Either way, the consequences can be devastating. Some people experience a permanent injury, requiring a long and expensive recovery, and need a lifetime of specialized care.
Unfortunately, medical malpractice in Florida happens far too often—and in many cases, the injuries and the responsibility go unaddressed. That’s where a medical malpractice lawyer comes in. The best—like the Grossman Roth Yaffa Cohen attorneys who specialize in medical malpractice—have vast experience trying medical malpractice cases and know how to work with clients and medical malpractice experts to best present a case and obtain accountability and compensation.
Our medical malpractice trial attorneys have tried or settled thousands of cases regarding after-birth injuries, traumatic brain injuries, failures to diagnose, surgical errors, laboratory mistakes and more. We help people, loved ones and families better understand the medical facts and their legal rights in each case.
The medical malpractice lawyers at Grossman Roth Yaffa Cohen fight hard to get clients the compensation to which they are entitled. We have a distinguished and long track record of favorable verdicts and multi-million-dollar settlements.
How will my attorneys be paid?
In medical malpractice cases, the fees are collected on a contingency basis, which means your attorneys only receive payment if they make a recovery on your behalf. All of the costs of a medical malpractice case—investigative costs, expert costs, litigation costs and preparation for trial—are paid for initially by the attorneys.
In the end, though, our goal is your goal, and that is to help get you the compensation and justice you rightly deserve. We don’t get paid if we don’t recover for you. Of course, costs will always vary from case to case along with the facts and circumstances.
Picking the right medical malpractice attorney
At Grossman Roth Yaffa Cohen, we want you to make sure you’re prepared when seeking a medical malpractice attorney. We’ve put together four things to look out for when you’re choosing a lawyer that best fits your needs:
1. Does the lawyer have a proven track record?
This may seem obvious, but it’s important to fact check the medical malpractice attorneys you’re considering. Ask yourself: Does this person or firm have the proper financial and human resources to take on this type of case? Do they have the people in place to do this job appropriately and effectively? For our cases at Grossman Roth Yaffa Cohen, we have a team of lawyers and six in-house medical investigators who assist us in vetting and evaluating medical malpractice cases.
2. Does the lawyer have a deep understanding of medical malpractice law? Florida medical malpractice law?
Medical malpractice is extremely specialized in the state of Florida. Unlike personal injury cases involving planes, trains or automobiles, you can’t just go down to the courthouse that same day and file a lawsuit. There are number of laws in place to shield doctors from lawsuits, and you must make sure these laws are complied with—otherwise, your case may be tossed out. Also, your case needs to be vetted by an expert, and then that expert needs to sign an affidavit. Once that happens, there’s an entire pre-suit process that must happen.
3. Does the law firm have an appropriate stable of medical malpractice experts to handle the pre-suit process?
This is an extremely important one. Experts in these types of cases are invaluable, and we always suggest seeking a firm that has the best qualified experts. This way, you’re sure the expert on your case is stable and reliable.
How to prove a medical malpractice case and what to expect:
By understanding how medical malpractice lawsuits work and what steps and requirements are involved, patients who have been injured can become advocates in their own recovery. They can obtain damage awards and settlements that help pay the medical bills and make up for the loss of income that never should have happened.
In any medical malpractice case, the plaintiff and his or her medical malpractice attorney must establish the following elements:
- A duty was owed to the patient. This exists whenever a hospital or medical provider undertakes a patient’s treatment.
- A duty was breached. In other words, the hospital or medical provider failed to follow the relevant standard of care.
- The breach caused an injury. In legal terms, the medical malpractice must be the “proximate cause” of the injury suffered.
- These are losses—financial, physical, emotional—that result from the negligent act or omission. Damages can be recovered by the medical negligence victim and certain family members and can include reduced wages due to a disability, severe pain and emotional distress associated with injuries, or reduced enjoyment of life.
It’s important to note that a medical negligence claim cannot be brought successfully unless all four of the above elements are present.
After a case is filed by the plaintiff’s medical malpractice lawyer, the discovery process begins—a period in which both sides share information that pertains to the case, such as medical records and patient histories. Many medical malpractice claims are settled during this time, but if the parties cannot agree on a fair resolution, the case will proceed to trial. There, the plaintiff must prove, by a preponderance of evidence, the four elements of his or her medical malpractice case. Expert witnesses—individuals with specialized knowledge, training or experience regarding specific medical issues—are particularly important, helping the plaintiff establish the prevailing standard of care and how the defendant’s action or omission deviated from it.
At the end of the trial, a jury will weigh the evidence that was presented and determine which side has the more credible case. If that determination is a verdict in favor of the plaintiff, the jury or judge will calculate damages, typically awarding a monetary sum to compensate the injured party. Awards can consist of punitive damages, as well, though these are typically granted only when the negligence was particularly outrageous. Either side can appeal the court’s judgment; a losing defendant can also ask to have a large judgment reduced. These requests may—but often do not—succeed.
Medical malpractice lawsuits are complex, and even the most egregious medical negligence can go unanswered if the cases are not handled properly. An experienced medical malpractice lawyer can increase one’s chances of prevailing by presenting a comprehensive, documented, easy-to-follow explanation of what went wrong—and why it shouldn’t have.
Common causes of medical malpractice
There are a great many types of preventable medical errors. Battling these is no simple task. Patients themselves can help by learning to be more vigilant and in questioning a doctor’s treatment. Through understanding what the most common errors are, patients can play a key role in avoiding the serious, and wholly unnecessary, consequences that have harmed so many patients before them.
Information for any patient is empowering. With that in mind, here are the most common causes of medical malpractice (in no particular order of preference):
- Misdiagnosis. A patient is treated for one condition but actually suffers from another. This is often the result of health care professionals misreading test results and symptoms—an all too frequent occurrence. The consequences can be severe—and at times deadly. According to a 2009 analysis, the five most common misdiagnosed conditions are infection, cancer, heart attack, blood clots to the lung and heart disease.
- Wrong-Site Surgery. It happens far more often than most patients think: A healthy kidney is removed while the damaged one is left untouched; the left arm is mistakenly marked for amputation when the right arm should have been removed. Again, results can be catastrophic, frequently leaving patients severely disfigured or direly ill.
- Medication Errors. According to a 2006 study, medication errors cause some 400,000 preventable injuries each year in hospitals. Another 800,000 injuries occur while patients are in long-term care, and Medicare recipients in outpatient clinics suffer another 530,000 or so injuries due to medication errors.
- Failure to Monitor Patients Properly After Treatment. The surgery seemed successful, and the patient appears to be resting in the recovery room. What in fact is happening, though, is that he’s had a reaction to one of his medications, and his heart rate is dropping. Because of lax monitoring, this is not noticed until it is too late—and the patient has died.
- Delay in Treatment. A mother-to-be arrives at the hospital with frequent contractions. The hospital staff notices the baby’s decreasing heart rate, but instead of rushing the mother in for an emergency C-section, doctors and nurses monitor the situation for an hour. As a result, the baby suffers severe and permanent brain injuries. Such a dangerous delay in treatment isn’t limited to the maternity ward. It can occur—with tragic consequences—in any medical specialty.
- Inadequate Follow-up After Treatment. The patient complains of pain after outpatient surgery. The doctor advises her to take Advil and get some rest. By morning, the discomfort level has increased. Again, the doctor advises rest and over-the-counter pain relievers. By evening, when the patient is rushed to the emergency room, it is clear that a severe complication from the surgery has resulted—one that could and should have been more effectively treated had the patient been examined earlier.
- Failure to Take a Proper Medical History Before Treatment. Prior to surgery, a doctor or nurse fails to ask the patient about allergic reactions to common drugs. So, the wrong anesthetic is used—and the patient lapses into a nonreversible coma.
- Failure to Act on Test Results. A doctor orders tests, which are quickly carried out and reported. But the doctor gets sidetracked or goes home for the day, and doesn’t look at the results promptly—missing a serious problem that could and should have been treated immediately. Instead of receiving lifesaving urgent care, the patient’s condition deteriorates—even fatally.
- Failure to Use Standard Tests Appropriate to the Circumstances. A common example: The patient arrives in the emergency room complaining of chest pain. The physician diagnoses her with indigestion—never doing an EKG or ordering cardiac enzymes, tests that could quickly point to heart trouble. The patient is sent home when she needed immediate treatment, and she suffers a fatal heart attack hours later.
- Technical Errors. These are the preventable mistakes that happen in the course of treatment. For example, a surgeon nicks an artery or vital organ during an operation. While the damage can sometimes be repaired quickly, many times it cannot—and the consequences can be dire.
- Communication Errors. A general practitioner sends his patient to a specialist. While treating one problem, the specialist discovers another—a tumor. The specialist says nothing to the patient, expecting and assuming that the general practitioner will tell her about the tumor, then treat it and follow up. However, the doctors never speak, and the specialist’s report recording discovery of the tumor is simply sent to the GP’s office and filed away in the patient’s chart. Months or years pass and the patient, now deathly ill, appears back in the general practitioner’s office. The staff finds the buried report. But it is too late for treatment, and the patient ends up paying the ultimate price. In another case, a nurse is charged with being the eyes and ears of a doctor in his absence. She is responsible for monitoring a hospitalized patient and notifying the doctor of significant developments. She does neither. By the time the doctor comes around to check, the patient’s condition has deteriorated irreversibly, and the doctor is unable to save him. Good communication is an essential component of successful medical care. Without it, as in these and far too many other cases, the consequences can be tragic.
Ultimately, the ability to prevent or enable these medical errors rests with individual doctors or the medical staff. But patients can be their own best advocates—and protectors.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to medical malpractice, contact Grossman Roth Yaffa Cohen for a free consultation on your case, or call 1 (888) 296-1681.
After being taken to a South Florida hospital while suffering from a heart attack, a 53-year-old man underwent a cardiac catheterization, which is a procedure to examine how well your heart is working. After successfully opening and stenting his blocked artery, while in the recovery room, the patient suffered another heart attack, but this time it took medical staff nearly 90 minutes to get him back to the catheterization lab. Due to the delay, his heart stopped. He was revived in the operating room, but he suffered a hypoxic brain injury, causing massive brain damage. He now requires 24-hour nursing care and is unable to walk or talk. GRYC was able to successfully obtain an eight figure settlement for the victim, his wife and two children.
A middle-aged woman was in a Broward County hospital recovering from a brain aneurysm. While recovering in her hospital room, she grew agitated and began pulling on the tracheostomy tube connected to her neck. The nurse on duty documented that she was pulling at her tubes six different times in 24 hours, and yet did nothing to prevent her from being able to dismantle the tubes.
When the nurse next arrived for a routine check-in, the patient was found on the floor, lifeless, with all tubes, monitors, IVs and clothing removed from her body. This incident caused her to suffer a hypoxic brain injury. She was expected to make a full recovery after the brain aneurysm, but the hypoxic brain injury she suffered from this event caused massive damage. Now, she is unable to walk or talk and needs 24-hour nursing care for the rest of her life. The victim and her husband sued the hospital. Prior to trial, GRYC was able to successfully negotiate an eight-figure settlement.
A 46-year-old man was undergoing heart surgery at a South Florida hospital after suffering a heart attack. The cardiologist that was assigned to the surgery did not consult with a heart surgeon before performing the surgery. During the procedure, the cardiologist perforated the patient’s left anterior descending artery. The patient died, leaving behind an 11-year-old daughter and wife. The family of the victim sued the hospital and received a seven-figure settlement.
A wife and mother of three in her early 40’s entered a South Florida emergency department after suffering from the flu for a few days. Upon arrival, doctors noted she was in critical condition and in “impending cardiovascular collapse.” Her heart rate and blood pressure were low, she was cyanotic and blood work showed evidence of heart damage. A CT scan revealed the patient was suffering from Cardiac Tamponade, which is a condition where fluid surrounds the heart, not allowing it to beat properly. Tragically, the CT scan was never relayed to her treating physicians or nurses. Overnight, while in the intensive care unit the patient continued to deteriorate, yet the nursing staff failed to alert any doctors of her condition. When a Cardiologist finally saw her over 18 hours after she arrived in critical condition, he quickly diagnosed the Cardiac Tamponade and attempted to relieve the pressure around her heart by placing a needle into the pericardial sac to drain the fluid. Unfortunately, the hours of her heart not being able to function properly caused irreversible damage and she tragically died soon after the procedure. After extensive litigation, with trial fast approaching, the GRYC team was able to successfully negotiate a seven-figure settlement.
A middle-aged man had history of an aortic aneurysm. The aneurysm was asymptomatic for over four years, and the patient had a plan for what would happen if it became symptomatic again. His plan was to fly to one of the top heart centers in the nation, where a doctor was scheduled to repair the aneurysm. When the aneurysm became symptomatic, he was admitted to a South Florida hospital for care thereafter expecting a transfer to the heart center he had chosen within a reasonable amount of time. Rather than starting the transfer the day he arrived, the hospital waited three days, and then failed to get his insurance company to pay for the transfer. Tragically, while the patient was speaking with the insurance company on the phone about the transfer, the aneurysm ruptured, and he died. Two teenage daughters and a wife survive him. The family sued the hospital that delayed his treatment, and they settled for a seven-figure award.
A 68-year-old man was on vacation on the west coast of Florida with his entire family. The day before he was to go home, he started complaining about pain in his left leg, which was swollen, red and painful. He went to a local emergency room, and the family asked the doctor if it was a blood clot. (The family had a close relative that had previously endured similar symptoms from a blood clot.) The doctor assured the family that it was not a blood clot but was instead cellulitis from a sunburn. The physician encouraged the patient to visit his primary care physician when he returned home. When the patient returned home the next day, he died of a pulmonary embolism due to the blood clot that was initially suspected by the family. The family sued the hospital for misdiagnosing the patient and received a seven-figure settlement.
A middle-aged man had history of an aortic aneurysm. The aneurysm was asymptomatic for over four years, and the patient had a plan for what would happen if it became symptomatic again. His plan was to fly to Stanford University, where a doctor was scheduled to repair the aneurysm. When the aneurysm became symptomatic, he was admitted to a South Florida hospital for care thereafter expecting a transfer to Stanford University within a reasonable amount of time. Rather than starting the transfer to Stanford the day he arrived, the hospital waited three days, and then failed to get his insurance company to pay for the transfer. Tragically, while the patient was speaking with the insurance company on the phone about the transfer, the aneurysm ruptured, and he died. Two teenage daughters and a wife survive him. The family sued the hospital that delayed his treatment, and they settled for $1.5 million.
A 68-year-old man was on vacation on the west coast of Florida with his entire family. The day before he was to go home, he started complaining about pain in his left leg, which was swollen, red and painful. He went to a local emergency room, and the family asked the doctor if it was a blood clot. (The family had a close relative that had previously endured similar symptoms from a blood clot.) The doctor assured the family that it was not a blood clot but was instead cellulitis from a sunburn. The physician encouraged the patient to visit his primary care physician when he returned home. When the patient returned home the next day, he died of a pulmonary embolism due to the blood clot that was initially suspected by the family. The family sued the hospital for misdiagnosing the patient and received nearly $2 million.
A $23.5 million medical malpractice jury verdict against the University of Florida on behalf of a woman who suffered a massive stroke when a medical procedure to ease her migraines went wrong.
A $9.8 million medical malpractice settlement for a husband and wife whose twins failed to receive the special attention they needed from Coral Springs Medical Center and doctors from the Omega Gynecology & Obstetrics Center. Numerous signs indicating the need for special attention during labor and delivery were overlooked. As a result of the negligence of these defendants, one of the twins suffered severe brain damage, rendering the child permanently disabled. The settlement will pay for the lifetime of medical expenses and other needs of the child.
A middle-aged woman was in a Broward County hospital recovering from a brain aneurysm. While making her recovery in the hospital room, she grew agitated and began pulling on the tracheostomy tube connected to her neck. The nurse on duty documented that she was pulling at her tubes six different times in 24 hours, and yet did nothing to prevent her from being able to dismantle the tubes.
When the nurse next arrived for a routine check-in, the patient was found on the floor, lifeless, with all tubes, monitors, IVs and clothing removed from her body. This incident caused her to suffer a hypoxic brain injury. She was expected to make a full recovery after the brain aneurysm, but the hypoic brain injury she suffered from this event caused massive damage. Now, she is unable to walk or talk and needs 24-hour nursing care for life. The victim and her husband sued the hospital and received a $15 million settlement.
A $890,000 medical malpractice jury verdict on behalf of a former Major League Baseball star against an ophthalmologist for negligence in the removal of a cataract and implantation of an artificial lens in our client’s left eye. After surgery, our client’s retina detached, something that would not have occurred had the doctor monitored the situation more closely. Further, we showed the jury that the doctor should not have implanted the controversial multifocal intraocular lens, which is now off the market since it was known to create night vision problems. Our client was awarded money for pain, suffering and loss of income as a result of the harm he suffered.