Florida Court Distinguishes Between Ordinary Negligence and Medical Negligence

Recently, an appellate court issued a decision addressing whether a plaintiff’s claim falls under Florida’s negligence statute or the state’s medical malpractice statute. The plaintiff filed a claim against the defendant, a healthcare group, for injuries he suffered while receiving treatment at the facility. According to the record, the hospital admitted the patient for diagnostic imaging. Following the procedure, the plaintiff tried to move from the exam table to a wheelchair. However, the plaintiff fell because the attendant failed to secure the wheelchair brakes properly. The plaintiff claimed that his claim was based on ordinary negligence, not medical malpractice.
However, the court dismissed the complaint at trial, finding that the claim sounded in medical malpractice, and the plaintiff failed to abide by the applicable statute of limitations.

In cases like this, the initial inquiry is based on determining whether the claim stems from ordinary negligence or medical malpractice. According to Florida courts, these types of “gray-area” cases hinge on the specific circumstances of the injury. However, the law limits a court’s inquiry to the allegations within the “four corners” of the plaintiff’s complaint at the preliminary stages. In this case, the court found that the plaintiff alleged sufficient facts to meet the elements of an ordinary negligence claim. As such, they reversed the trial court’s finding, ruling that the dismissal with prejudice was inappropriate.

In Florida, civil claims must be filed within the relevant statute of limitations. Under Florida’s Medical Malpractice Act (Act), claimants must file their claim within the two-year statute of limitations. The short time frame reflects the legislature’s intent to limit frivolous claims and promote settlement. Moreover, the Act has a four-year statute of repose and a seven-year maximum cap. The maximum cap applies to claims involving fraud, intentional misrepresentation, and concealment. An exception exists in cases where the claimant is a minor eight years old or younger. On the other hand, in Florida, claimants must file their ordinary negligence claims within four years of the cause of action.

Like the case above, the pivotal issue in many cases is whether the claim stems from medical practice or ordinary negligence. The fundamental inquiry in these cases is whether the claim stems from the rendering or failure to render medical care by a healthcare provider. Healthcare providers typically include physicians, podiatrists, optometrists, pharmacists, healthcare centers, and medical centers. An attorney can help injury victims determine the appropriate parties in a case and effectuate their remedies.

Have You Suffered Injuries Because of Negligent Medical Provider

If you or someone you love has suffered serious injuries or died because of the negligence of a healthcare provider, contact the attorneys at Friedman Rodman Frank & Estrada. The top-rated Florida medical malpractice and personal injury lawyers at our firm have extensive experience successfully resolving matters for our clients. Our law firm has represented injury victims since 1976, and we are up-to-date on the constantly evolving nature of the personal injury and wrongful death laws. The firm handles Florida accident cases stemming from medical negligence, auto accidents, boat accidents, premises liability, products liability, and more. We have secured significant amounts of compensation for our clients while representing them with integrity and respect. Contact our office at 877-448-8585 to schedule a free initial consultation with an attorney on our legal team.



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