Medical Malpractice Accounting in Tampa, FL
Professional negligence is a category of law that deals with personal injury claims against certain licensed occupations. When a professional negligence claim involves a healthcare provider, we commonly refer to it as “medical malpractice.” Malpractice does not just apply to doctors; it can also include hospitals, nurses, clinics, and even laboratories.
Unlike other types of personal injury cases, medical malpractice claims are subject to special rules that often make it more challenging for victims to bring and win such cases. That is why it is essential to engage a medical malpractice lawyer who understands these special rules and can help advise you on the appropriate steps to take when moving forward.
Defining Medical Malpractice
Professional negligence, as the term implies, means there was a negligent act committed while rendering professional services. Proving negligence in a medical context, however, is not the same as, say, a car accident. For instance, if a driver runs a red light and hits someone in an intersection, the average person understands this was negligent conduct. But when it comes to professional negligence, the law often requires expert testimony to help a jury see how the defendant healthcare provider's actions deviated from the accepted “standard of care” in the defendant's medical specialty. Furthermore, there must be proof this deviation from the standard of care actually caused the victim's injuries.
Limits on Medical Malpractice Damages
In any personal injury lawsuit, a successful plaintiff may recover the full amount of their economic damages. This includes out-of-pocket expenses like medical bills, lost wages, and loss of future earning capacity. The victim is also entitled to an award of non-economic damages, which are primarily designed as compensation for their pain and suffering. However, unlike other personal injury cases, the law often imposes strict limits–or caps–on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases.
In some medical malpractice cases, a jury may also be in a position to award punitive damages. This requires proof beyond mere negligence in providing medical care. Indeed, the plaintiff must show by “clear and convincing evidence” that the defendant engaged in oppression, malice, or fraud.
Time Limits on Filing Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
As with any civil lawsuit, imposes a time limit on filing a claim. This is known as the statute of limitations. The limitations periods for medical malpractice cases follow a somewhat complex set of rules.
Basically, if the victim of medical malpractice was an adult, they must sue the negligent healthcare provider within a short time frame from the date the injury occurred, or within a shorter time after discovering said injury, whichever comes first. If the victim was a minor–i.e., someone under the age of 18–the limitations period may be longer. It is also possible to suspend or “toll” the applicable limitations period in exceptional cases, such as those involving fraud or the presence of a foreign body (like a surgical sponge) inside of the victim.
Given these strict, and often confusing, time limits, it is imperative you consult with a qualified medical malpractice lawyer as soon as you suspect you might have a case.