A medical error by a doctor or hospital employee can turn a patient’s life upside down every bit as much as a car accident or slip and fall accident can. Doctors do not intentionally harm patients (the few that do are subject to the same criminal penalties as anyone else who intentionally harms another person), and thus people harmed due to medical errors have recourse to medical malpractice lawsuits. A medical malpractice lawsuit is a type of personal injury lawsuit; an in any personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff (patient) attempts to persuade the court that the defendant (doctor or hospital) was negligent and requests an amount of money equal to the plaintiff’s financial losses that resulted from the defendant’s negligence. Medical malpractice cases have a more detailed process than other personal injury cases, though. If you have suffered a serious injury or illness because of a medical error, contact a Florida medical malpractice lawyer.
How Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Work
To win a medical malpractice case, you must show that there was negligence on the part of the physician or hospital. Making judgments in the moment is part of a doctor’s job, and only doctors are qualified to determine whether a doctor’s actions constituted negligence, or whether the doctor was simply taking an unavoidable risk in the patient’s best interest. Thus, the process requires the expert opinions of several doctors who did not treat the plaintiff.
The statute of limitations requires patients to file a claim within two years of the alleged error. Upon filing the claim, the plaintiff must notify the prospective defendants that he or she plans to sue them. The defendants have 90 days to respond; this 90-day period is called the “pre-suit investigation” and requires both parties to submit statements by physicians who have reviewed the patient’s records but who did not personally treat the patient. At the end of the 90-day period, the defendants may offer to make a medical malpractice settlement without resorting to litigation. Thus, most medical malpractice cases do not go to trial.
Details of the Benoit Case
In the spring of 2012, 59-year-old Debbie Benoit of Cocoa Beach received spinal injections on four occasions at Cape Canaveral Hospital; the injections were a treatment for chronic lower back pain. On June 8, 2012, she went to the hospital emergency room complaining of severe pain. She was diagnosed with an epidural abscess, allegedly because poor infection control enabled the needles or medication to become contaminated with bacteria. She was never again well enough to leave the hospital; in February 2013, she died after developing meningitis. Her husband Chuck, the former manager of Coconuts on the Beach restaurant, filed a medical malpractice lawsuit related to her death. In 2019, the court awarded him 3.6 million in damages.
Let Us Help You Today
If you have been injured as a result of a medical error, you might be entitled to compensation. Contact Palm Beach County medical malpractice attorneys at Smith, Ball & Báez Injury Lawyers for a consultation.