South Florida (Miami-Dade and Broward based) attorney, Olga Porven, Esq., discusses what factors are considered when determining whether you have a medical malpractice (negligence) case or not. The Short Answer - It Depends. That is why it is very important that if you believe that you or your loved one may have been harmed because of poor medical treatment, that you contact a local attorney to discuss the details of your case. The statute of limitations in Florida involving a medical malpractice case is two years. Although you may believe that this is a lot of time, it goes by very quickly when investigating a medical malpractice case. In addition, Florida requires that the medical provider that is being accused of negligence be notified and given the opportunity to investigate the claim according to Florida Statute. You want to give your attorney any advantage in properly documenting your case and injuries.
The Long Answer: these are some of the factors an attorney may consider when determining whether or not you have a medical malpractice case that they would like to take on.
Did the doctor/medical provider fall below the standard of care? - This basically means would the patient have received the same standard of care from another medical provider ender similar circumstances. The standard of care does not mean that the doctor is required to be perfect and not make any mistakes, misdiagnosis, changes in conservative versus aggressive treatment. In the State if Florida, an expert in the accused doctor/medical professional's field is required to prepare an affidavit stating how the doctor/medical provider fell below the standard of care before filing any type of law suit.
Did the doctor/medical provider's mistake cause any harm to the patient? If so, was the harm a risk that is normally associated with the type of treatment? Was the harm a risk that is normally associated with the type of condition being treated?
What is your current injury? Did you recover? What treatment did you receive in order to treat the harm that was done by the negligence of the doctor/medical provider.
Another factor considered by attorney(s) reviewing your case is whether the potential recovery from the case outweighs the cost to bring the case. Medical malpractice cases can be extremely costly to bring (hiring of an expert, medical examinations, etc.) For example, if the potential recovery for a case may be $45,000 but the costs associated with bring the case may be $50,000, the client will be left owing $5,000 at the end of the case rather than obtaining any monies for their injuries.
It is important that if you or a loved one is injured because of treatment you received from a doctor, hospital, nurse, pharmacy, therapist, dentist or any other physician/medical provider, you obtain as much information that you can regarding the injury or harm that was sustained (obtain all the medical records related to the medical treatment and all the medical records after the medical treatment). It is important that you or your family member(s) inform any medical professional seen after the treatment that harmed you (or your family member) of the harm, complaints, and exactly what was done to you. It is possible, that the doctor, hospital, or medical provider may offer you a refund, treatment and/or money in exchange for a release immediately after receiving your complaint or learning of your injury - do not accept money or sign any type of release without consulting an attorney. Many times after a claim is filed or the medical professional's insurance finds out about your injury, the insurance representative (adjuster) will try to contact you to get a statement. They are not on your side. Their goal is to prove that the medical professional was not negligent in their care and/or that you were not harmed. Olga Porven, Esq., is a former insurance defense attorney. She is well aware of what the insurance companies are capable of and has the experience in dealing with insurance companies to help you obtain potential compensation in your case.