As a child of a surgeon, I grew up with a special fondness and admiration for physicians. In fact, as a child and young teenager, I spent many hours waiting in the staff lounge as my father performed his rounds on patients. Being reared in a home led by a medical doctor necessarily transfers a high level of deference and respect for those in our communities that help others for a living as healthcare practitioners. Those deep feelings of respect and admiration remain in me to the present day.
As I became more and more experienced as a personal injury lawyer that handles medical malpractice cases, my default feelings of admiration and respect became less and less automatic when I realized like all professions, medicine included those who made mistakes.
Mistakes in the hospital or operating room happen and sometimes they end up causing additional harm to a patient. This event is generally referred to as a medical malpractice case.
Florida’s Medical Malpractice Laws
Florida Medical malpractice law governs this area of law and generally holds that all physicians must practice medicine in a “reasonable” manner. Reasonable in terms of that physicians training and experience. For example, Florida medical malpractice law requires that before a physician or healthcare practitioner is accused of medical malpractice there must be an expert who has nearly the same credentials who reviews the records and concludes that the healthcare practitioner failed to use reasonable care.
Many potential clients think that anything that does not go as expected in their medical care must be medical malpractice. That is not accurate. Even if there is a medical mistake, there is only an actionable cause of medical malpractice if that mistake actually caused a significant injury or death. Said another way, a healthcare worker can make a mistake (technically medical malpractice) but if that mistake does not result in an injury or death then there is no case for medical malpractice.
A healthcare worker can make a mistake (technically medical malpractice) but if that mistake does not result in an injury or death then there is no case for medical malpractice.
What Qualifies as a “Medical Malpractice” Case?
So, to have a potential medical malpractice case in Florida, a patient must have had a medical mistake that amounts to unreasonable care AND must have suffered an injury or death from that mistake. A crazy example may be good to illustrate how these elements of medical malpractice must both be present. Let’s imagine a situation where someone is having surgery and during the procedure, the surgeon drops a sharp scalpel into the patient’s open surgical site. Thankfully, the imaginary doctor notices the mistake and carefully removes the scalpel, and inspects for any injury. There is no injury, and the surgery isn’t delayed, and the patient recovers as expected. Well, there was a mistake and certainly, one that could be considered less than reasonable care. The missing element, however, is that the mistake did NOT cause an injury or death. So, simply being the victim of a medical mistake does not make up a Florida medical malpractice case.
What to Consider in a Florida Medical Malpractice Case
Making this evaluation even more complex is that recommending the pursuit of a medical malpractice case involves an additional consideration:
- How bad is the injury caused by the malpractice? This additional consideration is due the fact that unlike many other types of lawsuits, Florida medical malpractice cases are quite expensive and involve years of lawyer time. Law firms, like Zarzaur Law, P.A., that accept medical malpractice cases know in advance that these cases will some of the most expensive cases for them to prosecute.
- The lobbying groups for medical facilities and practitioners have successfully been able to get Florida state laws passed that make it costly to sue a medical provider or hospital. These cases typically cost between $100,000.00 to $200,000.00 to bring. These are the costs that just get you a seat at the trial. These expenses would be carried by the law firm and the firm will place those expenses and its lawyers’ time in the balance. If the case is lost the firm will have to absorb these costs and if there is a victory there must be sufficient enough recovery to pay these costs, enable the client to recover, and provide an lawyer fee to the firm.
Law firms working on medical malpractice cases are just like any other business. If their work results in a net loss to the firm, that firm will not be around very long. This fact mandates that when a law firm is considering a potential medical malpractice case, it must consider not only the merits of the mistake and injury elements but also must determine whether the likely recovery will easily payback all of the expenses and will still allow for a generous recovery for the client and a fee for the firm.
As you can see from this discussion, whether you have a medical malpractice case in Florida involves several considerations which all must come together to make a successful medical malpractice case. If you or a loved one was the victim of a medical mistake and is seeking a law firm to evaluate any potential medical malpractice case can contact Zarzaur Law, P.A. on the web at zarzaurlaw.com or call us at 855Hirejoe.
Joe Zarzaur is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney whose firm is dedicated to promoting community safety since 2007. ZARZAUR LAW’S AREAS OF PRACTICE: Serious Personal Injury, Product Defect, Auto Accidents, Cycling Accidents, Motor Vehicle Accidents, Products Liability, Wrongful Death, Community Safety, Boat and Jet Ski Accidents, Slip and Fall Injuries, and more. Licensed in Alabama and Florida.