Florida medical malpractice lawsuits are filed when patients harmed by poor quality medical care deviates from the prevailing standards for their practice, specialty, and region. F.S. 766.102 explains that plaintiffs in Florida medical malpractice cases bear the burden of proof to establish by the greater weight of evidence that the health care provider represented a breach of the prevailing standard of care for that health care provider. Florida medical malpractice lawyer

As experienced Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyers, we understand these cases are among the more complex torts one can pursue in Florida. Plaintiffs in medical malpractice claims:

  • Have a higher burden of proof.
  • Must present expert witness testimony from a similarly situated health care provider as the defendant.
  • Bring their claims in a shorter amount of time (2 years) than most other injury claimants (4 years).

To help current and potential clients better understand some of the legal complexities of these cases, we break it down by what we call “the four D’s” of Florida medical negligence. These are:

  1. Duty.
  2. Duty Breach.
  3. Direct Cause.
  4. Damages.

Let’s break them down one-by-one. Continue reading

We all know distracted driving is deadly, claiming more than 3,100 lives a year, according to the NHTSA. And yet, rideshare drivers have something of a built-in distraction with the need to multitask on the road. They rely on a driver app that must be checked constantly for customers, directions, mileage, and payments.West Palm Beach car accident lawyer

A precedential South Florida product liability lawsuit slated for an upcoming trial alleges a ridesharing app creates an unreasonable danger that puts the public at risk of injuries. Although the case stemmed from a South Florida car accident, it’s filed as a product liability lawsuit on the basis of strict liability. In the legal world, a personal injury lawsuit alleging strict liability allows a defendant to be held legally responsible for the outcomes of their actions – regardless of whether the person was at-fault or negligent.

The upcoming Florida rideshare injury lawsuit, pending in the Palm Beach Circuit Court, accuses Lyft, a California company, and its Florida subsidiary, of creating/using an app is unreasonably dangerous and distracts drivers to the extent it causes crashes. In this particular case, the January 2019 crash on State Road A1A resulted in another driver suffering substantial and lasting brain injuries.  The victim was leaving work at a local resort when the Lyft driver allegedly struck her at an intersection. She spent more than a month in the hospital after the crash, and for a time after that, required 24-aid and attendant care. She also underwent extensive occupational therapy, physical therapy, and other specialty care.

Hertz is also named in the injury lawsuit, as a partnership between Lyft and Hertz allows rideshare drivers to rent Hertz rental cars for their rides.

The original complaint notes that drivers are required to constantly monitor their apps for financial gain (obtaining rides that generate revenue). In addition to a claim of strict liability defective design, plaintiffs allege direct negligence in hiring an independent contractor.

Are Florida Rideshare Drivers Inherently More Distracted?

Continue reading

A South Florida medical malpractice lawsuit against an eye doctor has been revived by Florida’s 2nd District Court of Appeal.Palm Beach eye doctor malpractice lawyer

Although ophthalmologists aren’t the most commonly-named defendants in Florida medical malpractice cases, eye doctor malpractice can result in serious, disabling injuries. Those impacted can seek financial compensation.

Examples of Florida eye doctor malpractice that can lead to substantial patient injuries (and would be grounds for civil litigation):

  • Not completing and reviewing the patient’s full medical history.
  • Failure to properly conduct an eye exam.
  • Misdiagnosing an eye condition or missing an eye problem entirely.
  • Careless errors during eye surgery.
  • Using tools that aren’t properly cleaned and sterilized, resulting in preventable infections.
  • Failure to seek and obtain adequate informed consent from patients.
  • Prescribing a patient the wrong medication or improper dosage.

In the recent Florida eye doctor medical malpractice lawsuit of Martinez v. Perez Ortiz, the complainant alleges the ophthalmologist misdiagnosed her condition and failed to properly treat it in a timely manner, resulting in permanent eye damage and vision problems.

Specifically according to court documents, the plaintiff underwent surgery for nasal polyps. After the procedure, she complained to the doctor about swelling and pressure behind and around one eye. The issue wasn’t properly identified or treated. Now, she’s seeking recompense for the harm done.

Importance of Expert Testimony in Florida Medical Malpractice Cases

As our Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyers can explain, the testimony of an expert medical witness is key to even getting these cases off the ground. Continue reading

When it comes to prisoners and guards in Florida correctional institutions, there is no such thing as consensual sex. The power dynamics effectively make it impossible for prisoners to consent to any sexual activity.Florida sexual abuse lawyer

If a corrections employee and a prisoner do engage in a sexual relationship, it is automatically a crime – under both state and federal law.

Specifically, F.S. 944.35 says that sexual misconduct is any sex act between a corrections employee that doesn’t rise to the level of sexual battery (or rape, which would be a higher level felony). Sexual misconduct is a third-degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison. If fellow prison employees know or suspect sexual misconduct between an inmate and employee and don’t immediately report it, it’s a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail.

Federally, U.S.C. 2241, 2243, and 2244 criminalizes all sexual relations and sexual contact between prison staff and inmates. Existing law states prison staff-prisoner sexual relations is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 1 year in prison, unless the staffer uses threats or overt force.

The U.S. Office of the Inspector General is on record as saying that penalties for inmate-prison staff sexual encounters don’t serve as an efficient deterrent, and have called for stricter punishments. (It’s well-established that most state laws – including Florida – are more severe, making unforced sexual relations between corrections workers and inmates a felony.)

Civil Litigation for Prisoner-Inmate Sexual Misconduct

In any case, it’s worth pointing out that criminal penalties aren’t the only legal action worth exploring in prison sexual misconduct cases. As our South Florida sexual abuse lawyers can explain, civil litigation is another legal avenue impacted prisoners can pursue. Continue reading

Any health care provider will tell you that with every procedure, treatment, or medication, there may be a modicum of risk. Poor medical outcomes aren’t always the basis for a South Florida medical malpractice lawsuit. However, grounds for such claims may be strong when the incident in question involves a so-called “never event.” Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyer

As our West Palm Beach medical malpractice lawyers can explain, the non-profit patient protection organization the National Quality Forum describes never events as mistakes in medical care that are clearly:

  • Identifiable.
  • Preventable.
  • Serious in their consequences for patients.
  • Indicate a major problem in the safety and credibility of the health care facility.

Not all Florida medical malpractice lawsuits stem from never events, but most never events likely amount to medical malpractice.

The NFQ has a long list of all the various incidents that are generally understood as never events. Some of the most common include:

  • Surgery on the wrong body part.
  • Foreign body left in a patient after surgery.
  • Severe pressure ulcer that’s acquired in a hospital.
  • Preventable post-operative deaths.

They’re called never events because, very simply, they should never happen. And yet, they still do.

$900k FL Medical Malpractice Verdict for Spinal Surgery Never Event

Recently, the Miami Herald reported on a lawsuit stemming from a never-event at a hospital in Fort Lauderdale. The tone of the headline, “Miami jury said a screw was worth $902,000…” seemed to indicate the damage award was somehow excessive. But as Florida medical malpractice attorneys can explain, it likely had to do with the fact that it involved a never event: Leaving a foreign body in a patient after surgery. Continue reading

When it comes to South Florida sexual abuse lawsuits against businesses, schools, churches, employers, and other institutions, victim-blaming unfortunately is not uncommon.South Florida sex abuse lawsuit

Our Palm Beach sexual abuse lawyers recognize that these attitudes stem largely from the greater societal problem known as “rape culture.” This is a term used to describe an environment in which sexual violence and harassment are normalized and excused by popular culture, influential people, and powerful institutions. Rape culture gets perpetuated through bodily objectification, misogynistic language, glamorization of sexual violence, and a general disregard for the rights and safety of those vulnerable to sexual abuse and assault. It’s the reason a lot of victims aren’t initially believed. It undeniably contributes to large percentage of sexual abuse and assault incidents going unreported.

When a person decides to pursue a civil lawsuit against an entity that failed to protect them from sexual abuse or assault, it’s not uncommon to see these harmful cultural undercurrents take center stage. We’ve seen far too many examples of this in Florida sexual assault lawsuits.

In 2017, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel reported that despite denials, the Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach County school districts had all blamed schoolchildren for their own sexual abuse in responding to sexual abuse litigation. In Palm Beach, the school district had argued in five separate sexual abuse cases – some involving kids as young as 6 – that the students’ own roles in the abuse should limit how much money the school district should pay them. In one case involving several fourth-graders molested by a teacher, school district attorneys argued the kids were not only careless and negligent, but “old enough to appreciate the consequences of their actions.” In other cases – some involving kids with emotional behavior disabilities – school districts arguing for lower financial damage awards said students were “culpable.”

This sort of defense tactic in a civil case is what is known as comparative negligence. As outlined in F.S. 768.81, it’s the idea that if someone bears a degree of responsibility for their own injury or harm, their damage award should be proportionately reduced. Of course, it’s one thing to argue a person hurt in a car accident somehow contributed to the cause of the crash. It’s quite another to argue that children are somehow responsible to any extent for the sexual abuse they suffer. Yet the defense sometimes still gets raised in these cases.

We may also see victim-blaming in workplace sexual assault or sexual harassment cases in the form of retaliation. Continue reading

Do rideshare companies do enough to protect drivers and passengers from sexual assault in Florida and beyond? According to hundreds of pending civil sexual assault lawsuits around the country against companies like Lyft and Uber, the answer is a resounding: No. South Florida sexual assault lawyer

Despite the fact that the entire business model of rideshare companies centers on the idea that they provide a safe way home, more than a few users say the experience ends up being anything but safe.

If you are attacked or have been sexual assaulted as a passenger in a South Florida rideshare, our dedicated West Palm Beach sexual assault attorneys can help you identify your legal options and navigate your next steps. Part of what complicates these claims are that the drivers are not considered “employees” but rather “independent contractors.” This designation gives companies some room to deny vicarious liability for the negligent or criminal actions perpetuated by drivers for the app. However, it doesn’t mean there’s no chance they’ll have to answer for safety deficits that result in harm.

We recognize that going up against a large company like Uber or Lyft can seem daunting. But with an experienced civil trial lawyer, civil litigation can be a powerful tool for pursuing accountability as well as meaningful policy changes that will hopefully make everyone safer.

Pending Sexual Assault Cases Against Rideshare Companies

At least 17 sexual assault lawsuits involving drivers and passengers alike are pending against Lyft, according to NPR. Claimants say they were harassed, assaulted, and battered. Yet when they reported the incidents to the rideshare company, the response was lackluster. Rideshare reps reportedly apologized for what happened, gave complainants refunds, and promised to suspend the accounts of the drivers or passengers involved. Some drivers who reported being sexually assaulted by passengers said the company offered them a few hundred dollars. However, there was no follow-up afterward.

Lawyers representing the victims say longtime rideshare company practice is to withhold user information – even in the event of a reported crime – unless there is a court order specifically compelling it. Plaintiff attorneys say this significantly delays or stymies criminal investigations and requests for civil orders of protection. They insist rideshares should go the extra mile to not only share user information to authorities when a sexual assault is reported, but also install cameras or audio recorders in vehicles that use the app. Such recordings could be used as evidence in a criminal case, but beyond that, hopefully would serve as a strong deterrent. Continue reading

One of the complicating factors in South Florida medical malpractice cases stemming from negligence in hospitals is that very often, the doctors are not direct employees of the hospital. Florida medical malpractice lawyer

Why does this matter? Because in Florida, employers can be held vicariously liable for the negligent actions of their employees. That means one does not need to prove the employer directly engaged in wrongdoing, so long as one can show the negligent employee was acting in the course and scope of employment at the time of the incident. When doctors are classified as independent contractors – separate from the hospital – it means additional proof of direct negligence by the hospital is required in order to prevail in a case against them.

However, a recent South Florida appellate ruling on a medical malpractice lawsuit may broaden the circumstances under which a hospital may be held vicariously liable for the negligent actions of doctors providing care at the medical facility. Justices in Florida’s 1st District Court of Appeal in Gradia v. Baptist Hospital  reversed the trial court’s ruling clearing the hospital of vicarious liability in a medical malpractice case.

As Palm Beach personal injury lawyers, our clients are those who have been impacted by the negligence or wrongdoing of others. However, we have occasionally heard of incredulous third-party defendants who wonder how they could possibly be held liable for someone else’s misdeeds. But there are quite a few instances in Florida injury law wherein statute allows for vicarious and third-party liability. Car accident cases may be among these. West Palm Beach injury lawyer

In general, there are three ways third parties can be liable for Florida car accidents:

  • Drunk driving accidents. In drunk driving accidents, third parties, such as bars or social hosts, can be held legally responsible per F.S. 768.125, if they either served alcohol to the impaired driver prior to the crash – knowing they were either under the age of 21 or habitually addicted to alcohol. This is called “dram shop liability.”
  • Employers of negligent drivers. If a tow truck driver is on the job and runs a red light, crashing into another car and causing serious injuries, the tow truck driver’s employer may be held liable – even if the company technically did nothing wrong. Employers can be held vicariously liable for the negligence of their employees if the workers were acting in the course and scope of employment at the time of the incident. This is based on a legal doctrine called respondeat superior, which is Latin for “let the master answer.”
  • Vehicle owners. This is where we sometimes hear the question, “Can I be sued in South Florida if someone else wrecks my car?” And the answer is: Yes. Florida is a little unique in this because of its recognition of the dangerous instrumentality doctrine. Basically, it was established in the 1920s by the Florida Supreme Court that motor vehicles are recognized as inherently dangerous instruments. As such, if you own one and you allow someone to use it (with express or implied permission) and that person goes on to operate it in a way that is negligent and causes harm to others, YOU can be held legally responsible. This is another example of vicarious liability for someone else’s negligence. However, it only applies if you have given that driver permission. If someone steals your car and then wrecks it, you would not be vicariously liable in that instance.

Sometimes, vehicle owners can be found directly negligent too – even if they weren’t operating the vehicle. As our Palm Beach personal injury lawyers can explain, there may also be grounds for negligence as well. Continue reading

A surgeon and the hospital where he worked are facing hundreds of Florida medical malpractice lawsuits alleging life-altering injuries to patients, who allege the doctor’s 2020 retirement due to a progressive neurological disorder came about four years too late. Florida medical malpractice surgery

By then, complaints of the doctor’s shaking hands, slurring speech, unsteady gait, mood swings, involuntary body twitches, and impaired judgment were well-established – both by patients and the doctor’s colleagues. But they were first documented back in 2016. Plaintiffs in the 348 Florida medical malpractice lawsuits filed so far allege the hospital should have intervened much sooner.

As West Palm Beach medical malpractice attorneys, we recognize that in many of these cases, liability often goes beyond the health care provider themselves.

Plaintiffs say the hospital not only should have known about the issue, but had actual knowledge. Specifically, numerous doctors, nurses, and patients specifically told the hospital – on numerous occasions – that they were concerned about the doctor’s condition and seeming impairment. In one instance, he was reportedly seen having difficulty keeping his eyes open during a surgery. In other instances, colleagues were allegedly having to prompt him during surgeries about what needed to be done. Instead of intervening, the hospital allegedly allowed the doctor to continue to become recredentialed and practice, but to schedule high-volume, high-risk surgeries – raking in millions in profit for the hospital.

The doctor resigned from the hospital voluntarily in 2020, shortly after being diagnosed with progressive supranuclear palsy, a rare brain condition adversely impacting neurological function and motor coordination. A year later, he forfeited his Florida medical license amid an investigation by the state board. We don’t know what official complaint specifically led to the Florida Board of Medicine’s intervention, but we know they have been piling up since then. Continue reading

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