When Can I Sue My Doctor for Medical Malpractice?

Certain elements must exist for a patient to file a suit against a doctor or hospital. Not every incompetent doctor or undesirable health outcome gives patients grounds for medical malpractice claims. Florida’s medical malpractice laws state how, when, and why a patient can bring an injury claim against a physician. Medical malpractice in Florida has four main elements you’ll need to bring a claim; contact an attorney to discuss whether your claim has all the necessary elements.

Defining Medical Malpractice

The exact definition of medical malpractice differs from state to state. That means Florida’s laws are unique to Florida. Your circumstance must fulfill the terms of Florida’s medical malpractice law for you to have a case. You can find the state’s medical malpractice statute in Title XLV of the 2018 Florida Statutes, Chapter 766. The law defines medical malpractice as professional negligence within the medical industry that causes personal injury or wrongful death to a patient. You may need to consult an expert to define this tort more clearly in your case.

Required Elements for a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Florida law also states that it is the claimant’s burden to prove by the “greater weight of evidence” that the doctor’s alleged actions were a breach of the accepted professional standard of care in the industry. The accepted standard is a level of skill and treatment that is appropriate and prevailing by reasonably prudent similar doctors, according to the circumstances. In a Florida medical malpractice case, the plaintiff must prove four main elements:

  1. A doctor-patient relationship existed at the time of the alleged malpractice. The plaintiff must show that the doctor owed a professional duty to the patient. Advice from a friend who happens to be a doctor does not constitute a professional doctor-patient relationship.
  2. The doctor breached the expectations of professional duty to the patient. A breach of duty can be any action or lack of action that another doctor would not have done in similar circumstances.
  3. The breach of duty caused the patient’s injuries. The plaintiff needs proof of causation between the doctor’s alleged mistake and the patient’s injuries, illness, or wrongful death. If a doctor was negligent but terminal cancer caused the patient’s death, for example, the patient might not have a lawsuit.
  4. The plaintiff suffered resulting damages from the doctor’s actions. Finally, the plaintiff must have suffered actual damages from the incident. Damages can include personal injury, illness, medical bills, lost wages, physical pain, and emotional suffering.

You have the basic grounds for a medical malpractice claim in Florida with these four elements present, and you can most likely file a lawsuit against your doctor. Your claim will go against the doctor as an individual if he/she is an independent contractor working at the hospital or office. You could hold the facility liable, however, if the doctor is an employee.

Contact a Florida Medical Malpractice Attorney

You have two years from the date you discover your injuries (seven years maximum) to bring a lawsuit against a Florida physician for medical malpractice. Contact an attorney as soon as possible upon suspecting that a doctor’s negligent or unprofessional acts caused your injuries. You could be eligible for financial compensation.