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Steps Toward Recovery: Hiring a Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Orlando

When an injury results from medical malpractice, our Florida attorneys may be able to file a lawsuit against the doctor, nurse, hospital, or healthcare provider who was negligent in causing you harm. Medical malpractice occurs when treatment by a health care provider falls below the accepted standard of care in the medical community and leads to the injury or death of a patient. In general, if a healthcare provider in Florida fails to act where others with similar training would have, they may be liable for any resulting damages.

Have you or a loved one been injured by a healthcare professional? If so, you may be able to file a medical malpractice lawsuit to recover compensation for lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. Fill out our free case review form to learn how our Orlando attorneys may be able to help you file a medical malpractice claim.

The Importance of Hiring an Experienced Florida Medical Malpractice Attorney

Medical malpractice lawsuits differ from other personal injury cases because they involve two intertwining areas of expertise: law and medicine. These cases are inherently complex and require the attention and skill of an attorney who is well-versed in both of these areas. The attorney you choose should:

  • Have a firm understanding of medicine;
  • Be able to decipher medical documents;
  • Know which experts to consult;
  • Know which questions to ask; and
  • Be able to anticipate the tactics of the defendant.

Why Choose a Morgan & Morgan Attorney?

Medical Malpractice Attorney

Healthcare professionals will likely have defended against malpractice claims before; therefore, it is important for potential claimants to choose an attorney who has previously litigated malpractice claims in Florida. Your lawsuit will be based not only on your evidence, testimony and witnesses, but also the claims, evidence, and expert witnesses presented by the opposing side in support of their defense. Retaining an attorney in Florida who can anticipate the tactics employed by a healthcare professional to rebut or negate your claims can be a key factor in the outcome of your case.

At Morgan & Morgan, the attorneys in our Orlando office have handled medical malpractice lawsuits for decades and will use this experience to anticipate the strategies used by the defense. Our attorneys’ strength lays not only in our courtroom and negotiation tactics, but also the resources made available by our Orlando law firm. At Morgan and Morgan, we employ a number of outside experts at the top of their respective fields, including expert witnesses, full-time nurse paralegals, consulting staff physicians and consulting staff nurses, who will help us establish a link between your injuries and the defendant’s negligence. With the assistance of these individuals, our attorneys have compiled a track record of resulting helping medical malpractice victims in Orlando and the surrounding areas recover compensation for their injuries. While each case is different, we have recovered multi-million dollar results for our clients, including a $38,750,000 verdict for a Florida family after their doctor failed to perform a timely Cesarean section, which resulted in the serious injury of their child.

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What Your Orlando Attorney Will Do For You

If you or a loved one has been injured due to another’s negligence, our attorneys may be able to help you file a lawsuit to recover compensation for your losses. If you elect to take legal action, we will prepare your claim by:

  • Reviewing information given to them to establish if you have a claim;
  • Collecting additional evidence to support your claim;
  • Determining the value of your claim;
  • Determining potential liable parties;
  • Helping you understand your legal rights and options, moving forward; and
  • Handling complicated technical rules and procedures the court or Florida state may have.

While the evidence and facts may be on your side, the strength of your case may ultimately hinge on the ability of your attorney to prove a causal link. At Morgan and Morgan, the attorneys in our Orlando office understand how to package, present, and explain supporting (and adverse) evidence; question expert witnesses; rebut claims made by the defense through intelligent and thoughtful means; and turn neutral facts into favorable evidence or negate facts that are unfavorable to your case.

What Constitutes Medical Malpractice?

When a patient is injured due to the negligence of a medical professional, they may be able to file a lawsuit. The plaintiff must prove the following elements of proof to succeed in a medical malpractice lawsuit:

Patient/Doctor Relationship: Individuals filing a medical malpractice lawsuit must be able to prove they had a physician-patient relationship with the doctor. The patient must hire the doctor and the doctor must have agreed to work for the patient. Medical practitioners can only be sued for acts of malpractice committed within the scope of employment.

Duty of Care: Physicians are required to perform up to the accepted standard of the medical community. Doctors and other medical professionals have a legal obligation to their patients to act in the same manner that another practitioner in the same field and situation would.

Breach of Duty: In order for a medical practitioner to have been negligent, they must have violated the duty of care to their patient. For the duty of care to have been broken, the doctor must have failed to act how another medical practitioner would have in a similar situation.

Causation: In addition to negligence, patients must also prove causation to have a valid claim. Injured patients must prove that the medical practitioner’s breach of duty was the proximate cause of their injury. Through documents, further medical treatments, and affidavits from other healthcare providers, patients must be able to show a causal relationship between the doctor’s negligence and their injury.

Damages: The injury caused by the healthcare provider’s negligence must have caused either economic or non-economic damages. This means that medical professionals cannot be held liable unless the injured patient incurred additional medical bills, lost wages or damage to their future earning capacity, or pain and suffering.

For example, if you go to a hospital in Florida complaining of abdominal pain, you will be examined and questioned by a physician. This physician will then make a determination on the proper course of treatment. At this point, you have established a patient/doctor relationship. As a physician, he automatically has a duty of care to his patients—which includes you. If the physician determines you need surgery to remove your appendix, he has a duty to perform this surgery as any other reasonable surgeon would under the same circumstances. A breach of duty is a negligent act or omission, which could include removing the wrong organ, causing excessive damage to the body in the surgical site, or leaving a towel in your body after surgery. If you sustain an injury during or after surgery, you must prove that the breach (negligent act) was the direct cause of the injury which resulted in compensable damages.

Medical Malpractice Damages

In medical malpractice cases, compensatory damages are awarded to compensate the injured patient for the harm caused by a medical professional's negligence. Compensatory medical malpractice damages attempt to make the victim "whole" again and provide financial compensation for economic and non-economic losses. Also known as actual damages, economic losses that may be covered include:

Medical expenses: These damages cover the cost of hospital stays, doctor visits, physical therapy, prescription drugs, assistive devices and similar expenses. When an injury is severe or permanent, the medical malpractice victim may also be awarded compensation for future medical expenses.

Lost wages: Patients who must take time away from work to recover from their medical malpractice injuries may be able to collect compensation for lost wages.

Loss of earning capacity: When a patient is unable to earn the same amount of money as he or she did prior to their accident, they may be awarded compensation for a loss of earning capacity.

Pain and suffering: Medical malpractice damages for pain and suffering typically compensate the victim for the physical pain caused by their injuries. These damages may also include compensation for emotional distress, which refers to the anxiety, depression, fear, frustration and other mental suffering that can develop as a result of a medical malpractice injury.

Loss of Consortium: The spouse of the medical malpractice victim may be able to recover compensation for the loss of marital benefits. Loss of companionship, sexual relations, affection, and comfort are among the compensable marital benefits. Loss of consortium medical malpractice damages are typically awarded in cases of life-changing or permanent injuries.

Other Damages: There are other damages available in certain situations, including loss of life’s enjoyment, compensation for disability or disfigurement, loss of parental support, loss of companionship, etc.

When a nurse, doctor or other medical professional acts with gross negligence, or if their conduct is willful or malicious, the injured patient may be entitled to punitive damages. Rather than compensate the victim for their losses, punitive medical malpractice damages aim to punish the defendant and deter others from engaging in similar conduct.

Florida Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations

Under Florida law, a statute of limitations limits the amount of time an injured party may pursue a medical malpractice lawsuit against a negligent party. Failure to file a claim within this window could bar the right to recover compensation for injuries sustained. In some instances, if there is fraud, misrepresentation, or other foul play on the defendant’s part, the time frame may be expanded to give the injured party additional time to file a suit. The statute of limitations sets a strict time period during which a lawsuit may be filed, so it is important for victims of medical malpractice in Florida to contact an attorney as soon as possible after a medical mistake.

Types of Medical Malpractice

Anesthesia Errors

If anesthesia is used incorrectly, and a patient experiences injury or death, the negligent professional may be held liable for any resulting damages. Some examples of negligence by an anesthesiologist or other healthcare professional include:

  • Choosing the incorrect drug;
  • Administering drugs that interact negatively with one another;
  • Administering the wrong dosage of the drug;
  • Giving a drug to an allergic patient;
  • Failing to monitor vital signs;
  • Failing to act upon changes in vital signs;
  • Administering anesthesia too late;
  • Failing to intubate;
  • Failing to use machines correctly;
  • Using faulty equipment;
  • Shutting off the alarm on the pulse oximeter; and
  • Failing to inform the patient of instructions regarding the procedure.

There are three kinds of anesthesia: local, regional, and general. Each one is used in different circumstances and carries differing possible complications. One of the most serious complications of an anesthesia error is anesthesia awareness, when a patient awakes during surgery and can see and/or feel the ongoing surgery. Patients that experience anesthesia errors may be able to recover compensation for their physical and emotional injuries.

Emergency Room Errors

Although the emergency room environment is hectic and rushed, medical professionals are still expected to uphold a high standard of care for their patients. Sometimes, though, negligence by doctors, nurses, and other staff members can lead to serious and debilitating injuries. When an error occurs in an emergency room, the victim may be able to file a lawsuit to recover damages for their injuries. Examples of emergency room errors include:

  • Misreading of a chart, x-rays, or test results;
  • Failure to diagnose cardiac problems that may lead to a heart attack;
  • Surgical errors (botched operation, surgery on the wrong body part, etc.);
  • Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis (most frequently a blood clot, aneurism, appendicitis, stroke or pulmonary embolism);
  • Medication errors;
  • Postoperative infections caused, unrecognized, or untreated by the facility; and
  • Failure to monitor a patient post-treatment.

Hospital Malpractice

In certain cases, the hospital where the patient was injured can also be sued in a hospital negligence lawsuit. First, hospitals are charged with adequately evaluating prospective employees’ qualifications, including prior experience, certifications and level of education. If the hospital provides privileges to an incompetent or under-qualified medical professional, it may be held liable for any patient injured by that employee’s incompetence. For instance, if a hospital fails to check whether an employee has the proper degree or certification and that employee causes an injury, the hospital may be found liable.

Second, hospital employees and staff sometimes engage in conduct that amounts to medical malpractice, for which the hospital can be held liable. Some of these include:

  • Inaccurate diagnosis;
  • Patient neglect and refusal to offer treatment;
  • Ignoring a patient to the point that their condition becomes unstable;
  • Failing to send a patient to a specialist if the current physician's care is insufficient;
  • Failing to order obligatory diagnostic tests to help determine treatment options;
  • Administering the incorrect medication or amount of a drug;
  • Erroneous use of anesthesia;
  • Misuse of medical equipment;
  • Pointless or nonconsensual surgery; and
  • Infection caused by not adhering to hospital protocol.

Hospital Vicarious Liability

Hospitals can be vicariously liable for any injuries caused by the negligence of their employees, including technicians and nurses, because employers have a duty of care to direct and supervise their workers. This liability covers negligence of employees as well as systemic problems within the hospital including unreasonably long wait times for the emergency room and infections acquired from unclean instruments.

Hospitals, however, can usually not be held liable for the negligent actions of independent contractors. In Florida, many doctors are not actually hospital employees; they are typically employed by the hospital on a freelance basis while they run their own private practices. Hospitals may only be found negligent for the actions of independent contractors if they are found to lack the requisite experience, are under-qualified, or if the medical professional acted with the apparent agency of the hospital. If an attorney can prove that the professional was represented to be an employee of the hospital, the patient relied on that representation, and was injured as a result, the patient may be able to sue the hospital as well. Some hospitals try to get around this apparent agency problem by requiring their independent contractors to notify patients that they are not hospital employees or by placing signs indicating their status around the facility. If a patient is not reasonably apprised of their physician’s independent contractor status, the hospital may be liable for any resulting injuries.

Medical Device Error

Although medical devices are used regularly to diagnose, treat, or prevent diseases, sometimes their failure or misuse results in serious injury or death to a patient. There are three major types of defects in medical devices that might cause injury and open up a manufacturer to liability. These are manufacturing defects, defective designs, and inadequate warnings. In the case of one of these problems, the manufacturer of the device may be sued for failure that results in injury or death. In addition, medical devices may be misused by medical professionals. When improper training, inadequate knowledge, recklessness, or negligence in using a medical instrument or device leads to the injury of a patient, the medical professional that misused the device may be held liable.

Misdiagnosis or Delayed Diagnosis

A failure to diagnose an illness correctly can have devastating effects on a patient and their family. Injuries resulting from a medical misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis can leave patients with debilitating pain and lasting physical impairments, and in the worst cases, result in fatalities. Commonly misdiagnosed conditions include breast cancer, lung cancer, ovarian cancer, prostate cancer, brain tumor, infections, appendicitis, ectopic pregnancy, and vascular diseases.

To recover compensation in a misdiagnosis lawsuit, an injured patient must prove that the healthcare professional was negligent. Some examples of negligence resulting in misdiagnosis include:

Failure to Listen to the Patient: When a patient tells a doctor that they aren’t feeling well, it is the doctor’s responsibility to listen and examine the patient’s symptoms. Should the doctor fail to examine one of the symptoms and the patient gets sicker, the doctor can be liable for a misdiagnosis.

Failure to Recognize Symptoms: Doctors are trained to make diagnoses based upon a patient’s symptoms. If a healthcare professional fails to make an accurate diagnosis despite symptoms indicating a particular illness, they may be held liable for medical malpractice.

Failure to Examine Medical History: Physicians have a responsibility to examine their patient’s personal and family medical history. The physician may be considered negligent if they didn’t examine the patient’s medical history, the patient becomes sicker, and the illness would have been easily identifiable after examining their medical history.

Ordering an Improper Test: If a doctor orders an incorrect test based on the symptoms in their patient, they may be negligent if the patient sustains further injury. Additionally, a doctor can be found negligent if they fail to order a test after observing the symptoms in their patient.

Failure to Interpret Tests Correctly: When a doctor orders a test for a patient, they are charged with correctly interpreting the results. Should a doctor carelessly interpret a patient’s test, they may be liable for any unnecessary injury or sickness that results from their negligence.

When a patient is misdiagnosed, their illness has time to progress without adequate treatment. In the worst cases, this can result in death. Additionally, when a patient is misdiagnosed with an illness from which they are not suffering, they can be subjected to painful and risky treatments. If the doctor in either of these instances was negligent in misdiagnosing the illness, they may be liable for any resulting damages incurred by the patient.

Postoperative Negligence

Postoperative care refers to the monitoring and subsequent care that a patient receives following surgery or treatment. Medical professionals are responsible for monitoring a patient for complications that arise from surgery or treatment, preventing and treating infections, monitoring vital signs, giving detailed instructions to the patient for post-surgical care, and correctly prescribing medicine to the patient to aid in the healing process and prevent complications. If a doctor fails to properly monitor a patient or fails to notice symptoms, that patient may face suffer a severe injury. In these cases, the patient may have a viable medical malpractice lawsuit.

Some of the types of infections, illnesses, and conditions that commonly arise from postoperative negligence include:

  • Sepsis;
  • Viral infections;
  • Internal bleeding;
  • Necrotizing fasciitis;
  • Infections at the site of surgery;
  • Tissue necrosis (death);
  • Organ perforation that went unnoticed;
  • Urinary tract infections (UTIs);
  • Staphylococcus (Staph) infections;
  • Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus (MRSA);
  • Bloodstream infections;
  • Blood clots or pulmonary embolism;
  • Respiratory infections like pneumonia; and
  • Peritonitis.
 

Other examples of medical malpractice include:

  • Chiropractic Malpractice;
  • Cosmetic Surgery Malpractice;
  • Dental Malpractice;
  • Medication Error Malpractice;
  • OBGYN Malpractice;
  • Orthopedic Malpractice;
  • Psychiatric Malpractice; and
  • Surgical Error Malpractice.
 

To see how our Orlando attorneys may be able to help you file a medical malpractice claim and recover the compensation you deserve, fill out our no-cost case review form.

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