Wrongful Death Medical Malpractice

We trust our doctors, surgeons, nurses, pharmacists and other health care providers to use all their education, training, resources and best judgment to offer optimal care to us and our loved ones. When they fail and someone dies, the provider – and the facility for whom they work – may be liable in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Florida law does not expect these professionals never to make a mistake. Further, a poor medical outcome – even death – isn’t automatically grounds for a medical malpractice lawsuit. As our Fort Lauderdale wrongful death attorneys at The Ansara Law Firm can explain, it comes down to whether the health care provider failed to abide the applicable standard of care and whether that failure caused a poor outcome.

Examples of medical malpractice wrongful death may include the following errors that result in a patient’s death:

  • Mistakes during childbirth;
  • Undiagnosed or misdiagnosed condition or disease;
  • Failure to treat a condition;
  • Treatments that are unnecessary;
  • Mistakes during surgery;
  • Anesthesia errors.

Unlike claims for general negligence, medical malpractice lawsuits must adhere to strict rules regarding notification, filing, statute of limitations and standard of proof. Even when it seems medical negligence is fairly obvious, these cases can be incredibly complicated. That’s why expert witness testimony is required. Having an experienced wrongful death attorney working for you is imperative.

Proving Medical Malpractice

As explained in F.S. 766.102, medical negligence is different than general negligence. In medical malpractice cases, the plaintiff bears the burden of proof to show – by greater weight of the evidence – that the alleged actions of defendant health care provider were a breach of the prevailing professional standard of care for that health care provider. That means first establishing what the prevailing professional standard for that provider was. To do that, we gather evidence from numerous sources – including an expert in that field of medicine – to show the level of skill, care and treatment which, in consideration of all relevant surrounding circumstances, would be recognized as accepted and appropriate by reasonably prudent health care providers.

It’s what other specialists in the same field would consider appropriate or reasonable action when handling the same or similar circumstances.

It’s not enough to show the patient suffered a poor outcome, such as death. In fact, F.S. 766.102(2)(b) is very clear that the existence of a medical injury does not create any presumption of negligence by a health care provider. Instead, a plaintiff must show the injury or death that allegedly resulted in negligent medical care was not within the reasonably foreseeable or necessary results of a surgery, diagnostic procedure, medication or medical intervention carried out in accordance with the prevailing professional standard.

The only real exception that establishes prima facie evidence of negligence by a doctor or other health care provider occurs when a patient discovers a foreign body (i.e., sponge, forceps, surgical needle, clamp or other paraphernalia used in surgery/ diagnoses/ exam, etc.) in their own body.

Restrictions on the type of evidence allowed (particularly for expert witness testimony) is extensive, and this evidence will be scrutinized – long before trial.

We say all this not to discourage anyone, but rather to prepare claimants for the inevitable challenges and encourage them to act quickly. Medical malpractice claims are often some of the most complex in injury law – and subject to a two-year statute of limitations (the same as for wrongful death, but shorter than the four-year term for general negligence personal injury claims). Survivors of decedents should not hesitate to explore their legal options with an attorney as soon as possible.

Wrongful Death Medical Malpractice Damages

Florida legislators in 2003 passed a measure to reduce medical malpractice insurance costs, capping damages in wrongful death cases at $1 million and injury cases at $500,000. However, in 2014, the Florida Supreme Court ruled in McCall v. U.S. that this damage cap was unconstitutional under the Equal Protection Clause. That means the $1 million damage cap for medical malpractice wrongful death cases is no longer in place, and it’s up to jurors to ascertain how much plaintiffs should receive.

The value of a claim is dependent on many factors. Your wrongful death attorney can help explain further the how these factors will impact your case.

Fort Lauderdale Injury Lawyer – (954) 761-4011 – Free Consultation

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