How to Prove Negligence in a Pediatric Malpractice Lawsuit
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), pediatric malpractice lawsuits are one of the common types of medical malpractice claims brought against practicing physicians. One in five pediatricians will be sued for medical malpractice at least once during the course of their career, making it all the more crucial for parents and caregivers to stay actively engaged in pediatric care throughout their children’s lives to make the most informed decisions for their immediate and long-term health.
Intentionally or otherwise, acts of medical malpractice in pediatrics can result in serious and even fatal harm to children’s health and well-being. If your child was harmed by a negligent pediatrician or other act of medical malpractice, it’s crucial to seek legal representation from an experienced medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible to recover the compensation your family rightfully deserves.
Keep reading to learn more about medical malpractice claims brought against pediatricians and pediatric clinics in Florida.
Understanding Pediatric Malpractice Laws in Florida
As parents, we’re conditioned to trust medical professionals to provide the best care for our children. However, pediatric malpractice cases can occur when doctors, nurses or other medical staff fail to meet the expected standards of care, leading to injuries, illnesses, or even death of minors or children.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Pediatric Malpractice in Florida?
Pediatric malpractice in Florida is covered by specific laws. While the state’s statute of limitations permits affected families 2 years to bring a lawsuit against a negligent pediatrician after an incident of medical malpractice. However, some exceptions can apply, including:
- 4-year statute of repose – This allows claimants to file lawsuits within 4 years if the action was not immediately discoverable.
- 7-year cap for instances of fraud or concealment – For cases entailing negligence that involves fraudulent claims, concealment, or intentional misrepresentation on part of healthcare professional(s), claimants may be permitted to have 7 years to bring a lawsuit against the offending doctor.
There may also be exceptions to these rules in certain cases involving minors. In the event that an act of pediatric malpractice occurs prior to the child's 8th birthday, any lawsuits must be filed within the lesser of:
- 8 years from the incident; or
- No later than the child’s 18th birthday.
What Damages Are Recoverable After Pediatric Malpractice?
In any medical malpractice lawsuit, claimants can recover two types of compensatory damages: economic damages and non-economic damages. While economic damages are intended to cover financial (quantifiable) costs stemming from the malpractice, such as hospital bills and medical treatment costs, non-economic damages are meant to reimburse the injured persons for damages that lack clear and quantifiable monetary value.
Keep in mind that Florida has a maximum cap of $500,000 on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases, including lawsuits brought against pediatricians. Common non-economic damages awarded to wronged families in pediatric malpractice lawsuits include:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Reduced quality of life
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Disfigurement or scarring
- Mental anguish and trauma
- Permanent disabilities or impairments
- Loss of companionship or consortium
Unlike economic damages, such as medical expenses or loss of income, non-economic damages are subjective and can vary based on the severity of the injury and how it has affected the plaintiff's quality of life. It’s imperative to consult with a skilled medical malpractice lawyer who can ensure that your case is fortified with as much relevant evidence as possible and guide your legal steps accordingly to recover the maximum compensation that your family is rightfully entitled to.
4 Elements to Prove Negligence in Pediatric Malpractice Claims
When a child suffers from pediatric malpractice, their families often share the immense trauma and pain of such a devastating event. It isn't uncommon for caregivers to feel guilty or even blame themselves for failing to keep their children safe from negligent physicians entrusted with children's care.
As you can imagine, this can lead parents to struggle with future medical decision-making, plaguing them with self-doubt and fear that they will fail to act in their child’s best interests. Fortunately, there are ways that parents and caregivers can prove negligence on part of their child's pediatrician in a medical malpractice lawsuit, empowering Florida families to take the first step toward recovery and healing.
Keep in mind that the burden of proof is on the injured party to establish that medical malpractice occurred, making it all the more critical to consult with a trusted lawyer who can help collect and organize strong evidence to back your claims after an incident of pediatric negligence. In Florida, the following 4 elements are required to prove negligence in a pediatric malpractice case:
- Duty of Care – The plaintiff must show that the defendant (pediatrician or healthcare provider) owed a duty of care to the child.
- Breach of Duty – The plaintiff must prove that the healthcare professional breached the duty of care by failing to provide the expected standard of care.
- Causation – The plaintiff must show that the healthcare professional's breach of duty caused the child's injury.
- Damages – The plaintiff must establish that the child's injury resulted in damages such as medical expenses, loss of income, pain and suffering, or long-term health consequences.
To establish these elements, there are various best practices that caregivers can and should follow to give themselves the best possible chance of obtaining a favorable outcome in court:
- Hire an experienced medical malpractice attorney – Sadly, the mere existence of harm stemming from medical malpractice isn’t enough to be successful in claims entailing pediatric malpractice. Strong representation from a trusted legal advocate is essential to supporting your case with appropriate evidence, analyzing medical records, and proving negligence in court.
- Obtain the child’s medical records and documentation – It’s crucial for families to obtain comprehensive records of children’s medical care when possible, as this can be invaluable evidence in any lawsuit entailing medical malpractice.
- Collaborate with medical experts – Your lawyer can connect you with any medical specialists and other experts who may be able to support your case by sharing standardized pediatric practices and procedures, in addition to testifying about what the healthcare provider should have done under the circumstances.
Florida families can take comfort in knowing that they aren’t alone during this difficult time. Parents and pediatric specialists alike aren’t immune to mistakes—but even so, this doesn’t mean that witnessing your child suffer from preventable harm does not warrant grief, rage, or other powerful emotional responses, nor does it mean that swift legal action should not be taken. In fact, speaking out after instances of medical malpractice can help raise awareness and prevent other victims from suffering the same fate.
Compassionate Advocacy for Victimized Florida Families
Proving negligence in medical malpractice cases can be complicated. It’s imperative to seek representation from a knowledgeable medical malpractice attorney who can guide your family’s steps in court and fight for the compensation you deserve.
At Rash Mueller, we have over 30 years of experience advocating on behalf of wronged families in Weston and beyond. From hospital malpractice to birth injuries, our accomplished lawyers have successfully recovered hundreds of millions of dollars on behalf of our deserving clients. Don’t wait to demand the justice you deserve. Reach out to our office to learn how we can provide the fierce representation you need to recover maximum compensation after medical malpractice.
Was your child injured by medical malpractice? Take legal action now to demand the justice you deserve. Call (954) 914-7116 to schedule a consultation.