Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

The Miami Herald has recently reported that the U.S. appeals court in Atlanta has upheld the Florida law that limits the amount of damages that can be awarded in medical malpractice cases. The law specifically limits pain and suffering damages in such cases to $500,000.

What are pain and suffering damages?

Pain and suffering damages are often referred to as non-economic damages. These are often hard to accurately calculate in number terms as they reflect the compensation for mental anguish, inconvenience and loss of ability to enjoy life. It is clear, however, how these damages can be significant in a case involving medical malpractice.

What does this mean in medical malpractice claims?

Medical malpractice claims are often difficult to pursue in Florida and other states. The law is very complicated and has several caps on damages which are dependent on whether an emergency situation, public hospital , catastrophic injury and other criteria. These caps are placed by law makers in an effort to cut malpractice insurance premiums and rates for the medical and pharmaceutical industries. These caps, however, also create arbitrary limits on compensation to victims which may often feel unfair and unjust.
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The Miami Herald reported this week that the Florida Senate approved a modified version of a bill from the House which changes medical malpractice claims and law suits in Florida.

The new law requires that any doctor testifying or submitting an affidavit in a malpractice law suit shall apply for an expert witness certificate.There is an application fee of $50 and allows Florida to discipline out of state doctors.

The law makes it harder for those filing certain malpractice claims by increasing their burden of proof. It indicates that a plaintiff in a medical negligence action for failure to order, perform or administer a supplemental diagnostic test must prove the breach of the standard of care by clear and convincing evidence. This is harder than the burden of proof of preponderance of the evidence.

The law also indicates that a hospital is not responsible for the negligence of a contracted medical provider unless the hospital clearly directs or exercises actual control over the event which caused the injury. The bill goes on to make several other changes and can be viewed at Continue reading

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