Medical Malpractice lawsuits can be quite costly. Along with the expense is the possibility of the suspension or revocation of your medical license, damage to your reputation, and the loss of livelihood for you and your family. You worked hard to obtain your medical license. If you are threatened with a medical malpractice lawsuit, you need an attorney who will work just as hard to defend you.
MEDICAL MALPRACTICE IN THE STATE OF FLORIDA
There was for many years a state cap on non-economic damages that could be won through medical malpractice litigation. Recently, the Florida Supreme Court found the cap to be unconstitutional. This has led to a rise in expensive medical malpractice lawsuits.
In the State of Florida, physicians are not required to carry professional liability insurance if you have adequate financial backing and provide your patients with necessary notice. With the rising cost of malpractice insurance premiums and costly lawsuits, many physicians have decided to self-insure and/or opt for pre-paid legal defense coverage. Unfortunately, self-insuring and pre-paid defense plans are not always adequate when faced with a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Whether you have professional liability insurance, are self-insured, or have a pre-paid legal defense plan, you need an experienced defense attorney to help you navigate a medical malpractice lawsuit. Furthermore, you should seek an attorney who can help you set up asset protection as additional insurance should you face malpractice charges.
THE MEDICAL MALPRACTICE COMPLAINT PROCESS
The first step to a medical malpractice case is the filing of a complaint by a patient, family member of a patient, a colleague, and/or your employer. You will be contacted by an investigator from the Florida Department of Health or your respective Board of Medicine to determine if the accusation against you is merited. Initial contact will typically be through a letter but you may also be contacted by phone.
Many physicians make the mistake of speaking with an investigator before contacting an attorney. Anything you say to the investigator may be used against you during the litigation process. For your own protection, secure legal counsel before you speak to an investigator.
If it is determined by the investigator that the complaint has merit, your case will be looked at by a due process panel. This is when you and your lawyer have the opportunity to submit any information that will help your case. During this step of the process, your case may be dismissed. If your case is not dismissed, an administrative complaint will be filed.
WHAT IS AN ADMINISTRATIVE COMPLAINT?
You will be served a copy of the administrative complaint if the complaint is approved by the panel. At this point, the complaint unfortunately becomes part of public record. It is also at this point that the Florida Department of Health may provide you with a proposed settlement agreement (the Board of Medicine has the right to reject any settlement agreement). If you have hired an experienced defense attorney, you and your legal counsel can now look over your options, which include:
- Admission of the allegations and acceptance of the settlement offer
- The choice not to dispute the complaint, waiving your right to a hearing
- A request for an informal hearing before the Board of Medicine
- A request for a formal hearing before the Department of Administrative Hearings (DOAH)
THE FORMAL ADMINISTRATIVE HEARING
An administrative court judge will preside over your case should you choose to contest your charges. A good attorney will litigate your case and help you through the hearing by:
- Obtaining all important documents relevant to your case
- Investigating the complaint
- Preparing motions and pleadings
- Retaining experts relevant to your case
- Interviewing and subpoenaing witnesses
The judge, after hearing your case, will issue an order. The judge’s order will be filed with the Florida Department of Health and the Board of Medicine. The outcome of the order could be a dismissal of your case, an official reprimand, fines or other costs, possible probation, or the suspension or revocation of your medical license.
MEDICAL MALPRACTICE ATTORNEY, JOE KNAPE
If you have been accused of medical malpractice, I can help. I will look at your case and review your letter from the Department of Health to determine what your options are. I will be with you every step of the way, mitigating your circumstances and guiding you through the legal system. If necessary, I will represent you before the Department of Health, your professional Board of Medicine, and/or the Department of Administrative Hearings.
I have experience handling complaints before the Florida Board of Medicine, Florida Board of Dentistry, and the Florida Board of Nursing. If you are a medical professional facing malpractice accusations, dial 850-CALL-JOE today for a free consultation. Let me fight for you.