In a recent case, a state appellate court issued an opinion in a Florida personal injury case requiring the court to discuss the state’s medical malpractice pre-suit requirement and whether the plaintiff’s case was required to comply with that requirement. Ultimately, the court determined that the defendant failed to establish, as a matter of law, that the plaintiff’s case sounded in medical malpractice, and thus the plaintiff did not need to comply with the pre-suit requirements.
Florida’s Pre-Suit Notice Requirement
Under Florida Statute section 766.106(2)(a), prospective medical malpractice plaintiffs must provide notice to those whom they plan to name as defendants. This notice must contain certain information, such as a list of all known health care providers seen by the plaintiff in the past two years and copies of the plaintiff’s medical records. In addition, the plaintiff must obtain an expert affidavit indicating that the plaintiff’s claims have merit.
The Facts of the Case
The plaintiff in this case was a resident at the defendant psychiatric facility. During his stay, another resident removed a metal handrail from the wall, beating the plaintiff in the head and face with the rail. The plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against the facility, arguing that it breached its duty to provide security and train staff on how to recognize and handle emergency situations.
The facility moved to dismiss the plaintiff’s claims, arguing that they were medical malpractice claims and that the plaintiff had failed to comply with the necessary pre-suit requirements. The lower court agreed with the facility, granting its motion. The plaintiff appealed.
The Appellate Decision
On appeal, the case was reversed in favor of the plaintiff. The court began by noting that, under Florida law, a medical malpractice case arises when a plaintiff’s claim is based on the “rendering of, or the failure to render, medical care or services.” Courts have wrestled with the distinction between traditional negligence and medical malpractice for years, acknowledging that the law imposes considerable burdens on the latter. Thus, courts have held that, in order for a case to be considered one of medical malpractice, the allegedly negligent act of the defendant must be “directly related to medical care or services, which require the use of professional judgment or skill … as testified to by a qualified medical expert.”
Here, the court determined that the resident’s act of attacking the plaintiff was more of a security issue and not definitively related to the provision of medical care or services. Thus, the plaintiff’s case was not, as a matter of law, one of medical malpractice and did not need to comply with the additional requirements of section 766.106.
Have You Been Injured in a Florida Accident?
If you or a loved one has recently been injured in any type of accident that occurred in a medical setting, the chances are that the named defendants will attempt to label your case as one of medical malpractice. However, many cases, such as Florida slip-and-fall accidents that occur at a doctor’s office, do not involve issues of medical negligence. The dedicated South Florida personal injury attorneys at the law firm of Cecere Santana have extensive experience handling all types of Florida injury claims, and they ensure that their clients’ cases are fairly characterized and are not subject to any unnecessary additional hurdles or requirements. To learn more, call 800-753-5529 to schedule a free consultation today.
See Additional Blog Posts:
Government Begins Probe into Missouri Duck Boat Accident that Killed 17 Passengers, South Florida Injury Attorneys Blog, July 27, 2018.
The Dangers of Drowsy Driving in Florida, South Florida Injury Attorneys Blog, published July 20, 2018.
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