Three 2014 Medical Malpractice Decisions You Should Know About
If you or a loved one has been harmed by a failed surgery or an inappropriate diagnosis, you should be aware of the major changes in medical malpractice law that occurred over the past year.
Court Defends Your Right to Sue All Appropriate Defendants
A recent appellate court decision in December defended medical malpractice victims’ statutory right to add certain potential defendants to their suit even after the statute of limitations has expired. In Florida law, the statute of limitations encourages patients harmed by medical malpractice to seek a legal remedy by limiting the time in which to file a lawsuit to only two years, with some exceptions. Therefore, it is essential to take action if you or a loved one has been injured by a botched surgery or missed diagnosis. A local Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice attorney can help you understand your options and ensure that your lawsuit is filed in time.
Under Florida’s statute of limitations, all “prospective” defendants, such as the doctor and the hospital at issue, must receive notice within this time period. However, determining which legal entities are prospective defendants can be a challenge. For example, it may not be clear until further investigation is completed that an anesthesia provider should also be held liable for the victim’s injuries. Therefore, Florida law tolls, or delays, the statute of limitations as it applies to all “potential” defendants, during the 90-day period after the notice of intent is sent, but before the suit is filed. Despite the Third Circuit’s attempt to equate “prospective” with “potential,” and prevent a victim of medical malpractice from successfully adding a new defendant, the appellate court defended the right to properly investigate a case and include potential defendants.
Patients Required to Authorize Ex Parte Communications
Once you set out to sue those defendants, however, the opposing party will gain access to some of your medical information, according to a controversial law upheld by another appellate decision in October. Before filing suit, patients will be required to authorize the opposing party to speak with their healthcare providers in “ex parte communications,” or without an attorney present. Despite concerns that these conversations could violate federal HIPAA patient privacy protections, the court held that signing the authorization is a required part of filing a medical malpractice suit in Florida. A medical malpractice attorney can help ensure that the parts of your medical history that are not relevant are excluded.
Certain Patients’ Damages Not Capped by Statute
Back in March of 2014, the Florida Supreme Court rejected the legislature’s attempt to limit how much the family of a wrongfully dead patient could collect in non-economic damages. The proposed cap would have limited estimations of a victim’s pain and suffering to $500,000 or $1 million, in order to reduce medical malpractice insurance premiums and attract a greater quantity of doctors to Florida. Not only does the decision potentially defend the quality of Florida doctors, but the court also noted that the number of Florida doctors has actually been increasing. The court applied the state constitution’s equal protection clause to overturn the law, noting that the cap would unfairly impact those who suffered the most grievous losses. As you consider your potential medical malpractice claim, you can be confident that Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice attorney Scott Newmark will help you obtain the maximum appropriate compensation under the law.