Medical Negligence on the Gulf Coast
Doctors rightly command significant respect in our society. But, like other people, physicians are fallible. If their conduct in treating a patient falls below the appropriate standard of care, they may need to be held accountable for their mistakes. Medical negligence rules and standards differ depending on whether the appropriate jurisdiction for your case is in Florida or Alabama. An adverse outcome does not always mean your doctor can be held liable. It is important to consult an experienced Gulf Coast medical malpractice attorney at Milam & Milam who can work with experts to evaluate whether you have a viable case.
Florida Medical Malpractice Laws
It can be very difficult to successfully sue and recover damages from negligent doctors in Florida. Doctors are allowed to practice medicine without carrying medical malpractice insurance. Moreover, patients suing in Florida must follow a five-step pre-suit procedure involving the following requirements:
- Investigating to ensure there are good reasons to believe a doctor or other medical professional was negligent and caused an injury;
- Collecting and reviewing medical records from the injured patient's medical providers;
- Review of records by a “health care provider” who has the same specialty as the defendant doctor;
- Providing an medical expert opinion that, upon review of the records, attests there are reasonable grounds to pursue a lawsuit; and
- Attaching the expert affidavit to a formal notice of intent to litigate, listing party names and summarizing the claim.
The notice of intent to litigate and affidavit must be filed and served on all prospective defendants. This triggers a 90-day investigative phase before the plaintiff can file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Strict Florida pre-suit requirements are made more challenging by a statute of limitations period that generally lasts two years.
Alabama Medical Malpractice
Bringing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Alabama can be challenging as well. Alabama Code section 6-5-551 requires plaintiffs to include a detailed specification and factual description of each allegedly negligent action, including the date, time, and place. Often this means that multiple experts with practices similar to the prospective defendant’s practice must be consulted before the lawsuit is filed. These experts must review medical records to establish whether there is malpractice and whether the case warrants further investigation and review by other experts. If the plaintiff learns of new acts or omissions that form a basis for a lawsuit, he or she must amend the complaint at least 90 days before trial.
As in Florida, Alabama has a statute of limitations that typically requires a plaintiff to file a medical malpractice lawsuit within two years after the malpractice. One exception is the discovery rule, which applies when a patient did not learn he had a medical malpractice claim within the two-year period. If he or she could not reasonably have discovered the doctor’s negligence within the ordinary two-year statute of limitations, the lawsuit often can be filed within six months from the date of discovery of the malpractice.
Contact a Trustworthy Medical Malpractice Attorney in Alabama or Florida
The strict time limits and significant amount of work that must be completed even before filing a lawsuit make it especially important to consult with an attorney as soon as you become aware that you may have been the victim of a doctor’s error. The medical negligence lawyers at Milam & Milam serve clients in both Alabama and Florida. Our firm is located in Fairhope, Alabama on the eastern shore of Mobile Bay. With 25 years of combined experience, we are committed to employing ethical strategies to seek satisfactory results for our clients. Contact us by calling 251-928-0191 or request a consultation through our online form. We represent individuals across the Gulf Coast, including in Birmingham, Montgomery, and Panama City.