One of the joys of parenthood is those months of anticipation and planning as you and your spouse look forward to those years spent raising your new child. Unfortunately, that joy can turn into a nightmare when you’re informed that your baby has a birth defect. Unfortunately, some new mothers are now learning that a medication that was given to them during pregnancy, namely Zofran, may actually be responsible for a range of birth defects. If this has happened to you or a loved one, or if you have recently been prescribed Zofran and are pregnant, it is imperative that you learn more about this medication and the associated side effects as well as your rights in the event that your child has been harmed.
It’s every parent’s nightmare. You take your child to the doctor, only to find out that he or she has some debilitating disease that will impact not just a few weeks or months but the rest of their lives. Unfortunately, for many parents, this is no nightmare but a stark reality.
According to the United States Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 0.004% of children born in the U.S. have cerebral palsy. Although this may not sound significant, it impacts 4 out of every 1000 births and is the single greatest motor disability in children. That is why early diagnosis and therapy is so important. Unfortunately, cerebral palsy is also one of the most misdiagnosed disabilities in young children.
Medical Malpractice Payouts – The Facts
Diederich Healthcare has completed their annual compilation of medical malpractice payouts report to the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB). The National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) is a federal data bank of information about health care providers in the United States, and requires notice of any payout that follows a written demand of payment sent to a medical practitioner.
Diederich Healthcare has designed a five page infographic that visually interprets the data collected from 2001 – 2013, including charts and tables for total payout amounts by dollars, state, biggest changes, per capita amounts, settlements vs. judgments, patient type, and type of allegation.
To view the entire infographic, click here.
Some interesting statistics from the study include:
- Most payouts (96% in 2013) take place from a settlement, as opposed to taking the case to trial.
- There’s very little variation by state from one year to the next, but big variation among states.
- The total number and amount of payouts rose in 2013 for the first time since 2003.
Why do doctors settle?
The report says, “ the high settlement figure is due to sample bias — doctors presumably agree to settle cases where their negligence is more obvious, and fight cases where they are more confident that they did nothing wrong. In part the high settlement figure is part of the moral hazard of insurance – doctors often tire of the emotional drain of a lawsuit, and signal a desire to settle (after all, the payout is insurers’ money and doesn’t come out of the physicians’ own pockets) – and insurers are loathe in many cases to make enemies of doctors, who could sue them for bad faith if a very bad verdict occurs at trial.”
The statistics are followed by some observations by the author. He states, “More work remains to be done here, obviously. There are so many questions to answer: How much under-reporting to the NPDB (whether legal or illegal) goes on? Is there a tradition of reporting in some states (New York?) but not in others? Why is New York so seemingly different from every other state? Do statutes inadvertently skew results? [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][South Carolina, for instance, mandates mediation before any medical malpractice suit – some settlements that take place during that time might not be reported, as no “written demand” has necessarily taken place.] And, of course, per capita payout is not the same as per practitioner payout — some jurisdictions (perhaps DC, MD (Johns Hopkins), etc.) have a much greater concentration of practitioners serving out-of-state residents than do others, and this could skew results.
The data is presented in various ways in order to address concerns with the collected information. For example, a few really big settlements or judgments could skew results, especially for smaller states. While the study certainly provides much needed statistics and information regarding malpractice payouts, more analytical work needs to be done to better interpret the data.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]
Can I Sue a Hospital for Medical Malpractice?
A victim of medical malpractice can be left with heavy financial burdens from medical expenses and an inability to work. Additionally, a medical malpractice victim may be left with emotional pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life that may not have occurred had he or she received proper treatment in the first place. If you received negligent care while at a hospital, you may be left wondering what parties can be held accountable and what damages you may be able to receive.
Typically, a hospital can be held accountable for the negligent actions of its staff. If someone is an employee of a hospital, the hospital is can he held liable for damages if that employee hurts a patient by acting incompetently. In other words, if the employee is not reasonably cautious when treating or dealing with a patient, the hospital is responsible for any resulting injuries to the patient.
Generally, nurses, medical technicians and paramedics are hospital employees. As long as the employee was doing something within the scope of employment when he or she injured the patient, the patient can file a lawsuit against the hospital. For example, if a nurse improperly administers medication and that results in an injury to a patient, then the hospital can be held liable for the nurse’s negligence.
Also, if a hospital employee commits malpractice while under a doctor’s supervision, the patient can sue the doctor, while the hospital may not have any liability. Whether an employee is under the supervision of the doctor when the misdeed occurs depends on whether or not a doctor was present at the time and whether or not the doctor could have prevented the action. For instance, a surgeon may be liable if a nurse incorrectly counts the surgical sponges, resulting in the surgeon leaving one of the sponges in the patient.
However, if a doctor makes a mistake and injures a patient while working in the hospital, the hospital will not be liable for the doctor’s negligence unless the doctor is an employee, which is unlikely in most cases. Whether or not a doctor is a hospital employee depends on the nature of his or her relationship with the hospital. A doctor is more likely to be employed by a hospital if the hospital makes the doctor’s schedule and controls vacation time, or the hospital determines the fees the doctor can charge. Otherwise, doctors are considered independent contractors, which means that the hospital cannot be held responsible for the doctor’s medical malpractice, even if it occurred in the hospital.
However, misdiagnoses can be a common occurrence in an emergency room. If this is the case, then a hospital may be liable for the mistakes made by emergency room staff, which can include doctors in certain circumstances. For more information regarding your rights in emergency room malpractice claims, consult an experienced medical malpractice attorney.
As with any medical malpractice claim, expert witness testimony will be required in order to show that any reasonable medical professional under similar circumstances would not have made the same mistakes. Medical malpractice claims often involve complex medical and legal issues. If you’ve been injured due to the negligence of a medical professional, you need to assistance of an experienced medical malpractice attorney.
Remember that, in Florida, there are limits on how much you can receive for non-economic damages in a medical malpractice lawsuit. In order to get the compensation you deserve, contact a Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice attorney from Wolf & Pravato – 1-954-633-8270.
How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Claim in Fort Lauderdale?
In the state of Florida, personal injury claims carry a statute of limitations of four years. This means that you have no more than four years from the date of or discovery of your injuries in order to file a personal injury claim. In the case of medical malpractice, you have two years from the date of or discovery of your injuries in order to file a claim, however your action cannot take place more than for years after the actual date of the injury.
What is the Discovery Rule?
Sometimes, a person can be injured and not know it. Some injuries may not present themselves for weeks, months or even years, generally due to medical malpractice. In this case, there is a rule that states you can file a personal injury claim in which the statute of limitations begins upon the discovery of your injuries, rather than from the date that the injuries occurred. The discover rule applies to when a person discovers injuries or should have discovered the injuries.
For example, if you underwent surgery and your surgeon made a mistake, but immediately owned up to it, the statute of limitations would begin when your doctor admitted to the mistake. However, imagine that you underwent surgery and the surgeon made a mistake, but didn’t admit to it. After your procedure, you experience daily pain and you tell another doctor, who tells you to come in for a check-up. Your statute of limitations clock will likely start running at the point where the doctor advised you to seek medical attention, whether you heed the advice or not. Finally, imagine that after a surgical procedure where a doctor made a mistake, you experience no side effects and do not know for a year that you were injured until you have another procedure. In this case, the statute of limitations will begin when your injury is discovered during the new procedure.
Do I Need a Personal Injury Attorney?
Navigating the Florida statute of limitations in regards to personal injury claims can be complicated. In order to ensure that your claim is filed on time and that your rights are protected, it is important to get in touch with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident or following the discovery of your injuries. A Fort Lauderdale personal injury attorney from Wolf & Pravato can give invaluable legal advice regarding your injury claim and the amount of time with which you have to seek damages.
For more information about personal injury claims and Florida statutes of limitations, contact the Ft. Lauderdale personal injury lawyers at Wolf & Pravato — 1-954-633-8270.
What Causes Brain Injuries and Who Can Be Held Liable?
What is a Brain Injury?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as many as 1.4 million American suffer a brain injury each year. Brain injuries occur when physical trauma to the head disrupts the normal functioning of the brain. Some common causes of brain injuries include car accidents, slip and fall accidents and assaults. A person does not have to be involved in a major accident to suffer a brain injury, and some brain injuries can be difficult to detect and are often misdiagnosed.
Common Types of Brain Injuries
A concussion is a common type of brain injury and involves the violent shaking of the brain due to a blow or jolt to the head. While concussions are common in contact sports such as football, concussions also may occur as a result of head trauma sustained in car accidents, or in a slip and fall. Concussions can result in permanent brain damage so it is imperative you receive medical attention as soon as possible.
Acquired brain injuries refer to a type of brain damage that is not caused by external physical trauma. Acquired brain injuries are caused when brain cells are deprived of oxygen, such as in a near-drowning incident or exposure to toxic chemicals.
A closed head injury, such as whiplash, is not obvious, but can cause substantial damage. With a closed head injury, there can be little to no noticeable damage to the head.
Common Symptoms of Brain Injuries
Symptoms of brain injuries can present themselves differently in adults and children. Either way, it is important to seek medical attention immediately if you believe you or someone you love has experienced a brain injury.
Symptoms in Adults
- Persistent headache
- Memory loss
- Inability to concentrate
- Blurred vision
- Changes in mood, behavior or cognitive function
Symptoms in Children
- Loss in interest in toys or activities
- Loss of new skills
- Unsteady walking/trouble balancing
- Changes in eating patterns, sleep, play, school performance
Loss of consciousness is a common symptom of a brain injury, but is not an absolute indicator. Even severe brain injuries can occur without loss of consciousness. Additionally, symptoms can appear over time. This means that brain injuries are commonly misdiagnosed. It is important to persistently seek medical attention if you have experienced a blow to the head.
Who Can Be Held Liable for a Brain Injury?
There are myriad causes for a brain injury, including but not limited to:
- Car accidents
- Train accidents
- Airline accidents
- Bus accidents
- Taxi accidents
- Slip and fall
- Defective products (particularly ones that are ingested or contain hazardous chemicals)
- Medical malpractice
A business or property owner, common carrier, medical health professional, manufacturer or any party associated with an accident that resulted in a brain injury may be held liable for damages if negligence can be proven. Compensation may be available to you for your medical expenses, lost wages, etc. If you or someone you love has suffered a brain injury in Boynton Beach, contact the personal injury attorneys at Wolf & Pravato. Call us at 1-954-633-8270 or fill out our online contact form.
How Much is my Personal Injury Case Worth?
Personal injury claims, or wrongful death claims, arise when an injury, or worse, is caused by the fault of another. When a person is injured due to someone else’s negligence, the injured party may have the legal right to seek compensation from the responsible party. Some of the most common types of personal injury claims involve car accidents, slip and falls, animal attacks, product liability and medical malpractice.
The amount of money awarded for personal injury claims varies from case to case. There are many important factors to keep in mind in order to maximize your compensation. You are going to need to prove that the person or company that caused your injuries, or the death of a loved one, was careless, reckless or negligent and that the negligence directly caused the injuries. If you are involved in an auto accident or slip and fall, take photos and write down witness names; collect whatever evidence you can that links the accident to your injuries.
It is important to collect and document all facts pertaining to your injury. You should to see a doctor as soon as possible after you have been injured. Your medical records and receipts from medical bills can all be used to prove the extent of your injuries and how much they have cost you. A doctor will also be able to give proof of any future effects your injuries will have. For medical malpractice claims and wrongful death cases, we will take all steps to immediately secure all necessary medical records to help prove your case.
You can be awarded damages if it is determined that your injuries will impact your ability to work or if they will affect the future enjoyment of your life. In 2007, a Florida man was involved in a car accident with a driver who was using his cell phone at the time of the crash. The man suffered injuries and was no longer able to work and required daily assistance. The court awarded him and his wife $14 million in damages.
While the paperwork provided from your doctor can help to determine what compensatory damages you may receive in order to cover your medical expenses, future needs and lost wages, it is harder to quantify what you should receive for your pain and suffering. This can include emotional distress, loss of enjoyment of life, loss of your ability to care for your children or any impacts on your relationship with your spouse.
In 2006, a Florida roofer was injured in a construction site accident and was awarded $16.4 million in damages and another $156,000 was awarded to his minor daughter due to her loss of parental support. Our legal team employs the top economists and life care planners as expert witnesses to help us maximize your claims and to get you the total amount of money that you deserve.
Another important factor in determining what you can receive for your personal injury claim is time. There is a statute of limitations on personal injury claims; after the time limit runs, you can no longer bring a claim. In the state of Florida, the statute of limitations are as follows:
- Personal Injury – 4 years after the date of the accident
- Car Accident – 4 years after the date of the accident (5 Years for Uninsured Motorist claims)
- Medical Malpractice – 2 years
- Wrongful Death – 2 years
The statute of limitations varies from case to case, so it is important to speak with an experienced professional as soon as possible.
Additionally, nominal and punitive damages can be awarded to victims in personal injury claims. Nominal damages reflect the fact that you have been legally wronged. Punitive damages are meant to punish the negligent party and to serve as a warning to anyone else who intends to act similarly.
For example, in June 2013, a couple was awarded $27 million in an asbestos mesothelioma lawsuit brought against a negligent company; $12 million for pain and suffering, $4 million for loss of consortium, $342,500 for economic damages and $11 million in punitive damages.
For more information, please contact us today – 1-954-633-8270.
Medical Malpractice Statistics You Should Know
In the year 2012, there was $3.6 billion in payouts for medical malpractice. That makes for 12, 142 total payouts, or one every 43 minutes. From 1998 to 2001, total medical malpractice payouts increased by 46 percent, but there has been a steady decline since 2003. In 2012, total payouts were 3.4 percent lower than in 2011. Additionally, the bulk of payments made came from settlements, which accounted for 93 percent of all payouts. Only 5 percent of payouts were made from judgements. The following are some more notable findings from the 2013 Medical Malpractice Payout Analysis, done by Diederich Healthcare.
Five states account for 48 percent of all payouts
• New York: $763,088,250
• Pennsylvania: $316,167,500
• California: $222,926,200
• New Jersey: $206,668,250
• Florida: $203,671,100
Payouts by patient type
• Inpatient: 45 percent
• Outpatient: 41 percent
• Both: 9 percent
43 percent of all payouts were made to male patients
• 16 percent – ages 0-19
• 17 percent – ages 20-39
• 39 percent – ages 40-59
• 23 percent – ages 60-79
• 3 percent – ages 80+
57 percent of all payouts were made to female patients
• 7 percent – ages 0-19
• 27 percent – ages 20-39
• 39 percent – ages 40-59
• 19 percent – ages 60-79
• 4 percent – ages 80+
Severity of alleged injury in medical malpractice claims
• Death: 31 percent
• Significant permanent injury: 19 percent
• Major permanent injury: 18 percent
• Quadriplegic, brain damage, lifelong care: 12 percent
• Minor permanent injury: 8 percent
• Major temporary injury: 7 percent• Major temporary injury: 7 percent
• Minor temporary injury: 3 percent
• Emotional injury only: 1 percent
• Insignificant injury: 0.4 percent
Types of allegations medical malpractice claims
• Related to diagnosis: 33 percent
• Related to surgery: 24 percent
• Related to treatment: 18 percent
• Related to obstetrics: 11 percent
• Related to medication: 4 percent
• Related to monitoring: 3 percent
• Related to anesthesia: 3 percent
• Other: 4 percent
Failure to diagnose accounted for 20 percent of all payouts. Diagnosis related allegations had the largest percentage of payouts: a total of $1,176,345,550.
Also of note, a study by the New England journal of medicine found that most physicians will be sued for malpractice at least once before the age of 65. The incidence of medical malpractice lawsuits increases based on the risk involved with a physician’s speciality. For example, by age 65, 75 percent of “low-risk” specialties, such as pediatrics and family medicine, will be sued. Conversely, in the same time frame, 99 percent of of “high-risk” specialties, such as surgery, will be sued. According to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association, pediatricians and psychiatrists are the least likely to be sued; less than 30 percent have been sued, less than 10 percent sued twice.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of medical malpractice, contact a Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice attorney at Wolf & Pravato. We can help you fight for the justice the law afford you.
Call Wolf & Pravato at 1-954-633-8270 or fill out our online contact form.
Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Cases that Could Warrant Punitive Damages in Florida
Punitive damages in Florida may be available in amedical malpractice lawsuit case only if egregious or intentional negligence is found to be present. These damages serve to punish the defendant rather than compensate the victim, so evidence must be presented that such damages are warranted given the circumstances of the negligence and its impact on the victim.
What warrants punitive damages in Florida?
There are several factors that a court will look at before awarding punitive damages in Florida. First, there must be some other type of damage award given to the victim, since punitive damages cannot be awarded on their own.
In addition, the actions of the medical professional must have been egregious or intentional. The negligence must be beyond the typical scope of a mistake that causes injury.
For example, according to The Las Vegas Review Journal , two pharmaceutical companies were ordered to pay $500 million in punitive damages to a patient and his wife. The patient contracted hepatitis C after undergoing a colonoscopy in which Propofol was used as an anesthetic. Health experts believe that reuse of the vials containing Propofol led to this and other cases of hepatitis C, and the lawsuit alleges that the drug companies sold larger vials than what were needed despite the vials being labeled as single-use, thus encouraging subsequent use.
However, punitive damages in medical malpractice lawsuit cases are uncommon. This is because basic negligence is generally at play and it must be proven that the medical professional purposely intended to cause the injury or was grossly negligent, which can be very difficult.
Contacting Personal Injury Lawyers in Florida
If you believe your injury was caused by malicious intent or gross negligence, you may be entitled to punitive damages. An attorney at Wolf & Pravato in Florida can help with your case and discuss whether punitive damages may be available.
Call us today at (954) 522-5800.
Medical Malpractice Caps on Damages
Medical malpractice caps on damages exist in nearly 30 states. Florida is one of them. Victims can recover the value of their economic damages, but compensatory damages overall are limited in that non-economic damages are capped depending on who is found to have acted negligently.
Florida Malpractice Caps on Damages
Economic damages, such as medical bills and lost wages, are not capped. Therefore, if you have $1 million in medical bills, you may be reimbursed for the full amount without any restrictions. When it comes to non-economic damages, however, you may encounter some restrictions.
Non-economic damages are capped at $500,000 if a practitioner is found to have acted negligently, but the cap is raised to $1 million for cases in which a patient is left in a permanent vegetative state or dies. In emergency situations, though, caps are placed at $150,000.
Meanwhile, caps on non-economic damages are $750,000 if a non-practitioner is found to have acted negligently to cause injury to the patient, or $1.5 million if the patient is left in a permanent vegetative state or dies.
To complicate matters further, there is the case of sovereign immunity. This means that public hospitals cannot be sued because they are considered public entities. Florida has a $200,000 limit for cases involving sovereign immunity, but a claims bill –which must be approved by the state legislature – may allow victims to recover a greater amount. For example, according to a Tampa Bay Times report from March 2012, a child who suffered a severe brain injury during birth at a public hospital 14 years ago was awarded $15 million through a claims bill.
Contacting an Injury Law Firm in Florida
If you were injured because of medical malpractice, your compensation may be limited through damage caps. Wolf & Pravato is an injury firm in South Florida that can handle your claim and help you recover the damages to which you are entitled.
Contact us today at (954) 522-5800 to discuss how malpractice caps on damages may impact your case .