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Florida Medical Malpractice

Historical Context

Medical malpractice in the United States is a descendant of English common law. It has developed through a variety of judicial rulings in state courts. And recently, legislatures have modified the framework and rules that govern medical malpractice. According to a publication authored by B. Sonny Bal, MD, titled An Introduction to Medical Malpractice in the United States, “Under Roman law, medical malpractice was a recognized wrong. Around 1200 AD, Roman law was expanded and introduced to continental Europe.” Bal goes on to cite one of the earliest English medical malpractice cases, Everad v. Hopkins, 80 English Reports 1164 (1615), which held that “both a servant and his master could sue for damages against a doctor who had treated the servant and made him more ill by employing ‘unwholesome medicine.’” Medical malpractice cases first appeared on the radar in the U.S. in the 1800s, however, it was not until the 1960s that legal claims for medical malpractice become more prominent.

Basic Information Regarding Medical Malpractice in Florida

Florida Statutes 95.11(4)(b) define medical malpractice as “a claim in tort or in contract for damages because of the death, injury, or monetary loss to any person arising out of any medical, dental, or surgical diagnosis, treatment, or care by any provider of health care.” The types of medical malpractice that exist are diverse. The list is not exhaustive, but examples include the failure to properly diagnose a patient’s illness, surgical errors, medication errors, failure to monitor a patient post-treatment, and failure to warn against known risks.

Statutes of limitations are an extremely important factor that can make or break a recovery for medical malpractice. In Florida, an action must be brought within two years from the date of the incident or from the date when the incident was or should have been discovered. In some instances, if fraud or concealment prevents the discovery of the incident, time frames may be extended to provide an opportunity to file suit. Because the time frames are short for medical malpractice, it is imperative that a victim contact an attorney as soon as possible to explore the facts surrounding their particular case.

Another unique aspect of bringing forth a medical malpractice claim in Florida is the requirement that a claimant include a verified written medical expert opinion corroborating that there are reasonable grounds to believe that each named defendant was negligent.

In the News

In a January 28th article titled “Court Rejects Royal Caribbean’s Appeal of Medical Malpractice Ruling”, a federal appeals court has refused to reconsider a decision that allows cruise ship passengers to sue for medical malpractice. Prior to this ruling, cruise companies were shielded with an immunity defense that prevented a ship owner from liability whenever an employee renders negligent medical care to its passengers. The ruling reversed a one-hundred years of precedent that barred suits for medical negligence aboard cruise ships.

Medical malpractice is certainly a complex body of law, and therefore, it should not be navigated without a competent and experienced attorney. If you believe you have suffered injuries as the result of doctors or healthcare providers, do not hesitate to contact the Fort Lauderdale attorneys at Boone & Davis for a free initial consultation.

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