Several states have sought to control increasing non-economic awards by implementing compensation caps for these types of damages. Most of these compensation caps directly address medical malpractice issues where malpractice premiums rose to a level to become disincentives for physicians to practice. The tort reform of non-economic damages was intended to ameliorate this situation and protect doctors and health facilities from exorbitant damages. However, advocates against caps argue that caps unduly penalize those victims who may require a level of damages to compensate for lifelong losses that can never be regained.
There are many reasons that a doctor can be held liable for negligence. Diagnostic tests such as blood work, MRI, ultrasound, CT scan, or x-rays are crucial when there is a possibility of internal injury, head injury, broken bones, organ failure, or illness. Failing to order these tests can result in a doctor diagnosing a sprain instead of a bone fracture, or missing pneumonia in a patient that they diagnose with asthma. Without the benefit of a CT scan, a patient diagnosed with a concussion could actually have a serious head or neck injury that can have permanent repercussions.
There are no guidelines for determining the value of a malpractice victim’s pain and suffering. A jury cannot look at a chart to figure out how much to award for pain and suffering. In most states, judges simply instruct juries to use their good sense, background, and experience in determining what would be a fair and reasonable figure to compensate for the plaintiff’s pain and suffering. Because juries are given so little guidance about how to calculate damages for pain and suffering, awards of pain and suffering damages can vary widely among plaintiffs with similar injuries.
Severe or disabling permanent injuries, such as a traumatic loss of vision, brain injury, or debilitating loss of mobility, are usually multiplied by 5 times; however, an automobile accident or serious injury that tragically leaves you in a wheelchair, or with disfiguring scars, or even the death of a loved one, may be multiplied by up to 10 times.
Inconsistency in one’s complaints can be a sign that the injured person is making something up. If, for example, someone with a back injury tells Doctor A one day that he/she is having pain down the left leg, tells Doctor B another day that the pain is down the right leg, and tells physical therapist C another day that he/she has never had pain down either leg, that person is going to have a hard time convincing anyone that he/she is having pain anywhere.
When it comes to the second emotional distress claims based on intentional conduct, it all depends on how the terms are defined. First, it has to be determined whether the conduct of the medical practitioner was outrageous or extreme. Secondly, it has to be determined if the defendant’s acts were intentional or reckless. Finally, you will be required to clarify whether the emotional distress was severe.
When considering whether or not you can sue a doctor for negligence, you must ensure you bring suit within the deadline set by law, called the statute of limitations. All civil claims and lawsuits must be filed within a certain period of time. In the case of Florida doctor negligence, a patient ordinarily must bring a claim or lawsuit within two years after the patient discovers—or should have discovered—the injury. At the very latest, you must file the lawsuit within four years from the date when the alleged malpractice took place.
As this article has made clear, it’s not easy to come up with a clear number that accurately accommodates for pain and suffering. How inconvenient or awful one person may consider a life-long back injury is not the same as another person. Likewise, how you determine a dollar amount is even trickier since both pain and how it affects someone is extremely subjective.
Having a solid prove of the elements of an emotional distress claim can be challenging. As the plaintiff, you are required to obtain a medical report an orthopedists or psychologists detailing the physical or emotional injuries suffered. To prove emotional distress, you need to show that the mental anguish was intense and lengthy. As well, the more severe or violent the underlying conduct was, the more likely you’ll be able to link your distress to that conduct.
The doctor's negligence caused the injury. Because many malpractice cases involve patients that were already sick or injured, there is often a question of whether what the doctor did, negligent or not, actually caused the harm. For example, if a patient dies after treatment for lung cancer, and the doctor did do something negligent, it could be hard to prove that the doctor's negligence caused the death rather than the cancer. The patient must show that it is "more likely than not" that the doctor's incompetence directly caused the injury. Usually, the patient must have a medical expert testify that the doctor's negligence caused the injury.
There is a functional as well as a sentimental component to loss of consortium claims. In the spousal context, loss of consortium often requires that intimate details of the couple’s relationship be examined and made part of the public record. It is important to be aware of that before considering whether to bring a loss of consortium claim. The sentimental component may include the impact the injury had on a married couple’s sexual relationship as well as companionship (such as if the couple used to go out dancing frequently). The functional component includes services the injured spouse used to provide (such as taking out the trash and driving the kids to school).
While most people may immediately think of a formal lawsuit when they consider seeking compensation for injuries caused by medical negligence, the fact is that in some situations, avoiding the expense and potential uncertainty of a formal lawsuit may result in a more favorable outcome. Others simply want to avoid "suing their doctor", but want to get compensation for their injuries. Read on to learn more about the options for resolving your medical malpractice case outside of the traditional court setting.
In the example above, emotional stress would include the plaintiff’s embarrassment or depression as a result of disfigurement. Likewise, the plaintiff would be compensated if the jury finds that the plaintiff has suffered a permanent loss of function or impairment from the jaw bone injury. The jury would also be permitted to consider the loss of ability of enjoy life’s pleasures such as eating or even kissing. Note that this requires proof of what the plaintiff did and what they enjoyed before the injury. A jury can also consider the expected length of the plaintiff’s life, lifestyle habits, and whether the plaintiff was generally healthy before the incident to determine how much to award.
Suing a doctor for negligence requires much more than just filing a lawsuit in a Florida court. One of the prerequisites to filing a lawsuit against the doctor requires that you must first provide him or her with notice, indicating that you intend to file a lawsuit in the near future. A 90-day waiting period follows, during which the doctor may reject the claim outright, offer to settle the case, or ask to submit the case to arbitration.