If you were harmed by a negligent healthcare provider, you may be considering taking legal action. Given everything that goes into filing a lawsuit, you’ll likely only want to proceed with the case if it’ll be worth your while. Even though money won’t change what happened to you, it can relieve the financial burden that resulted. It can also help you to feel a sense of justice.
If you’ve never been involved in a medical malpractice case, you may have some misconceptions, or you may not know what to expect. This post will explain the basics of these types of cases. For advice on your specific case, you should contact a medical malpractice lawyer in Lakeland.
What’s Considered Medical Malpractice
We don’t always get the outcome we want after we see the doctor. Sometimes, medications don’t work or they have adverse effects and surgeries are unsuccessful. While these outcomes may leave you disappointed and even angry, it doesn’t always mean the doctor or the hospital did something wrong.
To prove medical malpractice, you have to show that a medical professional breached the expected standard of care. This means they didn’t act the way that another reasonable medical professional would. If reasonable practitioners would have acted in the same way, it won’t be considered medical malpractice.
Some of the most common types of malpractice are:
- Surgical errors
- Delayed diagnosis or misdiagnosis
- Prescription errors
- Birth injuries
- Failure to treat
You will need to prove that you were injured and that the malpractice actually caused your injuries. If a medical professional made a mistake but it was caught before you were harmed, you can’t sue for medical malpractice. Furthermore, if the injury would have occurred or could have occurred anyway, it might not be considered malpractice. You will need to work closely with a Lakeland medical malpractice attorney to prepare a strong case.
Types of Damages You Can Claim
There are three types of compensation victims of medical malpractice may be able to claim. General damages cover a range of things including pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and the inability to perform certain functions. Since there’s no direct economic cost attached to these, expert witnesses are usually called to determine the amount of damages.
Meanwhile, special damages are those expenses and losses that have a clear financial value. These include medical expenses, lost income, lost future earnings, and the cost of home modifications due to a disability. You can easily prove these damages by presenting receipts, invoices, and payslips so there’s usually no need for an expert to testify.
Punitive damages are different from the two types of damages mentioned above and they are much rarer. These damages are intended to punish the healthcare professional for their actions. Punitive damages are usually only awarded when the defendant acted willfully or was grossly negligent.
The Statutes of Limitations on Medical Malpractice Cases
If you want to get damages, you’ll need to act within the time set out by the law. A statute of limitations in a personal injury case determines how long an injured person has to file a lawsuit. In Florida, you generally have to take legal action within two years of discovering your injury.
However, in some cases, you may have four years from the date on which the malpractice occurred. These limitations are intended to prevent medical professionals from being sued for something that happened a really long time ago. During that period, something else could have contributed to your condition. Also, the evidence of what happened may be long gone.
That being said, if the healthcare provider intentionally hid their negligence, you have up to seven years from when the medical error occurred. You still have only two years from the date the injury was discovered.
The statute of limitations governing medical malpractice cases doesn’t apply to patients who were under the age of 18 at the time of the incident. To be certain about the deadlines that apply to your situation, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. They will advise you on how much time you have to file a lawsuit.
It’s important to note that you must first notify the healthcare provider of your intention to sue. This notification must be accompanied by a sworn statement from an expert witness on the validity of your claim. Your attorney will find a medical expert who is willing to testify.
Contact Burnetti, P.A. Today to Discuss Your Case!
If you believe you were harmed by a medical professional, you need to get an expert legal opinion. Call a medical malpractice lawyer in Lakeland today and schedule a free consultation. If you have a case, we’ll do everything we can to get you the compensation you deserve.