedure on a patient unless and until he or she receives the patient’s informed consent.
There is a common misconception that all a physician needs to do to substantiate informed consent is produce a written consent form signed by the patient. But this is not the case. In order for informed consent to take place, the doctor is required to:
- Explain the nature of procedure and the reason for it (what it is intended to correct)
- Explain all risks and hazards associated with the procedure
- Explain and offer alternatives to the procedure and what anticipated or expected outcomes would be, including the option of doing nothing
Only after the patient has received all this information under circumstances rendering him or her able to understand all of the risks of the procedure, can he or she be said to have supplied informed consent. If the patient was under medication or in too confused a state of mind to fully comprehend the nature of their consent, the informed consent will be considered null and void.
Relying on a lack of informed consent as the sole basis for a medical malpractice claim can be problematic in Florida. If the defense can convince a jury that it is probable that the patient would have given consent had all the information been provided, the jury can rule in favor of the physician.
Types of Medical Malpractice Compensation
In Florida, there are generally three types of compensation a victim can receive for medical malpractice: economic damages, non-economic damages and punitive damages.
Economic damages are the actual monetary losses you incur as a result of the harm done to you.
These include past and future medical expenses, past and future wage losses, and the loss of a job or business opportunities. Possible types of economic damages, when they are objective and verifiable, are:
You can expect to be compensated for what you have paid in hospital and other medical expenses, as well as the anticipated costs of medical care in the future. Medical malpractice can result in significant medical bills, and sometimes they can be ongoing for years or even a lifetime. A victim could require skilled nursing care or in-home assistance with activities of daily living, such as bathing, cooking, cleaning, and shopping.
In order to provide evidence of these expenses, you can provide copies of hospital and other medical bills, as well as expert testimony about what future care costs are likely to be.
Due to your injuries, you may be out of work for an extended period of time. Your economic damages will include the income you missed out on as a result of not being able to work. Pay stubs and other documentation relating to your wages – both current and future – provide evidence of this wage loss.
Loss of a Job
If you either lose your job because of being absent due to the injury, or you are not able to return to work because of the damages, you can receive compensation equal to what you would have earned had the injury never occurred.
Loss of Business Opportunities
If you have lost business opportunities because of your injury, you can be awarded compensation for this loss, as long as you can provide evidence to quantify how the injury affected your business earnings and opportunities.
While it is much more difficult to put a price on non-economic damages, they are every bit as valid as quantifiable economic damages. Non-economic damages include emotional pain and suffering, mental anguish, disfigurement, and the general loss of the enjoyment of life.
The Florida Supreme Court has ruled that caps on non-economic damages are unconstitutional. Your The Villages medical malpractice attorney will fight to get you the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.
The purpose of punitive damages is to deter malicious or reckless behavior. Punitive are not designed to compensate the victim for any kind of loss, but instead exist solely to punish the wrongdoer.
While relatively rare in medical malpractice cases, punitive damages could be awarded if the plaintiff can show that the malpractice was the result of reckless or wanton behavior, or an intentional act of wrongdoing.
Florida’s Statute of Limitations for Medical Negligence Claims
In Florida, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is two years from the date of the incident that gave rise to your claim, or two years from the time the incident was discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence. In no case can this time exceed four years from the time of the incident.
In other words, with limited exception, if you do not file a lawsuit for medical malpractice within two years of the procedure or incident that harmed you, you could be barred from seeking compensation for your injuries.
Filing for damages as soon as possible after injury is important for practical reasons as well. Delaying could cause crucial evidence to become lost or difficult to find. Further, medical malpractice cases can take a long time to settle, and could take years if it turns out you need to go to trial to receive the compensation you deserve.
Contact The Villages Medical Malpractice Attorneys at Our Firm Today for a Free Case Assessment
If you believe you or a loved one are the victim of negligence on the part of a doctor, medical facility, or other healthcare provider in Lake County, Sumter County or Marion County, call the medical malpractice lawyers of Whittel & Melton at 352-369-5334 or schedule an appointment online for a free consultation.