Medical malpractice victims in Florida may now keep the total jury award

Medical malpractice claims a large number of victims in the United States each year. In fact, the number of medical malpractice suits filed is increasing. On average, the number of suits filed each year is about 85,000. The number of medical negligence or medical malpractice injuries is estimated to be roughly one million per year.

At one time Florida, and many other states, had a cap or limit on the amount of damages a plaintiff could receive for medical malpractice. The cap was put in place to, among other reasons, discourage fraudulent medical malpractice cases by limiting how much each plaintiff could win. In June 2017, the Florida Supreme Court ruled in North Broward Hosp. Dist. v. Kalitan that medical malpractice damage caps are unconstitutional. The state Supreme Court ultimately stated that damage caps “reduce awards for plaintiffs who sustain the most drastic injuries.”

In North Broward Hosp. Dist. v. Kalitan, a Florida resident went to the hospital for a carpal tunnel procedure. During the operation, an endotracheal tube punctured the patient’s gullet, an injury that remained undiscovered while the patient was given pain medications for severe back and chest pains.

The patient was discharged but passed out at home and was rushed back to the emergency room. The victim filed a medical malpractice lawsuit asking the court for compensation for their cataclysmic injury. The trial jury handed down a $4 million verdict. However, the plaintiff received only $700,000 thanks to the damage cap.

Florida Supreme Court’s decision in North Broward Hosp. Dist. v. Kalitan set a precedent for future medical negligence claims in Florida and potentially nation-wide. Medical malpractice plaintiffs in Florida can now recover fair compensation for every injury sustained as a result of medical negligence without fear of a cap reducing an award.

If you feel that you have been the victim of medical malpractice, reach out and contact Joyce & Reyes, who have over 30 years of experience in handling medical malpractice cases. Have your case professionally assessed by competent and knowledgeable medical malpractice attorneys, find out your legal rights and how to move forward with filing a claim. Every Tampa medical malpractice case is accepted on a contingency basis. That means you are not responsible for attorney fees and costs unless the case is successful.

Things to know about medical malpractice claims in Florida

Medical errors are a huge problem in the United States as well as the State of Florida. Mistakes by medical professionals happen more often than most people realize. Moreover, medical malpractice errors can cause serious and debilitating injuries and conditions that could ruin someone’s life and even end in a fatality.

A study performed by Johns Hopkins Medicine in 2016 proved that medical errors account for 250,000 deaths per year, every year. That makes fatalities caused by medical malpractice 10 percent of all deaths in the United States. If you or a loved one believe that medical malpractice occurred, you should know of the types of medical errors that most often happen:

  • Failure to diagnose or misdiagnose
  • Failure to order appropriate tests
  • Failure to clean an area to prevent infections
  • Prescribing the wrong medication
  • Mistakes made during surgical procedures
  • Mistakes made during anesthesia

Not every bad outcome from a procedure means that you have a malpractice case. Before you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit you should consult with an experienced Florida medical malpractice attorney. That attorney would hire an independent expert to evaluate your circumstances and render an opinion.

Florida law provides that a medical malpractice lawsuit has to be filed within two years of the date of the malpractice or the point where you should have known that a medical error occurred. If you do not file within two years, then you will be forever barred from filing suit and recovering money for your injuries.

It is best to contact an experienced Florida medical malpractice attorney if you believe a medical error has occurred. The next thing to do is to make sure you obtain a copy of all the pertinent medical records so that your attorney can review them and, if appropriate, send them to an independent medical expert to review.

If you have been subject to a medical error, please do not hesitate to contact the lawyers at Joyce & Reyes at (813) 251-2007. The initial consultation is free.

Attorney for Aaron Hernandez’s daughter files lawsuit against NFL over severe brain injury

Aaron Hernandez’s daughter has filed a lawsuit against the NFL and the New England Patriots, after the former football player was diagnosed postmortem with State III chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

Hernandez was a standout University of Florida football player before playing for the Patriots. He was arrested in 2013 for the murder of Odin Lloyd, found guilty in 2015, and sentenced to life in prison. He committed suicide in prison in April.

Jose Baez, the attorney for Hernandez’s daughter, said that researchers found Hernandez’s CTE to be “the most severe case they had ever seen in someone of Aaron’s age.” Hernandez had a level of CTE normally found in players with a median age of death of 67 years. Baez released images of Hernandez’s brain showing extensive deposits of the tau protein, a strong indicator of CTE. More than 100 deceased NFL players have been diagnosed with CTE, which can only be diagnosed after death. Hernandez is one of several players who were diagnosed with CTE after committing suicide.

The lawsuit claims the team and the league misrepresented and concealed the risk to NFL players of repeated traumatic head impacts and needlessly delayed the adoption of policies and rules to protect players’ safety with regard to concussions and subconcussive head trauma. The lawsuit seeks $20 million and alleges that the defendants deprived Hernandez’s daughter of the companionship, affection, love and society of her father while he was alive.

In 2013, the NFL reached an estimated $1 billion settlement over brain injuries among thousands of retired players, agreeing to pay compensation to victims, underwrite research and fund medical exams.

Florida couple file medical malpractice lawsuit over allegedly botched surgery

A Florida couple filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against a medical facility and doctor, claiming that a surgery resulted in nerve damage.

Knud Hostrup and Maria Luzia Hostrup filed the lawsuit against doctor Matthew E. Wells and an orthopedic surgery and sports medicine center May 2, alleging medical malpractice.

The complaint alleges that Mr. Hostrup needed surgery for a right humerus fracture after suffering a fall in his home. The plaintiffs claim that the doctor’s actions caused Mr. Hostrup’s radial nerve to be trapped under a plate used to reduce the fracture, and that permanent and severe nerve damage to his right arm resulted. Metal plates are often used for internal fixation of fractures. Injury to the radial nerve can be a severe injury that may result in weakness and difficulty in moving the hand, wrist or fingers.

According to the complaint, the defendants failed to treat Mr. Hostrup’s underlying condition properly, failed to properly perform a surgical repair of his injuries, and failed to properly supervise, oversee and train the medical center’s staff. The plaintiffs claim the defendants are responsible for the injury.

The plaintiffs are seeking compensatory damages, costs, interest and other appropriate relief available under the law. A jury trial is demanded.

Florida family wins $33.8 million medical malpractice award in brain injury case

A Florida family was awarded $33.8 million in a medical malpractice lawsuit after a judge ruled that a baby’s irreversible brain damage was caused by the decisions of a federally employed doctor.

The baby’s mother was a patient at Jessie Trice Community Health Center in Miami Gardens, Florida when the baby was born on December 2, 2013. Because the clinic is federally funded, the federal government is responsible for paying the award.

The mother testified that she pleaded for a cesarean section, but the doctor attending her labor and delivery refused, and left to attend another delivery. The lawsuit also claimed that the doctor was speaking on the phone with his financial adviser. The baby was not breathing when he was born, and he suffered brain damage due to lack of oxygen, according to court documents. Medical experts from both the plaintiffs and the defense agreed that the brain damage could have been prevented by a cesarean section.

U.S. District Judge Robert N. Scola wrote in his order that the boy, now age 3, has a life expectancy of an additional 9 to 12 years. Judge Scola awarded the mother $3.3 million and the father $1.1 million for their pain and suffering. He awarded $7.6 million for the child’s pain and suffering and $21.7 million for his economic damages. The award was not limited by Florida’s statutory cap, and will be paid in installments by the federal government.

Florida Supreme Court rules medical malpractice lawsuit can proceed

The Florida Supreme Court ruled that a Florida man can pursue his medical malpractice lawsuit against his deceased wife’s primary care physician for her suicide in 2008.

The justices ruled unanimously that the case should go to trial, upholding a ruling by the Second District Court of Appeal in 2014, which reversed the decision of the First District Court of Appeals granting summary judgment to the physician.

Justice Patty Quince said in writing the opinion of the court that the duty to prevent inpatient suicide did not apply to the case, but there was still a statutory duty to treat the patient in accordance with the standard of care.

According to the lawsuit, Jacqueline Granicz had been prescribed an antidepressant but had stopped taking it. The day before she died, Granicz called her physician’s office to report that she had stopped taking the medication due to side effects, and that she had not “felt right,” the lawsuit claims. According to court documents, the doctor prescribed a different antidepressant and said Granicz could pick up a sample of the prescription at the office. Granicz did pick the items up, but committed suicide the following day.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled that because Granicz was an outpatient, there was no duty to prevent her suicide, but the nonexistence of that specific duty does not mean the doctor owed the patient no duty. The Court said that the statutory duty to treat the patient in accordance with a standard of care applied, and the foreseeability of Granicz’s suicide was a matter of fact to be decided by the jury.

Physicians’ group asks Florida Supreme Court to reconsider medical malpractice case

A doctors’ group has requested that the Florida Supreme Court reconsider its rejection of an arbitration agreement in a lawsuit involving medical malpractice.

The request was filed by attorneys for physician Eileen Hernandez and Women’s Care Florida LLC, approximately two weeks after the arbitration agreement was tossed out in a case involving a stillborn baby.

The validity of arbitration agreements in lawsuits over health care has been a controversial topic of late, with the issue being considered by Florida appeals courts. The cases typically involve a health care provider asking patients or family members to sign an agreement stating that disputes will be resolved through binding arbitration rather than a jury trial. Advocates argue that such agreements take away the rights of injured people to obtain fair compensation from providers that make serious medical mistakes.

On December 22, the Florida Supreme Court rejected an arbitration agreement between Lualhati Crespo and Women’s Care Florida. Crespo delivered a stillborn son in 2011. She and her husband filed a lawsuit in 2013 and later requested binding arbitration under a state-law process. Women’s Care Florida said the case should be governed by the arbitration agreement Crespo signed, which would lead to binding arbitration through a different process.

The justices rejected the arbitration agreement, declaring it void as against public policy, in a 5-2 decision, because terms in the agreement clearly favored the health care provider, including terms related to the selection of the arbitration panel. Women’s Care Florida, in its motion for rehearing, said the state high court had encroached on the right to contract.

Florida ranked as most dangerous state for car accidents involving pedestrians

Florida is the most dangerous state in the country for pedestrians.

According to the advocacy group Smart Growth America, Florida had 5,142 pedestrian fatalities from 2005 to 2014 and a pedestrian death rate of 2.66 per 100,000 people. The group assigned Florida a high Pedestrian Danger Index of 177 by comparing data on pedestrian deaths with the number of commuters who get to work on foot.

Seven of the country’s most dangerous metropolitan areas for pedestrians are located in Florida, the group said. These included Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater, Lakeland-Winter Haven, Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach, Jacksonville, Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, Palm Bay-Melborne-Titusville, and Cape-Coral-Fort Myers.

The director of the National Complete Streets Coalition, Emiko Atherton, said that despite the poor ranking, many Florida communities had actually improved from previous studies.

The study ranked 104 of the largest metropolitan areas in the country according to the danger posed to people on foot. Researchers found that seniors and people of color were overrepresented among the pedestrian deaths. While people of color make up 34.9 percent of the national population, they accounted for 46.1 of pedestrian fatalities.

Safety experts said that there are several causes of fatal collisions involving pedestrians, including unsafe street design, poorly maintained infrastructure, speeding and driver negligence.

Multi-million dollar jury award in Florida brain injury lawsuit

A jury awarded $18 million to a Florida man who suffered a traumatic brain injury in a bar fight.

Joshua Mathews suffered brain injuries after a 2012 altercation at Pete’s Bar in Neptune Beach, Florida. Mathews fell and hit his head on the cement after being punched in the face. He filed a lawsuit against the corporation that owns the bar, alleging that there was inadequate security and bouncers encouraged the fight.

After the fight, Mathews was in a coma for two months. He is in rehabilitation and has trouble speaking. According to his attorney, Mathews has vision loss and paralysis on his right side, and also suffers from aphasia, weakness and fatigue. Mathews has to be monitored around the clock, with his family using video cameras to check on his condition even while they are at work, his attorney said. The award will allow Mathews to participate in an aphasia program to help with his speaking and allow him greater freedom of movement.

At trial in Duval County circuit court, earlier police incident reports were introduced as evidence. Mathews’ attorney said that other bars had off-duty police officers standing out front and Pete’s Bar did not. He said that a bar’s duty to its patrons extends outside its premises, and the bar was negligent in failing to provide adequate security.

Florida Supreme Court Sets Arguments in Medical Malpractice Case

The Florida Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments in December on a constitutional challenge to a 2013 medical malpractice law. The Justices agreed to take up the issue of “ex parte communications” in medical malpractice cases.

In a case filed by Emma Gayle Weaver, the representative of Thomas E. Weaver’s estate, in Escambia County, the 1st District Court of Appeal previously upheld the constitutionality of the law permitting ex parte communications.

Under the 2013 law, defense attorneys representing medical providers accused of malpractice are able to access personal medical information of the patients involved in the lawsuit outside of the presence of the patients’ attorneys. According to Weaver’s attorneys that is a violation of privacy rights. Supporters of the 2013 law said that allowing such ex parte communications is fair, because it allows defense attorneys to access information that is already available to plaintiffs’ attorneys.

Before the law was passed, defense attorneys could interview doctors, but only as part of formal proceedings, with the patient’s attorneys present to protect their privacy rights. Advocates for patients said that the law stripped away privacy rights. Several lawsuits were filed challenging the legislation as soon as it was enacted, and the state high court will now decide the issue.