Does Comparative Negligence Apply in Medical Malpractice Cases?
Under Florida law, a person’s own negligence can reduce the amount that he or she can recover from the party who was primarily at fault for an accident. This legal theory is known as comparative fault and while it ensures that plaintiffs are not barred from recovery because of their own contributions to an accident, it also provides that a plaintiff’s compensation will be decreased according to that individual’s proportion of fault in causing a particular accident.
Although most people who know about this legal theory imagine that it only applies to collisions between vehicles or even slip and fall accidents, comparative negligence can actually come into play in a wide range of personal injury claims, including those based on medical malpractice. To learn more about comparative negligence and how your own actions could affect any damages that you are awarded in a medical malpractice case, please contact a medical malpractice lawyer who can explain your legal options.
What is Medical Malpractice?
Most healthcare professionals are careful to give patients the best possible care by providing an accurate diagnosis and proper treatment. Unfortunately, not all doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other medical professionals are so conscientious and may cause injury to patients through negligence, carelessness, or reckless behavior. In these cases, injured plaintiffs or their family members often have standing to file a medical malpractice claim against the at-fault physician or hospital. However, these claims will only be successful if the plaintiff can prove that the practitioner in question deviated from the standard of care that a reasonable physician would have used in the same circumstances. Plaintiffs who are able to meet this burden could be entitled to damages compensating them for their medical bills, pain and suffering, and lost wages.
Comparative Fault in Medical Malpractice Cases
Although in some situations, a healthcare provider may be fully at fault for a patient’s injury, it is also possible for a patient’s own negligence to be a contributing factor in causing the harm they suffered. In other words, a patient can be held partially at fault for an injury caused by medical negligence under the legal theory of comparative negligence, but only if those actions were related to the injury. Common examples of negligent acts by patients that could result in the reduction of a damages award include:
- Giving false medical information to healthcare providers;
- Failing to follow a physician’s orders for at-home care;
- Neglecting to visit a specialist upon being referred to one;
- Engaging in activities that aggravate a medical condition;
- Misleading a physician about how an injury occurred;
- Missing appointments and failing to reschedule them; and
- Failing to provide accurate information about drug or alcohol use.
However, even in cases where a patient was engaged in one or more of these activities, his or her damages award will only be reduced if those actions can be linked directly to that individual’s injuries.
Get Legal Help Today
Under Florida’s comparative fault law, an injured patient’s monetary damages could be reduced by his or her percentage of fault in causing the injury. To learn more about how comparative fault could impact your own medical malpractice claim, please call 954-566-9919 and schedule a meeting with one of the dedicated Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyers at Boone & Davis today.