Medical Malpractice

6We see medical professionals for help in our time of need – when we have an injury, illness or other issue. We seek their expert advice and assistance. What happens when negligence results in further injury or illness to us?

Medical malpractice, when a negligent act or omission by a doctor or other medical professional results in damage or harm to a patient, is a serious and long standing problem.  Negligence by a medical professional could include an error in a diagnosis, treatment or illness management. If such negligence results in injury to a patient, a case could arise against the doctor if his or her actions deviated from generally accepted standards of practice; against the hospital for improper care, such as problems with medications, sanitation or nursing care; or against local, state or federal agencies that operate hospital facilities.

Medical Malpractice injuries are often caused by:

Attorneys at Coker Law know that serious injuries related to medical malpractice can be devastating and that financial losses due to such injuries can be a catastrophic blow to any family. Our goal is to obtain prompt, just and fair compensation for all of our client’s losses, including the recovery of medical expenses, lost wages and related financial losses, the cost of future care, and compensation for physical and emotional pain and suffering.

Lindsay Tygart is a senior member of Coker Law’s medical malpractice division with more than a decade of experience handling personal injury, medical malpractice, neglect, wrongful death and catastrophic injury cases. Prior to beginning her legal career in 2006, she gained much of her practical litigation experience as a certified legal intern for the Office of Public Defender of the 4th Judicial Circuit.

Do you believe that you or a loved one been injured due to what may be medical malpractice? Do you know what really happened? Coker Law represents clients in a wide variety of complex medical malpractice cases. Our firm’s decades-long experience in litigating complex medical malpractice cases permits us to promptly and thoroughly assess and prosecute even the most demanding medical malpractice cases.

One of the most important aspects of a medical malpractice action is establishing the standard of care to be followed by the health care professional. To find a medical professional legally at fault, it must be shown that his or her conduct fell below a generally accepted standard of medical care. To establish the standard to be applied, the plaintiff must present expert testimony not only as to the standard of care applicable, but that also establishes that the defendant failed to meet the standard. In cases where the defendant’s violation of a standard of medical care is so apparent as to be comprehensible to the average person, expert testimony may not be required.

Causation, another element of medical malpractice actions, is sometimes difficult to establish. Specifically, the plaintiff must show that his or her health care provider’s deviation from the applicable standard of care resulted in his or her injury. This is challenging because often times the at-fault medical professional and their insurance company claim other factors contributed to the plaintiff’s eventual injury. The attorneys at Coker Law have experience to show the healthcare provider negligence was the cause of the serious injury.

In many situations, the failure to obtain a patient’s “informed consent” for a procedure or treatment is a form of medical negligence, and may even give rise to a cause of action for battery. Although the specific definition of informed consent may vary from state to state, it means essentially that a physician (or other medical provider) must inform the patient of the potential benefits, risks and alternatives involved in any surgical procedure, medical procedure or other course of treatment, and must obtain the patient’s consent for proposed treatment.

Although doctors very rarely promise specific results from procedures or treatments, in some cases they do, and the failure to produce the promised results may give rise to an action for breach of contract or breach of warranty. For example, a plastic surgeon may promise a patient a certain result, which result may be judged more easily than other types of medical results, simply by viewing the patient. Similarly, if a patient is not satisfied with the outcome of a procedure and the physician had guaranteed or warranted a certain result, the patient may attempt to recover under a possible breach of warranty.

Why Medical Malpractice Cases are Difficult to Prosecute

Due to the power and resources of the healthcare industry, many states have passed legislation making it more difficult to bring and prevail in medical malpractice actions. For example, many states have “caps” on the amount of damages and attorney’s fees that can be awarded in malpractice suits. In addition, barring extraordinary circumstances that affect the case, state laws provide set periods, called statutes of limitations, within which a plaintiff must file a malpractice action in court. In Florida, that period is two years.

Doctors, nurses, hospital staff and other medical professionals have a duty to provide their patients with reasonable care. If they fail to live up to these duties and cause injury through their negligence, the victim has the right to seek justice – full, fair and complete compensation for those injuries. However, medical malpractice cases are not easy cases to win. In addition to the already difficult time, we are in where some jurors have been conditioned to consider lawsuits suspect or frivolous, there are numerous complex legal and medical issues. Additionally, these cases nearly always involve going against large law firms and insurance companies who will seek to limit or deny their own clients’ responsibility for your damages. Contrary to what insurance carriers and some medical societies proclaim, victims of medical malpractice rarely sue. Those who do sue typically have “serious health consequences,” and need money for the medical care, pain management and/or lost income caused by the medical malpractice.

Medical malpractice can be committed by several types of health care professionals, including doctors, surgeons, nurses, technicians and other hospital workers. Regardless of the type of health care provider involved, the attorney must prove that the health care provider was negligent (acted below the applicable standard of care) and that the negligence caused the injury. Negligence by itself is not enough, and a bad medical outcome by itself is not enough. We must prove that the negligent act caused the bad outcome.

Medical malpractice laws are designed to protect patients’ rights to pursue compensation if they are injured as the result of negligence. However, malpractice suits are often complex and costly to win. While theoretically, you can seek compensation for any injury caused by negligence, regardless of its seriousness, time and money make it unrealistic to sue for an injury that is minor or heals quickly.

If you believe you may have a medical malpractice claim, it is important to consult with a qualified attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at Coker Law can help you determine whether your claim is worth pursuing. With our firm’s over 30 years of litigation experience, top trial skills, professional reputation and unwavering commitment to our clients best interests, you can be confident in our ability to handle your medical malpractice case.