West Palm Beach Medical Malpractice Lawyer
Don’t let a doctor or other medical professional get away with not taking your health seriously. Find out if you can get compensated for your injuries and losses by speaking with a medical negligence lawyer.
When you need medical care, you trust your healthcare provider to put your wellbeing first and foremost. When providers fail in this trust, people either get hurt or fall ill, or they see their health decline further. In the case of expectant mothers, negligence can cause irrevocable harm to both the unborn child and the mother. When this sort of thing occurs, you might have grounds for a medical malpractice case.
Even if the fault is blatant, you can’t expect the negligent healthcare provider to simply accept responsibility. That sort of publicity is bad for their business, and their malpractice insurer won’t be eager to compensate you and risk their profit margins.
If you aren’t sure if you have a case or just want to make certain that you get treated fairly, the Law Offices of Casey D. Shomo is here to guide you through the legal process and to the settlement you deserve. Our firm has in-depth experience with medical malpractice cases, and we can successfully resolve your case.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Just because you went to the doctor and your health got worse, it doesn’t necessarily mean that your case qualifies as medical malpractice. For malpractice to have occurred, some form of negligence must have been present. In order to prove medical negligence, certain elements must be demonstrated in the case.
The first element to prove (and probably the easiest) is that a doctor-patient relationship actually existed. This element means that the doctor had a “duty of care.” In other words, you went to the doctor with the intent of being treated, and the doctor agreed to treat you.
You likely can’t sue your doctor friend who gave you some medical advice if you weren’t actually seeing this person in a professional setting.
The second element is “breach of duty.” Essentially, you must prove that the medical professional you were seeing provided you with less-than-standard care. How can you tell if it was less than standard?
The basic way of proving this element is for other medical providers to agree that they would not have acted in the same manner under the same conditions, and that other “reasonable” medical practitioners wouldn’t have either.
Next, you must prove that the poor treatment you received was the direct cause of your medical injury. All outside factors that could have contributed to an injury or illness must be eliminated, and all signs must point to the error of the doctor or other healthcare professional.
Finally, you must have suffered real damages that the insurance companies or the court can remedy. For example, if your doctor prescribed you the wrong medication, but you didn’t get sick or suffer in any way, you likely can’t sue the doctor for damages because none exist.
Medical negligence could take the form of either a direct action or a complete failure to act:
- If the action or decision made by a doctor directly led to your injury or illness, it might qualify as malpractice. For example, a surgeon who performed the wrong procedure would be at fault for the damage and expense it caused.
- If an inaction led to your injury or illness, it might qualify as medical malpractice. For example, a doctor who discounted your symptoms and failed to diagnose you properly might be at least partially to blame when your health later declines in a way that could have been prevented.
- If a physician did everything possible and did so correctly, but your health still worsened, it might not qualify as medical malpractice because there wasn’t anything else the doctor could do. It’s an accepted fact of medicine that sometimes treatment simply doesn’t work.
If you aren’t certain which category your case falls under, a medical malpractice lawyer from our West Palm Beach firm can evaluate your situation and give you an honest opinion regarding your options.
Types of Medical Misconduct
Medical malpractice takes many forms, and sometimes victims don’t even realize that the healthcare professional they were hurt by was governed by these regulations.
Doctors, nurses, hospitals, surgeons, dentists, pharmacists, and chiropractors are just a few of the medical professionals who can cause you an injury and qualify you to seek monetary compensation with help from a West Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyer.
The following is an example of how a medical professional could injure you and how you could seek compensation for the injury:
You go to your doctor complaining of an illness. You fill out the paperwork properly and even remind the doctor of a serious allergy to a certain kind of medication. The doctor is aware of your condition but accidentally prescribes you a medication containing the ingredients you’re allergic to.
You take the prescription medication as instructed and become seriously ill. You are rushed to the hospital, where you receive emergency medical care. You miss work for a week because of your reaction to the medication. Your damages add up to $4,000 in hospital bills and $1,000 in missed work wages—plus mental anguish and physical pain.
In the above example, you would be eligible to file a medical malpractice claim to recover your losses. Here’s a look at some common types of medical injury cases in West Palm Beach:
- Failure to Diagnose and Misdiagnosis – Sometimes, doctors make false assumptions about what their patients tell them or simply fail to pay close enough attention and miss vital information. This can lead to a treatable condition progressing farther than it should have or the wrong treatment being prescribed.
- Surgical Errors – These cases can be some of the most disastrous for victims. From surgeons performing the wrong operation to leaving a foreign object within the site, a surgical error can have long-lasting consequences for your health.
- Dental Malpractice – A dentist can make any number of errors that could cost you one or more of your teeth, possibly even leaving you disfigured. In some cases, anesthesia errors have resulted in the wrongful death of dental patients.
- Birth Injuries – If the mother or the newborn was injured during birth, it can permanently change the course of the new family’s future. It is your right to seek damages from those who have harmed you or your baby through negligence.
- Infections – While staph infections are probably the most common, healthcare provider negligence can cause a wound to worsen or a surgical site to become infected and lead to a new health complication. If you suspect medical negligence caused your infection, contact an attorney right away.
- Prescription Drug Errors – Both your pharmacist and prescribing physician have an obligation to ensure that any drugs you are prescribed won’t negatively interact with each other. In addition, your doctor has a duty to check your medical history to ensure you aren’t given a medication you’re allergic to.
Proving Harm Caused by a Healthcare Provider
One of the things that makes medical malpractice cases trickier than other personal injury claims is that proving that a healthcare professional was negligent sometimes requires expert witness testimony from another doctor or member of that field.
Evidence can take many forms, however, and your West Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyer will make certain that everything that can be used to support your claim is collected and worked into your case.
What form this evidence takes will vary substantially with the specifics of what took place. In some cases, such as surgical errors, it will likely be fairly obvious. In others, such as a failure to diagnose, the evidence could be subtler and might even require a deposition to ask questions of the physician while he or she is under oath.
Here are some examples of evidence that could be used to prove your West Palm Beach medical injury claim:
- Medical documentation, including your medical history before the injury and after
- Witness statements and expert testimony from other medical professionals in the field
- Financial statements used to demonstrate how much this injury has cost you
- Records of how this injury has changed your life
- Video or photographic evidence
- Evidence of lab errors
Settling Your Malpractice Claim
There are two different types of damages you can seek compensation for after being harmed by malpractice: financial expenses and non-economic damages.
You should be able to expect compensation for all of the financial losses you experience because of the physician’s error. This includes current and future medical bills, lost income, therapy and medication costs, mobility equipment, and anything else with a direct dollar value.
Non-economic losses are related to how this injury has changed your life. You can be compensated for all the various ways this experience has impacted you.
Non-economic damages are technically capped in Florida malpractice cases, however. When a doctor or other practitioner injured you, you can collect a maximum of $500,000 in non-economic losses.
When a non-practitioner hurt you, you can collect a maximum of $750,000 in these damages. Examples include your pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement, and lost enjoyment of life.
One item to note, however, is that the Florida Supreme Court ruled these damage caps unconstitutional in June of 2017. This could call into question the outcome of your case, so it’s best to discuss the details with a medical malpractice lawyer in West Palm Beach.
West Palm Beach Medical Malpractice FAQ
After having your trust betrayed by a doctor or other medical practitioner, you’re probably uncertain about what to do next. This is perfectly normal and understandable. We’ve answered a few questions here, but for more in-depth information, please contact our office to consult with a West Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyer.
How much time do I have to file a medical malpractice claim in Florida?
Florida allows a statute of limitations of just two years for medical malpractice claims. If you wait to file until after two years have passed, you could lose your right to compensation and have your case dismissed without ever being heard.
What is ‘informed consent,’ and what does it mean to my medical malpractice case?
Healthcare providers are required to inform you of any risk and possible side effects inherent in a particular course of treatment. If your doctor fails to discuss this with you and you are hurt as a result of the treatment, your case might qualify as medical malpractice.
Can I file a medical malpractice claim against a physical therapist?
Likely, yes. In general, if a healthcare profession requires some sort of professional registration, then it is probably governed by malpractice laws, and the provider owes you a duty of care. If this duty of care was violated, you could have grounds for a case.
Will I have to attend court in order to successfully resolve my case?
Not usually. In most personal injury cases, including medical malpractice, your attorney can settle the case outside of the courtroom. How do we do this? We will negotiate with the medical provider or his or her insurance company. Only when the other side refuses to pay you fairly will we need to enter the courtroom.
How long does a medical malpractice case take to be resolved?
This question is tough to answer because each case is unique. How long yours will take to resolve will depend on several factors: the complexity of the case, how much evidence is available, the willingness of the involved insurer to negotiate a fair settlement, and whether the case goes to trial.
I signed a medical consent form. Can I still pursue damages?
Yes. Signing a consent form does not bar you from seeking damages from a negligent medical practitioner. All the consent form does is verify that you’ve been informed of the risks of your procedure. A consent form does not authorize medical professionals to be careless in their treatment of you.
Help from a West Palm Beach Medical Negligence Attorney
It’s often unclear if malpractice has occurred, and the responsible party probably isn’t going to help you make that determination. To find out if you can seek compensation for harm you suffered because of a healthcare provider’s negligence, discuss your case with the Law Offices of Casey D. Shomo during a free consultation.
To arrange a time for your consultation, simply complete the contact form on this page or give us a call at 561-659-6366. There’s never an obligation to proceed, so there’s zero risk involved in discovering how we can help you obtain the settlement you need to pay for your recovery.