Before a court hears any Florida medical malpractice case, specific procedural requirements must be met. If a court determines that a plaintiff failed to follow each of the necessary steps, the court will very likely dismiss a plaintiff’s claim. While some plaintiffs may be able to re-file their complaint after a dismissal, many plaintiffs will find that their claims are barred by the statute of limitations, leaving them without any means of recovery. Thus, in a Florida medical malpractice case, it is critically important to ensure that all procedural requirements are strictly followed.
A recent case illustrates the consequences of failing to comply with the pre-suit requirement to provide expert testimony in support of a claim.
The Facts of the Case
According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff had a knee surgery performed at the defendant medical center. After the surgery, the plaintiff experienced shortness of breath. A doctor placed the plaintiff on oxygen, ordered an x-ray, and then sent her home two days later. Two days after her discharge, the plaintiff’s shortness of breath worsened, and she was admitted to a different medical center where she was diagnosed with pneumonia. It was also determined that the plaintiff likely had a stroke after her discharge from the defendant medical center.
The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice case against the defendant medical center. Before trial, the defendant moved for summary judgment, arguing that the plaintiff failed to provide an affidavit from a qualified medical professional as required by state law. The plaintiff responded by giving the name of an expert and a brief summary of the expert’s expected testimony. The lower court denied the defendant’s motion, and the defendant appealed.
On appeal, the court determined that the defendant’s motion for summary judgment should have been granted. The court explained that, in general, a medical malpractice plaintiff must be able to establish that, 1.) the defendant had a duty to conform to a specific standard of conduct, 2.) the defendant failed to conform to that duty, and 3.) the defendant’s breach of that duty resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries.
The court then went on to explain that “[e]xpert testimony is essential in medical malpractice cases,” because medical malpractice cases are unique in that they present issues beyond the common understanding of jurors. Thus, only a medical expert can explain the specific standard of care involved, whether the defendant violated that standard, and if the defendant’s violation resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries. Because the plaintiff failed to provide sworn expert testimony, the court concluded that summary judgment was appropriate.
Have You Been the Victim of Medical Malpractice?
If you or a family member has recently been the victim of what you believe to have been medical malpractice, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for the injuries you’ve sustained. At the Florida medical malpractice law firm of Friedman Rodman & Frank, we represent those who have been the victim of negligent medical care and help them recover compensation for their injuries. We have decades of experience successfully handling a wide range of Florida medical malpractice cases. To learn how we can help you pursue a claim for compensation based on the injuries you have sustained, call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation today.
More Blog Posts:
Court Declines to Impose Duty on Landowner to Trim Trees Near Intersection, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published November 29, 2018.
Court Permits Premises Liability Case to Proceed After Applying the Res Ipsa Loquitor Doctrine, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published November 13, 2018.