Lawyers Palatka FL and Surrounding Areas: Medical Malpractice
A medical malpractice action is an action taken against a healthcare professional based on negligence. Medical malpractice actions most commonly involve doctors or physicians, but nurses, physicians’ assistants, or anyone else who provides medical care to a patient can also be sued for malpractice.
Although these are important considerations, to prevail in a medical malpractice claim and recover for the injuries you have sustained, lawyers in Palatka FL must prove the negligence of the defendant by a showing of the presence of four key elements.
There are four elements your First Coast medical malpractice attorney must show in your claim. The first is a duty to provide a certain “standard of care.” This means that a doctor or other health care professional must have the same level of skill and knowledge as other professionals in his or her field and must apply that skill and knowledge using appropriate care. In order for this duty to arise, your First Coast medical malpractice lawyer must show that the medical professional had a doctor-patient relationship with you.
Breach of Duty
Usually, this relationship is created when a doctor agrees to treat you, but it can also arise in other ways. In some jurisdictions, hospitals must provide emergency assistance to anyone who comes to them. In such a case, the hospital must exercise a “standard of care,” even though they did not explicitly agree to a doctor-patient relationship.
The second element your attorney must show is a “breach” of the required standard of care. This means that the medical professional who treated you lacked the requisite knowledge or skill or failed to exercise care when applying the skill and knowledge. This breach can occur through neglect or an intentional act. This element is usually comparatively easy to prove.
Frequently Asked Questions
Medical malpractice is defined as negligence committed by a professional health care provider that is not up to the acceptable standards of care as defined by others in the industry with similar experience, such as a doctor, dentist, hospital, nurse, and similarly trained health care professionals.
Yes, it is highly advisable to hire an experienced medical malpractice attorney. These kinds of cases are very difficult and complex and can become quite expensive. Having an attorney who knows what he is doing can mitigate the time and/or costs involved in winning your case.
- Medical expenses for treating your injuries
- damages for pain and suffering
- disfigurement / disability damages
- lost wages
- ability to earn wages in the future
Medical malpractice is not limited to just doctors. It also applies to nurses, dentists, physical therapists, hospital workers, health care facilities, and other similar facilities, such as nursing homes.
When an injured plaintiff has no immediate ability to pay medical bills as they are incurred, many healthcare providers will agree to wait for payment after the personal injury claim is finally resolved via settlement or trial. It is important to inform medical providers that you have no insurance or financial means to pay medical bills as they are incurred; this allows for alternative arrangements to be made. First Coast injury attorney John Fagan may be able to help you effectively deal with your medical providers.
Once a settlement or court verdict is reached, most lawyers will withhold some of that money to pay your doctors and hospitals. Many healthcare providers will actually require that you sign a form (a subrogation or lien form) that allows the attorney to withhold sufficient money from any recovery to pay your medical bills.
Generally, insurance companies for the tortfeasor (the person(s) or company that caused your injuries) will not automatically pay your medical bills. One reason is that they do not want to pay large medical bills and then be faced with an unreasonable or excessive final settlement demand. In other words, they do not want to expend a substantial sum of money on medical bills and then be faced with the expense of defending a lawsuit. Second, insurance companies prefer to settle the claim with one single payment. Therefore, most insurance companies will wait for a letter of demand from your attorney and attempt to settle case with a single lump sum payment.
Contact First Coast injury attorney John Fagan for questions about your personal injury case.
The third element is “causation,” which means that the medical provider’s breach of his or her duty needs to have “caused” your injury. What this means varies from state to state. In some states, you cannot receive an award for damages if you contributed to your injury in any way. In Florida, lawyers Palatka FL can help you recover for damages even if you are partly at fault. The amount you can recover will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, if a jury finds that you are 10 percent responsible for your injury, your award for damages will be reduced by 10 percent.
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Sometimes, even if you can show that medical negligence caused your injury, the medical professional will not be held liable because the injury you suffered was not foreseeable at the time the negligence occurred. In such a case, we would say that the negligence was not a “proximate cause” of your injury.
Finally, your medical malpractice lawyers Palatka FL must show damages that were caused by the medical professional’s negligence. Damages need to be quantified in monetary terms, and the question is how much will it cost to compensate you for your losses? Factors to consider include medical costs, lost income or wages, disability, pain and suffering, and emotional distress.