Many people considering a Florida medical malpractice claim envision dramatic courtroom scenes of emotional testimony under a relentless media spotlight. The reality is the vast majority of these claims never even make it to a trial.
Medical malpractice claims that prevail beyond the early stages of summary judgment motions will most likely be settled during negotiations between your attorney and insurers for the doctors, hospital, or other health care providers involved. It is imperative that you are working with a dedicated West Palm Beach medical malpractice attorney with extensive experience in insurer negotiations.
Here are some key things to know about South Florida medical malpractice settlement negotiations.
Florida Medical Malpractice Law
Medical malpractice claims in Florida are a unique type of personal injury case. State law requires attorneys to investigate these claims carefully before pursuing them. We must acquire expert witness testimony to assert the standard of care was breached by the health care professional, and we have to provide ample notice to the defendants of the claim.
Whereas most Florida personal injury cases have a four-year statute of limitations in which to file a claim, the time window for medical malpractice claims is just two years. Depending on whether there is a government defendant involved, notice requirements may be even shorter than that. There are very few exceptions, so it’s important to act quickly if you have the slightest inkling you may have a claim.
Negotiating a Medical Malpractice Settlement
Florida health care providers can be liable for medical malpractice if they breach the prevailing professional standard of care for health care providers with their specialty. You have to show that the breach caused your injury and wasn’t just a normal part of the medical treatment or a known potential risk. You must also show the injury resulted in physical injury/financial damages.
If an insurer for a medical provider doesn’t see that you have met these criteria, it will be tough to sway them to settle. (It should be noted that Florida medical malpractice attorneys are paid on a contingency fee basis, meaning they don’t collect attorney’s fees unless you win your case. That means your attorney has strong incentive at the outset to “give it to you straight” on whether you’ve got a viable case. If we accept your case, we believe you have a solid claim and are willing to fight for you.)
Recognize that medical malpractice insurers, on the other hand, have a vested financial interest in not settling, if at all possible. As medical malpractice lawyers for plaintiffs, it’s our goal to fight for the best outcome for our clients, and that often means showing them that fighting the case in court – with a good chance of losing – is going to cost them much more than settling for a fair sum.
The last thing an insurer wants is a huge jury award. However, both sides have reason to reach a reasonable settlement if possible. If a jury award is within a certain percentage point of a reasonable settlement offer that was declined during negotiations, the side that turned down that offer can be compelled to pay the other side’s attorney’s fees.
What A Medical Malpractice Settlement Agreement Should Cover
Medical mistakes can result in both economic and non-economic damages. Damages are the monetary compensation for the harms resulting from the defendant’s negligence. Injured patients and their loved ones can recover damages in medical malpractice cases for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and diminished earning capacity. Your attorney should have a meticulous accounting of your damages when walking into those negotiations, so you should have a good sense of it as well.
Do I Need to Hire a West Palm Beach Medical Malpractice Lawyer?
There is nothing in the law that says you’re required to have an attorney to take on health care insurers, but it’s a very, very good idea – especially if your case involves serious injuries or wrongful death. Medical malpractice claims in Florida have very specific legal requirements, and your lack of understanding or application of the law can put you at a distinct disadvantage.
It’s not uncommon for insurers to pressure claimant’s to settle quickly, make low-ball offers, or delay claims an inordinate amount of time. These are examples of bad faith, but unless you know what you’re doing, you’d likely have a tough time proving it.
An experienced Palm Beach injury attorney can help push back, present strong evidence, and advocate for YOU.
Contact the South Florida personal injury attorneys at Halberg & Fogg PLLC by calling toll-free at 1-877-425-2374. Serving West Palm Beach, Miami, Tampa, Orlando and Fort Myers/ Naples. There is no fee unless you win.
FLORIDA MEDICAL MALPRACTICE AND THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS, August 2003, Florida Bar Association
More Blog Entries:
Expert Witness Testimony is Essential in Florida Medical Malpractice Claims, Sept. 20, 2021, West Palm Beach Medical Malpractice Lawyers