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Medical Malpractice

doctorVictims 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 healthcare 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 think that your health care provider’s negligence or mistake has caused harm to you or a loved one, then you have limited time to explore your legal options. There is a short time period in Florida to file medical malpractice claims. Contact our Villages Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Whittel & Melton 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 healthcare 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.

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

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:

Medical Expenses

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.

Lost Wages

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.

Non-Economic Damages

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 Villages Medical Malpractice Lawyers will fight to get you the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.

Punitive Damages

The purpose of punitive damages is to deter malicious or reckless behavior. Punitive damages 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.

If You Think You Have a Claim, You Need to Speak With The Villages Medical Malpractice Attorney

' 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 our Medical Malpractice Lawyers at Whittel & Melton at 352-369-5334 or schedule an appointment online for a free consultation.

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