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Hiring a Fort Lauderdale Medical Malpractice Attorney? Read This First starstarstarstarstar

Before diving into the information you need to know before hiring a Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice attorney, here’s a quick overview of the medical malpractice situation in America today.

Medical malpractice is the third leading cause of death in America. This is revealed in several recent independent studies. 

That means between 200,000 and 400,000 people die each year because of preventable medical mistakes. This does not account for the millions who suffer serious, often permanent injuries from medical errors.

In Florida the problem is probably worse. Florida has notoriously weak doctor discipline. Lots of doctors from elsewhere flock to Florida, for the good weather and lax standards. 

Plus there are a lot of elderly in Florida which means more care is needed and Medicare funds flow freely.

Fort Lauderdale Medical Malpractice

HIRING A FORT LAUDERDALE MEDICAL MALPRACTICE ATTORNEY? READ THIS FIRSTFort Lauderdale is one place where medical malpractice thrives. Located in Broward County on Florida’s “gold coast,” Fort Lauderdale is a major city with lots of neighboring suburbs. Retirees, tourists, working class and the wealthy all live in this bustling palm-tree metropolis.

As the county seat of Broward County, Fort Lauderdale is the home of the main courthouse. 

This city of 165,000 has been the scene of many dramatic events, none more important than the vote count of “hanging chads” in the 2000 Presidential election.

Fort Lauderdale houses Broward General Medical Center and Imperial Point Medical Center, both of which are public hospitals under the control of Broward Health.

Broward General is the largest hospital in the city, as a Level 1 trauma center with a 716-bed acute care service.

Broward General also serves as a teaching hospital for medical students from Nova Southeastern University’s Osteopathic Medicine School.

Imperial Point Medical Center is a smaller 204-bed hospital, and the city also has Holy Cross Hospital, with 571 beds operated by the Catholic Church.

What most people do not know is that medical malpractice cases in Florida are complex and expensive.  Knowing the legal ins and outs in medical malpractice is no small feat. 

Florida’s Medical Malpractice Act, Florida Statutes 766, has been amended and changed on an almost annual basis. 

It is perhaps the most complex assembly of medical malpractice laws in the United States. There are notice requirements, procedural rules, presuit screening, specific rules for expert witnesses and presuit affidavits, examinations of parties and admissions of liability.

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Add to this the local issues that relate to Fort Lauderdale’s unique mix of private and county hospitals, independent and captive physicians and an array of other health care providers like ambulatory surgery centers and imaging facilities and you have a complex array of health care in Fort Lauderdale. 

Having a Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice attorney is essential to understand the hospitals, doctors, and insurance carriers who handle these complex cases.

Before you hire a Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice attorney, you will want to have certain information that the attorney will need:

You will need to have some idea about what malpractice or medical mistake you think happened. 

Another important aspect of a malpractice case is figuring out what the damages (injuries or losses) are.  That is, what damage did the malpractice case as compared to the original illness or condition that caused the patient to require some treatment. 

Sometimes that is obvious, such as a known surgical mistake or being given the wrong medication.  Sometimes it is more difficult to figure out. “Failure to diagnose” cases can present complex issues on proving the cause of the ultimate injury. 

The defense will almost always claim that the outcome would have been the same whether or not the condition had been diagnosed earlier.

It is important to bring this to the attention of the medical malpractice lawyer you consult with so he or she can assess what the best strategy should be.

Almost all medical malpractice cases require the use of expert witnesses. In Florida the Medical Malpractice Act requires that before any malpractice goes forward, the claimant (plaintiff, or injured party) must have a verified affidavit under oath from a  qualified expert witness that there was medical negligence and that it caused injury or harm.

In Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice cases, you should expect that an attorney handling your case would consult with one or more experts on the important issues of your case. 

In all likelihood the experts will have to be from other parts of Florida or from out of state.

Physicians rarely want to be on record as testifying or providing expert opinions against other professionals in their own area.

After obtaining an expert witness opinion, the attorney handling your Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice case may begin the presuit screening process, which again is required by Florida Law. 

During this period the attorney will send to the prospective defendant the expert witness affidavit and other documents and information as required by law, and begin a 90-day period when no lawsuit can be filed but other information is informally exchanged. There may be unsworn 

statements taken by either party, and written answers to questions or documents requested.

At the end of the 90-day period the defendant(s) may admit liability and demand arbitration on damages, may deny liability or may do nothing at all (which is the same as denying liability). At this point the lawyer for a victim may be able to file the medical malpractice lawsuit.

The case would then proceed in a manner similar to other cases in litigation. There will be written questions known as Interrogatories, a request to produce documents, depositions of the parties and other witnesses, perhaps a compulsory examination of the plaintiff, if relevant, and other events. 

Ultimately there will be a trial setting by the court and the parties will have to mediate the case (mandatory in Florida) or go to trial if mediation is unsuccessful.

A major issue facing Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice clients is that many doctors in the area do not carry medical malpractice insurance. It is not required in Florida and many specialties refuse to carry any at all. 

HIRING A FORT LAUDERDALE MEDICAL MALPRACTICE ATTORNEY

Florida only requires that physicians comply with financial responsibility laws. That means that if you bring a case against a doctor, go all the way through presuit, discovery, trial and an appeal, assuming you win at each stage and obtain a  judgment against a doctor, you can have their license suspended until they satisfy the first $250,000 of the judgment. 

The most important thing to know before hiring a Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice attorney is what experience, success and abilities the lawyer has. Is the lawyer someone who is recognized as being at the top of his or her field?

Are they accomplished in successfully handling medical malpractice cases in Florida? Is this something they regularly do, or just a small part of their practice? 

You want someone who really understands the complexities of medical malpractice cases in Florida.

Finally, look for a lawyer who provides personal attention and understands what you are looking for. Then you will have found the right Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice attorney.