Florida medical malpractice lawyer, Guy S. DiMartino, explains the small damage medical malpractice case.
It happens all the time, doctors and hospitals are clearly negligent and injure the patient. However, after a few days in the hospital or another medical procedure, the patient's condition resolves. The patient calls around to a number of lawyers and they hear the same response over and over – the Florida medical malpractice system is not set up to handle these types of case. I'm sorry, I cannot take your case because in the end there will be no money to compensate you.
Types of Medical Malpractice Cases that fall into this category:
- A patient is given the wrong drug and has to be hospitalized for a short period of time with a short period of follow-up with doctors. The patient has no lasting effects from the bad drug.
- The doctor of hospital failed to timely diagnose an infection and because of the delay the treatment needed is more invasive. The patient has no lasting effects from the failure to diagnose the condition.
- The surgeon caused an emergency during the surgical procedure (injuring a blood vessel or another organ). This problem required additional treatment and hospitalization but the patient eventually recovered.
In all these cases there are strong facts to suggest that the healthcare provider was negligent – committed malpractice. Why won't a lawyer take the case?
The Florida Medical Malpractice System is Not Equipped to Handle These Types of Cases
The reason why you can't find a lawyer to take on a case with these injuries is the system is so expensive that the patient will not realize any compensation at the end. Medical malpractice cases are not like other cases where the lawyer can write a letter to the doctor or hospital and negotiate a fair and equitable settlement without spending thousands of dollars.
Even with smaller damage cases, patient will have to follow the medical malpractice act which is complex. The patient will have to retain an expert to review the medical records and give his or her opinion, which could range between $2,000 and $10,000.
The other issue with these types of self-limiting injuries is Florida's law on recovery or damages. In a medical malpractice case the injured patient would be entitled to receive compensation for the following damages:
- Past and future medical and hospital expenses;
- Past lost wages or loss of future earning capacity;
- Past and future pain and suffering.
In the above examples the patient's condition resolved after a period of time, which negates the ability to receive future loss of income (unless they lost their job because of the doctor's malpractice) and future pain and suffering. It is the future losses and pain and suffering that drives the value of medical malpractice cases. Without those losses – a jury will not be able to award those damages. So if a jury, give the patient their past medical expenses and past lost wages. The medical expenses will go to the healthcare providers who performed the services or the insurance company who paid the bills. The lost wages will be the only available monies to pay the lawyer, expenses and compensate the client. In these types of cases, the client can e upside down (in the red) after years of litigation.
Florida medical malpractice law is complex. If you have any questions about a potential medical malpractice claim, you can call me directly on my cell at (352) 267-9168 or fill out the internet consultation form on the right.