Difference Between Medical Malpractice and Personal Injury

Medical negligence and medical errors can result in severe injuries and impairments for patients. If a doctor or other medical provider caused you harm or injury, you could be entitled to compensation for damages under Florida’s medical malpractice laws.

What Is a Medical Malpractice Claim in Florida?

Medical malpractice is a type of personal injury claim. However, it is different from other types of personal injury cases. Medical malpractice claims require you to prove a medical professional did not meet the medical standard of care owed to a patient instead of proving general negligence. 

Personal injury claims arise when someone injures another party. The claims are based on negligence or intentional torts. Negligence is the failure to use a level of care that a person with reasonable prudence would have used given the same or similar circumstances.

Proving a Medical Malpractice Claim in Gainesville, FL

Florida places the burden of proving the legal elements of a medical malpractice claim on the injured party. The patient must prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence to win. This burden of proof requires a jury to believe there is a greater than 50% chance the evidence proves the doctor committed malpractice. 

The legal elements of a medical malpractice claim are:

  • Duty – There must be a doctor-patient relationship to establish a duty of care. Doctors owe their patients a duty of care to provide services that meet or exceed the accepted medical standard of care.
  • Breach of the Standard of Care – The medical provider deviated from the standard of care, resulting in a breach of duty. The standard of care is established by what other providers with similar training and care would have done under the same or similar circumstances.
  • Causation – The medical provider’s conduct was a proximate and direct cause of the patient’s harm or injury. 
  • Damages – The malpractice must have resulted in harm to the patient. If the medical error did not harm the patient, the patient is not entitled to compensation. Harm can include financial, physical, and emotional damages.

Medical malpractice claims require you to hire a medical expert to provide testimony in your case. The medical expert explains the standard of care for your specific situation. Then, the expert explains how your doctor deviated from the standard of care and how the deviation caused your injuries. 

Examples of Medical Malpractice Claims in Florida 

Medical errors and malpractice are the third leading cause of death in the United States. Some studies estimate 250,000 patients are injured by medical malpractice each year. However, other sources cite higher numbers.

Medical malpractice involves numerous types of errors, negligence, and torts. Examples of medical malpractice include:

  • Surgical errors
  • Interpreting lab and diagnostic tests incorrectly
  • Delayed diagnoses, misdiagnoses, and a failure to diagnose
  • Using unsterilized equipment
  • Medication errors
  • Childbirth injuries
  • Anesthesia errors
  • Failure to recognize or pay attention to a patient’s symptoms
  • Not ordering diagnostic tests timely
  • Failing to refer a patient to a specialist
  • Miscommunications
  • Failure to obtain informed consent

On the other hand, personal injury cases often arise from accidents. Examples of personal injury claims include, but are not limited to, automobile, workplace, construction, and slip & fall accidents. They also include animal attacks, premises liability claims, and product liability claims.

What Types of Damages Can You Receive for a Medical Malpractice Claim vs. a Personal Injury Claim?

Injured patients can receive the same types of damages that are available in other personal injury claims. Florida law provides compensatory damages for personal injuries. These damages compensate the victim for their monetary losses, emotional distress, and physical pain and suffering.

Examples of economic damages in a medical malpractice claim include, but are not limited to:

  • Past and future medical bills to treat the injury or condition caused by the malpractice
  • Occupational, physical, and other types of rehabilitative therapies
  • Past and future loss of income, including the loss of wages, benefits, and earning capacity
  • Out-of-pocket expenses, including travel to doctor’s appointments, medication, and medical equipment 
  • In-home nursing care, personal care, and household services
  • Long-term care for permanent disabilities

Individuals injured by medical malpractice also experience pain and suffering because of the harm a doctor caused. They can seek compensation for these damages. Non-economic damages in a medical malpractice claim include:

  • Disfigurement, impairment, scarring, and disability
  • Physical pain and discomfort
  • Mental anguish and emotional distress
  • Diminished quality of life
  • Loss of enjoyment of life

In very limited cases, an injured party can recover punitive damages. These damages “punish” a medical provider for intentional misconduct and gross negligence

What Is the Statute of Limitations in Florida?

What Is the Statute of Limitations in Florida?

A statute of limitations sets deadlines for filing personal injury claims, including medical malpractice cases. The deadlines vary depending on the type of case filed.

Generally, you have two years to file a medical malpractice claim in Florida. However, the statute of limitations can be extended in some cases, such as fraud, injuries to minors, and injuries discovered after the fact.

The statute of limitations in most cases involving strict liability, intentional torts, and non-negligence cases is generally four years after the injury date. However, you should not wait to contact a lawyer, as there are exceptions that can adjust the time frame. 

Florida recently changed its statute of limitations for general negligence personal injury claims. Claims accrued before March 24, 2023, should still have a four-year statute of limitations. However, cases accruing on or after March 24, 2023, now have a two-year time limit instead.

Because the facts of the case and exceptions to the statutes can change the deadline to file a claim, it is best to speak with one of our Gainesville personal injury lawyers as soon as possible. The court can dismiss a case filed after the deadline, even though you have evidence proving your case. 

Does Contributory Fault Apply to Medical Malpractice Cases?

Contributory fault apportions damages based on the victim’s level of fault for causing their injuries. Florida also recently changed its comparative negligence laws to add a 51% bar to recovery.

If a person is partly at fault for the cause of their injuries, their compensation can be reduced by their percentage of fault. Therefore, if you were 10% to blame for causing your injury, your compensation for damages is reduced by ten percent. However, if you were 51% or more to blame, you receive nothing for your damages. 

Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Gainesville Personal Injury Lawyers

You deserve compensation for your injuries and damages, regardless of how you were injured. Contact our law offices at Allen Law Firm or call us at (877) 511-5235 to discuss your case with one of our experienced Gainesville personal injury attorneys. Our lawyers accept cases on a contingency fee basis, so you owe no attorney’s fees until we recover compensation for your claim.