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Medical Malpractice

Why Are Florida Medical Malpractice Cases So Expensive To Pursue?

Posted by on Apr 16, 2014 in Medical Malpractice

Why Are Florida Medical Malpractice Cases So Expensive To Pursue?

We are fortunate to have many potential clients come into our offices and speak with us about potential medical negligence cases.  Virtually every potential client has what seems like a legitimate complaint against a doctor, hospital, or other medical provider over the medical care that they, or a loved one, has received. In many instances we agree with the potential client that a medical provider has been negligent, however in many — if not most — cases we have to decline representation.  One of the most common reasons why we do not pursue medical negligence cases has nothing at all to do with the merits of the case.  Instead it has to do with the expense of bringing the case. Since most medical negligence cases are handled on a contingency fee basis (i.e. the lawyer invests his time and his own money in the case in hopes of being paid at the end of the case if his client wins), attorneys have to be confident that a case is strong enough and will generate enough in damages to warrant pursuing the case in the first place.  Because medical negligence cases are so expensive, lawyers generally do not take cases unless they have the potential to deliver significant damages. What makes medical malpractice cases so expensive?  The Florida Legislature has created a medical malpractice system that requires any claimant bringing a claim to have an expert witness prepare a written report stating that the care received by the victim from the doctor or hospital deviated from the accepted standard of care.  Sometimes multiple reports are required.  Each report will generally cost tens of thousands of dollars.  Doctors who are willing to criticize their colleagues generally charge a hefty fee for doing so.  And this is only the beginning.  Once a medical malpractice case gets underway there are generally additional, costly medical experts required.  Almost all of these expert witnesses will be located out-of-state, so travel expense is almost always required.  It is not unusual for a medical negligence case to have one hundred thousand dollars in case costs spent before trial even begins. Unfortunately, medical negligence cases almost always come down to having to make a business decision, and very rarely have to do with something as simple as whether the treating doctor was right or wrong. If you have questions regarding a potential Florida medical malpractice case, or how medical negligence cases work, call Winter Park personal injury attorneys Kim Cullen and Robert Hemphill at...

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Florida Supreme Court Declares Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Caps Unconstitutional

Posted by on Mar 27, 2014 in Medical Malpractice

Florida Supreme Court Declares Medical Malpractice Wrongful Death Caps Unconstitutional

In 2005, the Florida Legislature capitulated to the demands (and political donations) of the medical malpractice insurance industry and passed a law capping non-economic damages for surviving family members of anyone killed in Florida as a result of medical malpractice. In 2006, Michelle McCall was a young mother who tragically died as the result of the malpractice of several Air Force physicians during childbirth in the Florida panhandle.  Ms. McCall left behind a son, and her two parents.  The trial court that heard that case found the evidence in the case warranted an award of $500,000.00 to Ms. McCall’s surviving son for his pain and suffering, and $750,000.00 to each of her parents for theirs. However, because of Florida’s cap on damages passed the year before, the trial court was obligated to reduce the award to an aggregate of $1 million to be divided between the child and parents.  Had Ms. McCall had additional children, each of their claims would require a further division of the $1 million aggregate cap. Ms. McCall’s case (McCall v. United States) finally made it to the Florida Supreme Court last year.  Just last week, the Florida Supreme Court decided that the caps on damages in medical malpractice wrongful death cases were unconstitutional.  The Court reasoned that the caps were violative of the Equal Protection Clause of the Florida Constitution. The Court determined that the caps imposed an unfair and illogical burden on large families because each family member of a large family would automatically receive less compensation than members of small families — everything else being equal — because of the caps, regardless of the evidence of loss. Additionally, the Florida Supreme Court found that there really was no “crisis” or any other real or rational relationship between caps on non-economic damages and the health of the Florida medical industry.  Therefore, there was really no good policy reason to have caps on non-economic damages in wrongful death medical malpractice cases.  This is a good decision for anyone who has lost a family member in a medical negligence case. If you have any questions regarding caps on damages, or a Florida medical malpractice case, call Winter Park medical malpractice attorneys Kim Cullen and Robert Hemphill at...

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Did Halifax Surgeon Really Just Admit That He Performed Surgery On Patient’s Wrong Leg? (Video)

Posted by on Aug 19, 2013 in Medical Malpractice, Qui Tam (Whistleblower)

Did Halifax Surgeon Really Just Admit That He Performed Surgery On Patient’s Wrong Leg?  (Video)

I thought the story below was worthwhile to share for three reasons: First, I was shocked to learn how poorly Halifax Hospital is apparently being run. One would think that things would have to be pretty bad for the State of Florida to threaten to immediately stop Halifax from accepting Medicare and Medicaid. Two, I am very surprised that a surgeon would ever admit that he operated on the wrong leg because he “wasn’t paying attention.” Surgeons operate on wrong or mistaken body parts all the time, but it is very rare in my experience that the surgeon would ever admit fault so freely. While I admire this doctor’s willingness to tell the truth, it would not surprise me if, coincidentally, the Statute of Limitations had run on any potential medical malpractice claim the surgeon decided to become so forthright. Three, this story is important because it apparently arises out of information revealed in a lawsuit already pending against Halifax. Halifax has been sued by more than one former employee in whistleblower, also called qui tam, lawsuits. Under federal law, any whistleblower who comes forward with evidence that a person or entity has defrauded the United States government is entitled to recover a percentage of the money ultimately recovered on behalf of the government. The pending Halifax lawsuit alleges that Halifax has defrauded the Medicare and Medicaid programs out of millions of dollars. There is a similar whistleblower lawsuit also pending against Florida Hospital here in Orlando. If you have any questions regarding a surgery where the surgeon operated on the wrong body part, or if you have information that an organization fraudulently billed and collected money from the federal government, call Winter Park attorneys Kim Cullen and Robert Hemphill at...

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