What Are The Odds Of Winning A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Florida?
“What are the odds of winning a medical malpractice lawsuit in Florida?” This is perhaps one of the most frequently asked questions when it comes to personal injury law. The short answer is perhaps disappointing for people looking to find an exact percentage on Google, but completely true – and that’s that it really depends on the specific factors of your situation and what lawyer/law firm you have representing you. Not all medical malpractice cases, even in the same state, are created equal. If you really want to know what your odds of winning a medical malpractice lawsuit in Florida are, you will need to consult with an experienced local attorney who understands the details of your case and can give you an estimate of how much you stand to recover, if any, in a settlement.
However, while the internet can’t give you the exact answer that you’re looking for (simply because only a lawyer would have all of the information from your case and from their experience), there are certain aspects of your case that may make it more or less likely that you will win, and there are precedents and statistics you can review that may inspire more or less confidence. Learn about what medical malpractice lawsuits are and what factors influence the odds of winning a medical malpractice lawsuit in Florida.
What is a medical malpractice lawsuit?
Medical malpractice is a term that describes when a healthcare provider’s negligent actions cause injury to their patient. If errors occur during diagnosis, treatment, aftercare, or health management, and the healthcare provider demonstrated negligence, that may be medical malpractice. Examples of medical malpractice include, but are not limited to: failure to recognize symptoms, failure to diagnose, misdiagnosis, misreading lab results, failure to order proper testing, unnecessary surgery, surgical errors, wrong site surgery, improper medication or dosage, premature discharge, disregarding patient history, and more.
Medical practice is not simply a patient’s condition getting worse, an unforeseen complication, or a bad outcome. These things are unfortunate, but in health, there are no guarantees, and healthcare providers aren’t superheroes (although they are close). As long as your doctor provides a reasonable standard of care and skill, they cannot be held legally accountable for what happens, even if it is unexpected and devastating.
In order to prove (legally) that medical malpractice took place, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff to show that four things happened.
First, that the healthcare provider owed the plaintiff a standard duty of care. A patient has a right to expect that their doctor will perform the right tests and ask the right questions in order to properly diagnose their condition, for example.
Second, that the healthcare provider violated that standard of care, or was negligent. It must be proven that the healthcare provider’s conduct fell below a reasonable standard of care with another medical expert’s (or several medical experts’) testimony. For example, if a doctor did not ask about medications that a patient was currently taking, and it is standard practice to do so, then that could be considered negligence.
Third, that the negligence caused the injury. If a violation of the standard of care happened, no lawsuit is relevant unless harm occurred because of it, harm that would not have occurred in the absence of negligence. For example, say a doctor, because they did not ask about the medications that the patient was currently taking, prescribed them a medication that was dangerous in combination with one that they were currently on. The patient had an adverse reaction that led to internal bleeding, which required surgical intervention. They would not have had internal bleeding or required surgery if the doctor had not been negligent, so it can be concluded that the negligence caused the injury.
Fourth, that the injury resulted in economic damages. Economic damages are financial. In the example above, that surgery may have been $15,000, and the hospital stay for two nights may have cost 30,000+ (these numbers are fictitious for the sake of the example). If the negligence resulted in a smaller injury that was not expensive, the cost of pursuing a lawsuit may be more than the potential monetary compensation the plaintiff could recover. Non-economic damages, like the intangible costs of the pain the patient experienced, can also be sought in a lawsuit.
How common are medical malpractice lawsuits in our state, and do plaintiffs normally win?
Common. It shocks many people to know that medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the United States; 10% of people die annually because of mistakes with their health care. Florida, as the third largest state population-wise, is not exempt from medical malpractice. According to the National Practitioner Databank, between 2006 to 2016 in California, Texas, Florida, and New York, there were 129,749 practicing physicians, and 53,301 of them were required to make payments due to malpractice. The True Cost of Healthcare’s website compiled data revealing that between 2012 and 2016 in Florida, the state averaged 51.86 claims per one million residents, giving it the 8th rank in the nation for malpractice suits. Florida is third in the nation when it comes to medical malpractice suit payouts.
There is little specific data on plaintiff win rates in Florida medical malpractice cases, but one article from the National Institutes of Health showed that it is difficult for plaintiffs to successfully recover damages in these types of cases, particularly if evidence is weak. Nationwide, physicians win 80 – 90% of jury trials with weak evidence of medical negligence, 70% of borderline cases, and 50% of trials in cases with strong evidence. Those may sound like discouraging statistics, but those just concern jury trials and do not take into account settling out of court, which many malpractice cases do, or the level of quality representation involved. What those statistics should do is remind injured patients that it is incredibly complex and challenging to win medical malpractice lawsuits in Florida, so it matters who represents them.
What factors influence the odds of winning a medical malpractice suit in Florida?
As mentioned above, evidence of negligence is key to having a better chance at winning a medical malpractice lawsuit in Florida. Without evidence that there was negligence and negligence caused the injury, there can be no case.
Whether or not the patient signed release of liability forms and waivers can also impact their case, but just because a patient signed a form does not mean that they necessarily had given informed consent and lost their right to sue.
Another factor that influences the odds of winning a medical malpractice lawsuit in Florida is time. Florida law places a four year statute of limitations on medical malpractice cases – the plaintiff only has four years to take action, regardless of when the injury was discovered. The longer you wait to contact a lawyer, the more likely it is that you will miss this window and will be unable to bring a claim.
Perhaps the single most important factor in winning a medical malpractice lawsuit in Florida, though, is the skill of the lawyer you have on your side. The Florida Law Group’s aggressive medical malpractice attorneys have recovered over $1 billion dollars for our clients. We have won many major medical malpractice suits, and we know how to guide you through the claims process and fight for justice on your behalf. Prestigious legal organizations have ranked us in the top 1% of law firms nationwide. Call today for a free consultation – you don’t pay our fees unless we win your case!