Florida Court Rules on Medical Malpractice vs. Traditional Negligence
Florida statutes say that people filing medical malpractice claims must comply with certain procedural requirements. One of those is giving a pre-suit notice to the defendant in the case. The notice must include all medical providers for two years leading up to the incident as well as any providers seen after the incident. Medical malpractice claims are also subject to a shorter statute of limitations and must have expert witnesses to support their claim.
These requirements, although burdensome, are not an insurmountable hurdle. However, defendants often try to show that the plaintiff in the case failed to comply with the requirements once the suit has been filed. This can sometimes result in the defendant keeping the plaintiff from recovering damages that they would otherwise be entitled to.
Due to these requirements it is exceptionally important to determine if a case is true medical malpractice or traditional negligence. A state appellate court was recently faced with distinguishing the two types of cases and which cases should be considered medical malpractice rather than negligence.
Facts of the Case
The plaintiff filing the claim was an inpatient resident at a psychiatric facility. The resident was beaten with a metal handrail by another inpatient living in the same facility. The plaintiff suffered serious injuries during the attack and filed a personal injury lawsuit claiming that the facility had failed to provide appropriate security.
The facility filed a motion asking for a summary judgment claiming that the claim should have been a medical malpractice claim rather than a personal injury lawsuit. They claimed that because the plaintiff failed to serve a presuit notice as required by medical malpractice claims, the lawsuit should be dismissed. The judge for the lower court agreed with their rebuttal and dismissed the case, but the plaintiff appealed the dismissal.
Decision of the Appellate Court
The appellate court began the appeal by affirming the distinctions between cases that involve traditional negligence and those that involve medical malpractice claims. Because medical malpractice lawsuits are subject to extra statutory obstacles, the distinction is a very important one. The court further explained that in order for a lawsuit to be considered medical malpractice, the allegations are required to be directly related to the service or medical care that requires professional skills or judgment.
Ultimately, the court reversed the judgment of the lower court. Because of the reversal, additional recent cases from courts across Florida have been surveyed acknowledging that this particular area of law is obviously not yet settled. The court upheld that the plaintiff’s case could not be considered medical malpractice because the incident was not directly related to the services or medical care of the hospital staff and did not require professional skills or judgment.
Have You Suffered Injuries in a Medical Setting? We Can Help.
If you or your loved one has recently been injured in a medical setting, the Florida attorneys at Leifer & Ramirez can help. We have years of experience handling Florida medical malpractice claims as well as traditional claims of negligence. We know the distinct differences between the two and can ensure that your claim will be handled correctly and in a timely manner. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.