The Attack on the Rights of a Medical Malpractice Victim

For years, the medical and insurance special interest groupshave waged a war against the rights of victims of medical malpractice. Theresult is a myriad of laws and technicalities designed to prevent the mostinjured patients from seeking justice in the courts of the State of Florida.There are currently a number of laws on the books in Florida that are thedirect result of the lobbying and initiative efforts of special interests suchas the Florida Medical Association PAC which is the medical profession's topspecial interest group in the State of Florida, as well as the largestmalpractice insurance companies in the state.

One such example is contained in Florida's Wrongful DeathAct. While this law allows almost any family member (spouse, parent, child, andadult children) to bring a wrongful death lawsuit when their loved one iskilled in a car accident or as the result of some other negligent act, itsingles out medical malpractice cases and narrows the scope of those who areprotected by the civil justice system.

Under this law, only a surviving spouse or child under theage of 25 may prosecute a medical malpractice lawsuit. As a result, whenmedical malpractice kills someone who does not have a surviving spouse or achild under the age of 25, the responsible party will face no accountabilityfor negligence. Thus, even if the negligent doctor or hospital admitted thatthey committed malpractice and killed a patient, they will never faceaccountability to that patient's survivors. This "free kill" provisionleaves the most defenseless segments of Florida's population, including thewidowed elderly population and orphaned children, unprotected by medicalmalpractice tort law, while their doctors and hospitals can practice withoutaccountability.

Additionally, throughout the years, the medical specialinterests, most notably the Florida Medical Association PAC and the largestmedical malpractice insurer in the State of Florida, have repeatedly sought toimpose caps on non-economic ("pain and suffering") damagesrecoverable by someone injured by medical malpractice. In 2003, these specialinterest groups successfully convinced Florida lawmakers to pass a law thatgenerally limited non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases to $500,000and $1 million in cases involving patients who died due to malpractice or whowere left in a "permanent vegetative state". These caps were evenlower in the case of emergency room doctors whose liability for the injuriesthey caused was limited to $150,000. This cap was predicated on a claimed"medical malpractice crisis". However, in the case of McCall v.United States the Florida Supreme Court found that there was no evidence ofsuch a crisis as it struck down these caps based upon a violation of equalprotection as it "imposes unfair and illogical burdens on injuredparties". Since that decision, Florida elected a new governor who hasappointed three new justices to the Florida Supreme Court. These new justicesreplaced three retiring justices who took part in overruling the medicalmalpractice caps. Seeing this as an opportunity, the medical and insurancespecial interest have renewed their battle against your rights by recentlyintroducing a bill to revive caps on noneconomic damages in medical malpracticecases. The attack on patient rights on this front continues as this bill willlikely be considered in the next year.

There are multiple other examples of legislation that havemade it more difficult for patients to seek justice in medical malpracticecases. This includes a shorter statute of limitations (2 years) than in othertort/injury cases which generally carry a longer (4-year) statute oflimitations. The medical and insurance special interests have also convincedFlorida law makers to make expert witness requirements stricter in medicalmalpractice cases than in other types of cases. They have fought to deprive Floridapatients of their constitutional right to find out a hospital's track record ofadverse medical incidents, they have tried to make it difficult for you to hirea lawyer by sponsoring the 2003 Patient's Right to Fair Compensation Amendmentto the Florida Constitution, and they have prevented infants who sufferedlife-changing brain injuries during a negligent delivery from seeking fullcompensation for their injuries through the Florida Birth-Related NeurologicalInjury Compensation Plan (NICA). Each of these measures was initiated with onegoal in mind - to make it more difficult for medical malpractice victims toseek fair compensation for their injuries. These measures have the unfairimpact of shifting the economic burdens of negligent medical care from theinsurance companies of those who committed the negligence to those who willsuffer the physical and economic impact of it for a lifetime.

Because these and other Florida laws have made it moredifficult for medical malpractice victims to seek the assistance of thejudicial system for medical negligence, it is vitally important for patientsand their families who have been injured or killed by medical malpractice toseek the assistance of lawyers who specialize in this very intricate andtechnical area of law. At the Patient's Law Firm, we only represent patientsinjured by healthcare providers. With over 25 years of combined medical malpracticeexperience, attorneys Christa Carpenter, RN, Esq., and Eric Czelusta, B.C.S.,Esq., have the expertise, knowledge, and skill to navigate your case throughthese difficult laws and to get you the best result possible if you or a lovedone has been injured by medical malpractice or nursing home neglect.

If you need the assistance of a lawyer specializing in thisarea of the law, please contact the Patient's Law Firm at 727-281-4357 whereyour situation will be evaluated, investigated, and litigated by our skilledand experienced legal team. We are located in Palm Harbor and representpatients throughout the State of Florida Tampa Bay including Pinellas County,Pasco County, and Hillsborough County.

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