When you or a loved one is in need of medical treatment, you place tremendous personal trust in your doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers. You trust they will provide you the most up to date and appropriate care that is available to treat your specific illness.
You trust that they will not provide substandard care, and certainly not care that makes your condition worse. Unfortunately, every year more Americans die as a result of medical malpractice than die in automobile accidents.
We have been handling medical malpractice claims throughout the country since 1955, and have earned a reputation as one of the most successful law firms in the nation, winning more than $4 billion dollars in jury verdicts and settlements.
Our law office is located in downtown Pensacola, and our thirty-five attorneys live in the community. We have handled more medical malpractice claims in Northwest Florida for injured patients than any other law firm.
What is Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice occurs when a healthcare provider fails to deliver the level of care that is keeping with accepted medical practices and procedures. The error can result from a hospital, physician, nurse, pharmacist, technician or anyone else involved in the chain of providing healthcare.
Common Forms of Medical Malpractice
Failure to Diagnose a Medical Condition or Making an Incorrect Diagnosis
Failure to Make Use of Technology or Order Appropriate Tests
Failure to Properly Monitor Patients Post-Treatment
Failure to Refer the Patient to a Specialist
Misreading Diagnostic Studies, such as CTs & MRIs
Prescribing the Wrong Medication or the Wrong Dosage
What Compensation Does the Law Provide in a Medical Malpractice Case
In a medical malpractice claim, damages include past and future physical pain and suffering; mental pain and suffering; medical expenses; wage loss; and loss of the ability to earn income.
If you were married at the time the malpractice occurred, then your spouse is entitled to loss of consortium damages; which is the loss of services, assistance, aid, and companionship of the injured spouse.
If the malpractice results in death, then a wrongful death claim is filed. The damages in this type of case include medical and funeral expenses; mental pain and suffering for the surviving spouse and minor children; loss of support; and loss of future estate.
If the healthcare provider acted in an intentional or reckless manner, you also might be entitled to recover punitive damages.
Attorney Virginia Buchanan Discusses Medical Malpractice
Our law firm was founded in Pensacola more than 60 years ago, and is considered a national leader in this type of litigation. We have received well over 150 jury verdicts throughout the country in the amount of $1 million or more, and achieved verdicts and settlements in excess of $4 billion. For more information, please visit our About Us section.
What Does It Cost to Hire Us
We provide absolutely free confidential consultations, and if we are fortunate enough for you to hire us, we never will charge you any fees or costs unless you first recover.
The contingency fee we charge ranges from 20% to 40% depending upon how much we recover for you. For a detailed discussion on our fees and costs, click Fees & Costs.
How Long Do I Have to Bring a Medical Malpractice Claim
There is no easy answer to this question because it depends on many factors, such as where the negligence occurred. For example, if a malpractice case occurs in Florida, a two year statute of limitations applies. This means the lawsuit must be filed within two years from the time the patient, family member, or guardian knew or should have known the injury was caused by a medical mistake.
Florida also has a "statute of repose" law. This means you can't sue a healthcare provider more than four years after the medical error occurs unless there is fraud, misrepresentation, or concealment. Florida has one significant exception to this law. It is called "Tony's law".
Under Tony’s law, the four-year period does not cut off a child's claim before the child's 8th birthday. Be careful, though. The two-year limitation period can still cut off the claim if the parents or guardians knew or should have known the injury was caused by a medical error.
Since malpractice rules and limitations often change, you always should consult with a lawyer immediately if you think you or a family member could have possibly been injured by potential negligence.
Sample Types of Medical Malpractice
Healthcare errors occur in many different situations. The following are just a few examples of where we often see problems.
Aspiration pneumonitis (also known as Mendelson's Syndrome) is caused by aspiration (or breathing in) of the regurgitated contents of the stomach and gastric juices into the respiratory tract. This happens during a period of unconsciousness while the gag reflex is suppressed, for example, while under anesthesia for surgery or childbirth. Aspiration pneumonitis is preventable. Careful monitoring during anesthesia, proper airway management, and careful precautions before surgery can minimize or eliminate the risk.
Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers in women, yet one of the most frequently missed. The central fact about breast cancer is that with early and proper diagnosis it's a largely curable disease. This means, quite simply, that failure to diagnose breast cancer in a timely manner and/or misdiagnosing or mistreating breast cancer is often the cause of negative or fatal outcomes.
Cerebral palsy is a broad term used to describe chronic movement or posture disorders. It's most frequently caused by faulty development of, or damage to, the areas of the brain that affect motor functions. Malpractice related to cerebral palsy often involves the improper use of the labor-inducing drug Pitocin; failure to anticipate birth complications when there are maternal health problems; failure to respond appropriately to bleeding or umbilical cord problems; failure to respond to fetal distress; and delay in ordering a cesarean section.
Fetal Anoxic Brain Injury
Anoxic brain injury occurs when the brain is deprived of oxygen intake for any significant amount of time. The cells within the brain require oxygen to function. A lack of oxygen causes the brain cells to die. The most unfortunate thing about anoxic brain injuries to a baby during delivery is that, in almost all instances, the injury could have been prevented. Modern technology allows delivery room personnel (doctors, nurses, midwives, aides, etc.) to carefully monitor the infant's heartbeat, which will immediately alert competent professionals to fetal distress. If the infant is quickly rescued, damage can almost always be avoided.
Gastric Bypass Surgery
Gastric Bypass Surgery is a popular procedure to produce significant weight loss for the morbidly obese. The procedure involves bypassing most of the stomach and the duodenum (beginning of the small intestine) and creating a small stomach pouch that is attached directly to the small intestine. When performed incorrectly, complications can lead to leakage of gastrointestinal fluids from the sutures or staple lines, which can cause infection, abscess, peritonitis, and death.
More than 50 million Americans suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure), and each year approximately 500,000 Americans will suffer a hypertensive crisis that can result in severe damage to the brain, heart, kidneys and other organs. The good news is that a number of rapidly-acting medications are available to quickly and safely lower dangerously elevated blood pressure levels. The bad news is that not all emergency room doctors and nurses are properly trained to recognize the signs.
Meningitis is an infection of the spinal fluid causing inflammation of the tissues (the meninges) that line and surround the brain and spinal cord. It is a disease that appears in two distinct forms: bacterial meningitis and viral meningitis. A doctor's delay or failure to diagnose bacterial meningitis (especially pediatric bacterial meningitis) can have dire consequences. Failure to treat the disease in a timely manner significantly reduces the chances of survival and significantly increases the chances of permanent damage if the patient does survive.
Retinopathy of Prematurity
Retinopathy of Prematurity (ROP) is the second highest cause of blindness in children in America. It affects about 15,000 premature babies each year, with several hundred suffering complete or near-complete blindness. Health care providers (and specifically neonatologists, pediatricians, and ophthalmologists) should screen all babies for possible ROP if they are born sooner than 32 weeks, or weigh less than 3 pounds at birth. If symptoms appear, there are several forms of treatment that are effective if timely started. For more information, click Retinopathy Malpractice.
Streptococcus (Group B Beta Strep)
Streptococcus causes more infections in newborns than any other bacteria, and remains a leading infectious cause of neonatal morbidity and mortality in the U.S. Sadly, many babies with Group B Strep needlessly die or suffer from serious complications that could be prevented if their mothers were given beta strep testing during pregnancy.
Medical Malpractice Legal Resources
Has Your Healthcare Provider Been Disciplined
This site, maintained by the state of Florida, allows you to search your healthcare provider to find any disciplinary actions. To read more, click Florida Department of Health
Has Your Healthcare Provider Paid Other Malpractice Claims
Search this site to determine whether your healthcare provider has paid any malpractice settlements, and if so, how much and in what type of cases. To read more, click Florida Office of Insurance Regulation