MEDICAL MALPRACTICE OVERVIEW IN FLORIDA

The law governing medical malpractice in Florida is found in Chapter 766 of the Florida Statutes.

Medical negligence cases differ substantially from other types of lawsuits. In suing a doctor or other health care provider for malpractice, the burden is on the injured party or his or her survivors to prove by expert testimony that the health care provider deviated from the prevailing standard of care by improperly providing or failing to provide appropriate medical care and treatment. In addition, the law requires testimony from qualified medical experts to show that the departure from the prevailing standards of care directly caused or contributed to the injuries sustained. The law in Florida requires that in order to testify as an expert witness in a claim of medical malpractice against a health care provider, the expert must have the same or similar background, skills or training as to the potential defendant health care provider. It has been our experience that the medical and legal elements involved in a medical malpractice claim can be proven only after extensive review by qualified medical experts of all the medical data and other documentation related to the case, usually at a very considerable expense.

The medical malpractice legislation enacted in Florida during the last several years was in large part proposed and lobbied by the Florida Medical Association. The legislation has resulted in increasing difficulties for claimants to successfully pursue medical negligence cases within the brief time period allowed by existing law. The burdensome procedural requirements of the Florida medical malpractice law afford a great deal of protection to physicians and other medical professionals and have created very substantial obstacles for individuals who have been injured or damaged by negligent medical care. 

There is a two (2) year statute of limitations in Florida for cases of medical negligence. This means that a lawsuit must be filed within two years from the date you knew, or in the exercise of reasonable care, should have known of the negligent treatment or injury resulting there from, but in no event more than four years from the date of the incident.  If a lawsuit is not filed within this time period, then your right to sue the potential defendant is forever barred. There are specific procedures to institute litigation, and a Notice of Intent to initiate litigation must be filed within the two-year time period to instituting suit. There is also a procedure for extending the Statute of Limitations for a period of ninety (90) days by filing a Petition with the Clerk of the Circuit Court during the original two year time period.

Due to this particularly complicated area of law, most victims of malpractice hire an attorney to represent them in this process.

Options for Patients and their families

CIVIL JUSTICE SYSTEM

In the context of medical malpractice, the civil justice system is a legal process where money damages can be recovered for a victim of medical negligence. Typically, the only remedy here is for money from the various damages caused by negligence to a patient. Sometimes, this is the only effective way to prevent future negligence from occurring.

It is our firm's recommendation to speak to a qualified attorney first before choosing the below options to report medical malpractice.

ADMINISTRATIVE OPTIONS

Medical care providers and medical care facilities are overseen by administrative agencies in Florida. These agencies are responsible for monitoring bad medical practice, and have the authority to revoke the licenses of health care providers and facilities.

To file a complaint against a health care provider for negligence, contact the Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA). This can be done by phone (888) 419-3456 or you may do this online by filling out a complaint form here: https://apps.ahca.myflorida.com/hcfc/

Check www.floridahealthfinder.gov to see if the facilities have been listed for prior abuses.

Check to see the status of a doctor's license and any formal complaints

LEGISLATIVE AND POLITICAL OPTIONS

The current state of medical malpractice law makes it difficult for someone who is a victim of malpractice to get a recovery. This was accomplished through years of lobbying and campaign contributions from the multi-billion dollar health care industry. These laws favor large corporations over patients. Make it known to lawmakers and other elected officials that you want this changed.

Contact state legislators 

U.S. Senators Bill Nelson and Marco Rubio

27 U.S. House Representatives from Florida

Contact Governor Rick Scott

File a complaint with the attorney general

OTHER OPTIONS

Many health care providers will have complaint and comments pages on their websites. You may leave comments regarding mistreatment at the facilities, and it will be determined by the health care provider whether or not the complaint is valid and if it will be fixed in the future.

Wuesthoff Complaint Page

Health First Complaint Page

REVIEW WEBSITES

You may leave reviews on public websites regarding your experience with a health care provider or health care facility.

·         Yelp

·         RateMDs.com

·         AngiesList.com

·         HealthGrades.com

·         ZocDoc.com

·         Caredash.com

·         TopDrz.com

·         Vitals.com

·         DrSocial.org

·         ConsumerReports.org

·         Type in the treater's name or facility and leave reviews on Google

What is tHE "FREE KILL" sTATUTE?

Florida Statutes 768.21(8) is also known as the "Free Kill" Statute. Anyone over 25 who dies without a spouse and without children under 25 is limited in the type of recovery they can get for their survivors in a medical malpractice wrongful death case. An adult child over the age of 25 cannot recover for pain and suffering, loss of parental guidance, and loss of support for the death of their parent caused by medical malpractice. The damages in a scenario like this are limited to medical expenses related to the malpractice, funeral expenses, loss of earnings, and loss of prospective net accumulations, all of which goes to an estate and requires a personal representative. Additionally, all of that recovery is subject to the claims of creditors. This is explained in further detail in Florida Statutes 768.21.

This lack of a full availability of a recovery is not the same in other types of negligence cases. The reason for this difference in medical malpractice laws is that insurance companies and doctors have heavily lobbied our legislature to limit their financial exposure and allow doctors great leeway to treat older patients with hardly any liability. In many instances of negligence, doctors/insurance companies are better off if the patient dies than if the patient survives. It is our opinion that this is an injustice and needs to be changed. To help make this change, please contact local, state, and national elected officials to let them know of how wrong this is and how it has impacted you and your family.

DISCLAIMER:

The contents provided on this page and all pages of our website are informational only and should not be used in place of hiring an attorney. Viewing this website does not create an attorney/client relationship.