Discovering that a medical provider caused your injury or illness can be devastating. You entrusted your doctor with your life, but you suffered injuries because of medical mistakes or medical negligence.

If you or your loved one suffered harm because of medical malpractice, you deserve to be compensated for your injuries and damages. However, you must prove all legal elements of medical malpractice to hold the doctor or medical facility liable for your damages.

Not every poor outcome is cause for a medical malpractice claim. Likewise, medical negligence will not always guarantee that you will win a medical malpractice claim. If you suspect that a medical provider committed malpractice, seek legal advice from an experienced medical malpractice lawyer.

What is the Difference Between Medical Negligence and Medical Malpractice?

Even though these terms are related, they have different meanings. Understanding the difference can help you understand your legal rights regarding medical malpractice.

Someone guilty of negligence failed to exercise reasonable care. “Reasonable” is measured by what a prudent person would have done in the same or similar circumstances. You can be guilty of negligence without intending to hurt someone.

Medical negligence occurs when a doctor or another healthcare provider makes mistakes or errors. They did not intend to harm a patient, but their conduct resulted in injury to a patient. For example, a surgeon fails to remove a sponge before he sutures the incision. 

Medical malpractice involves intent. The medical provider intentionally acts in a way that violates the acceptable standard of care for a given situation. Examples include medical device errors, chiropractic malpractice, bedsore negligence, nursing home negligence, and prescription drug malpractice

An example of malpractice would be a doctor failing to order a required diagnostic test because the patient does not have insurance to pay for the test. Another example might be a doctor performing surgery on the incorrect body part because they overbooked elective surgeries and were in a hurry. 

How Do You Prove Medical Malpractice?

You must prove certain legal elements to recover compensation for harm caused by medical negligence or medical malpractice. There could be cases in which a doctor is guilty of negligence or malpractice, but the doctor is not held financially liable for his mistakes or wrongdoing. 

For a doctor to be held financially liable for medical negligence or medical malpractice, you must prove each of the following:

  • The doctor owed you a duty of care (a patient-doctor relationship existed)
  • The doctor’s conduct breached the duty of care (the doctor failed to provide care that met or exceeded the acceptable standard of care for the specific situation) 
  • You sustained injury or harm
  • The breach of the duty of care was a direct and proximate cause of your harm or injury
  • You sustained damages because of the negligence or wrongdoing

It can be challenging to prove that the doctor’s conduct breached the duty of care. First, medical experts must review the case to establish the standard of care for the facts and circumstances of your case. The standard of care is based on what another doctor of similar experience and knowledge would have done in the same or similar circumstances.

Furthermore, you must prove that the breach of care was the cause of your injury and that you sustained damages. If you were not harmed or injured because of the breach of duty, you cannot recover compensation for your claim. 

Damages Caused by Medical Malpractice and Medical Negligence

In most cases, when a doctor is negligent or commits malpractice, the patient sustains injuries or harm. Once you establish that the doctor’s actions caused the harm and injury, you can recover compensation for damages.

The types of damages in a medical malpractice case may include:

  • The cost of treating the injury or harm caused by the malpractice
  • Expenses related to personal and long-term care
  • Damages caused by permanent impairments and disabilities
  • Past and future loss of income and benefits, including decreased earning potential
  • Emotional and mental distress and trauma
  • Physical pain and suffering 
  • Decreased quality of life and loss of enjoyment of life

The value of your claim depends on the extent of your injuries and other damages. The first step in recovering compensation is to consult with a medical malpractice lawyer to determine if you have a legal claim against the medical provider. 

There is a time limit for filing medical malpractice claims. The Florida Statute of Limitations for most medical malpractice actions is typically two years from the date of the malpractice or the date that the malpractice is discovered. However, all claims must be filed within four years of the date of the malpractice. 

There are exceptions to the rule, as in the case of a minor. Still, it is best to consult with a medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible to avoid losing your right to file a claim for damages caused by medical malpractice.