Know your rights concerning Medical Malpractice

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1 Know your rights concerning Medical Malpractice Forward This book explains many of your rights if you are injured by medical malpractice and is not a substitute for good personal legal advice from an attorney with knowledge and experience in the area of medical malpractice law. It is important to keep in mind that laws and procedures change frequently and are subject to differing interpretations. Consequently, it is best to consult with an attorney if you want legal advice. Should you decide to hire a lawyer, remember that the hiring of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely upon advertisements. Before you decide on any lawyer, ask the lawyer to send you free written information about his or her qualifications and experience. Also, remember that this information is based upon Florida law and should not be used outside the State of Florida. A simple guide to a complex issue By Matthew D. Powell and David G. Eaton Trial Attorneys i

2 About The Authors Matthew D. Powell David G. Eaton Matthew D. Powell is a trial lawyer representing people who have been injured by medical negligence. He graduated from the Florida State University College of Law in June of 1987 with honors and became a member of the Florida Bar in October of that same year. Mr. Powell is a member of The Florida Bar, The Missouri Bar, The American Trial Lawyers Association, The Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, The United States Supreme Court, The Federal Eleventh District Court of Appeals and The United States Middle District Court. He is also the author of the book entitled What To Do In Case You Are In An Automobile Accident. David G. Eaton is a Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney and his primary area of practice is representing victims of medical malpractice. He received his B.A. degree from Michigan State University and his J.D. degree from Stetson University. He is author of The Representation Of Kimberly Bergalis, The First Confirmed Transmission Of AIDS From A Health Care Worker To A Patient. Mr. Eaton is a member of the American Bar Association, the America Trial Lawyers Association, the Academy of Florida Trial Lawyers, and the American Arbitration Association. He is co-author of Winning Strategies For Jury Selection In Florida: Communication, Credibility And Common Sense In The Courtroom. Table of Contents Call To Learn Your Rights... 1 It Is Not Easy To Be A Doctor... 1 What To Do If You Suspect Medical Malpractice... 2 What Is Medical Malpractice... 3 Health Care Providers... 3 What Is The Acceptable Standard of Care... 3 It Takes More Than A Breach Of Care - Causation... 4 The Doctor s And The Insurance Company s Excuse... 4 How To Find Out If A Doctor Breached The Standard Of Care... 5 What If The Doctor Made Me Sign A Consent Form... 6 What Should You Do If You Have Been Injured... 7 What You Should Not Do... 8 How Do I Select An Attorney For A Medical Malpractice Case... 9 What Can I Expect My Attorney To Do Getting the Best Experts For Your Case Laws That Delay All Medical Malpractice Claims There Is Only A Two Year Statute Of Limitations Claims On Behalf Of Children Tort Reform Limits On Recovery To Children Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Crisis How Can I Avoid Medical Malpractice Is The Deck Stacked Against Me What Is My Case Worth What If Someone Changes The Medical Records Nursing Home Patients Have Special Rights Some Doctors Don t Carry Medical Malpractice Insurance Help With Other Types Of Accidents For a FREE consultation call (813) COPYRIGHT 1998 by Matthew D. Powell and David G. Eaton All Rights Reserved Call To Learn Your Rights - It Won t Cost You Anything ii iii

3 If you believe that you or a loved one have been the victim of medical malpractice, you can receive a competent legal opinion concerning your rights, your duties, and your responsibilities and it is absolutely free. Take the time to learn your rights before you lose them. Call Matthew Powell and David Eaton. They are experienced medical malpractice attorneys and have helped many people who have been seriously injured by health care providers. You can speak with Mr. Powell and learn about the early years of his career when he represented doctors, hospitals and insurance companies in medical malpractice cases. While he worked for these doctors, hospitals and insurance companies, he learned their methods of denying responsibility and of paying out as little money as possible on claims. Consequently, having learned the law from the perspective of the doctors, hospitals and insurance companies, he decided that he could no longer represent them. You can also speak with David Eaton, a Board Certified Civil Trial lawyer who represents victims of medical malpractice. It Is Not Easy To Be A Doctor Fortunately, most doctors are dedicated, hardworking people who really care about their patients and want to do the very best they can for everyone under their care. They have undergone extensive training and education in the field of medicine and usually have a four year college degree with a concentration in chemistry, biology, anatomy or some other scientific area. If they have achieved academic excellence in their first four years, they can apply for and possibly be accepted by one of the highly competitive medical schools in the United States. Some doctors who cannot get into American medical schools attend medical schools in other countries and then apply for licensing in the United States. Medical school consists of an additional four years of intense training in all areas of medicine and is then followed by three to seven years of residency. Residency is a time period in which these newly graduated doctors work very long hours in a hospital or clinic under the supervision of more experienced doctors. Usually the new doctors are not paid very well and work up to 100 hours a week. Following residency, the doctor may choose to specialize in a particular field and this requires even more time in residency for his or her chosen specialty. Some doctors are Board Certified in specialties that include orthopedic surgery, anesthesiology, radiology, pediatrics, neurological surgery, obstetrics and gynecology, emergency medicine, psychiatry and neurology, pathology, etc. A certain number of these medical doctors achieve even further accolades and become "Fellows". A fellow is a doctor who has demonstrated exceptional skill and knowledge in a particular area of medicine. Consequently, these doctors have been singled out and recognized for their especially outstanding achievement by other highly skilled and experienced doctors in the same specialty. At present, there are twenty-four Boards with numerous subspecialties. Should you wish to know whether or not a doctor is Board Certified, you can contact The American Board of Medical Specialties at: American Board of Medical Specialties 1007 Church Street Suite 404 Evanston, Illinois (847) http//www.certifieddoctor.org Today there are approximately 800,000 practicing medical doctors and approximately 500,000 of these doctors are Board Certified. What To Do If You Suspect That A Friend Or A Family Member Has Been The Victim Of Medical Malpractice If the victim of a medical mistake is interested in pursuing a medical malpractice claim, obtaining an opinion from an attorney is simple and cost nothing. Keep in mind that investigating a medical malpractice claim does not mean that you are actually going to sue somebody. It merely means that you are going to receive a free investigation, and that you will also receive an opinion regarding whether or not there are legitimate grounds for a medical malpractice claim. If there has been a death or serious injury and the family believes that it was caused by medical malpractice, they need to contact a medical malpractice attorney immediately. When necessary, the attorney will take the steps to have an estate opened and a representative appointed in order to represent the survivors of the deceased victim, which usually include a spouse and/or children. What Is Medical Malpractice? In legal terms, medical malpractice occurs when a health care provider deviates from the acceptable standard of care in the treatment of a patient, and 1 2

4 the deviation causes an injury to the patient that the patient would not have suffered except for the deviation." This sounds rather complicated but it is really rather simple when we look at each part of the definition separately. Health Care Providers The first part of the definition requires a "health care provider." A health care provider can be almost anyone who provides medical care. Examples include hospitals, doctors, surgeons, anesthesiologists, nurses, dentists, aides, chiropractors, osteopaths, midwives, psychologists, organ donor companies, blood banks, emergency medical technicians, paramedics and others. The term health care provider is used to cover all of the above, since there are many people who provide health care other than doctors. Most health care providers are protected by Florida s Medical Malpractice Act which requires a complicated and costly investigation of your claim. An attorney can help you decide whether or not you need to comply with Florida s complex presuit statutes. If you fail to comply with the presuit laws, your claim may be barred forever preventing you from making any recovery for your injuries. Deviate The second part of the definition of medical malpractice requires that the health care provider "deviate from the acceptable standard of care. This means that the doctor must have done, or failed to have done something, that other doctors in a similar circumstance would or would not have done. What is the Acceptable Standard of Care? The acceptable standard of care is the level or amount of care that citizens of a community would agree is adequate medical care. This is based on the level of care that other doctors in the same community provide to their patients. For example, if we are determining what the standard of care is for our family doctor, usually a general practitioner, we would look at what other general practitioners in the same area do and use this as a guide for measuring whether or not our doctor provided acceptable care. It is important to remember that the standard of care is different for each type of health care provider. For instance, when we consider a specialist such as a surgeon, the standard of care for him would be much higher in the area of surgery than it would be for a medical doctor who does not specialize in surgery. It is also important to understand that the standard of care definition is designed to be fair. In other words, a nurse is not held to the same standard of care as a medical doctor, and a general practitioner is not expected to provide the same level of care as a specialist. Nor would a small health clinic be held to the same standard of care as a major hospital. However, it is also important to remember that each health care provider is responsible for recognizing when the patient s health problem is beyond their scope of expertise and when it is necessary to refer the patient to a specialist so that an acceptable level of care can be rendered. The bottom line is this: What would a similar reasonable doctor have done? Did the doctor do what other reasonable doctors would have done in the same circumstances? Did the doctor act unreasonably when rendering treatment? An attorney, with the help and guidance of experts, can decide whether or not it is reasonable to believe that the doctor s care fell below the acceptable standard and caused serious injury. Attorneys make these decisions after consulting with medical specialists to determine whether or not the doctor was at fault and caused a serious injury. It Takes More Than A Breach Of Reasonable Care - Causation If a doctor has deviated and fallen below the acceptable standard of care in treating his patient, this does not necessarily mean there are grounds for a medical malpractice claim. In order to have medical malpractice, the third part of the definition requires that there must be an injury caused by the breach of care. For example, if a doctor fails to diagnose a broken finger but it heals without any disability, then his failure to diagnose the break did not cause further injury. If, on the other hand, the broken finger heals incorrectly causing deformity and disability, then the doctor s failure to diagnose the fracture has caused further injury. If the additional injury could have been prevented had the doctor made a proper, timely diagnosis, there is clearly a case for medical malpractice against the doctor. The Doctor s And The Insurance Company s Excuse In the situation described above, the insurance company for the doctor would probably take the position that if there was damage to the finger, it was caused by the original injury and not by the doctor s failure to diagnose and treat the problem in a timely manner. This is a doctor s favorite excuse: My mistake did not cause your injury!" Usually, a health care provider who has injured a patient will claim that he or she did not deviate from the acceptable standard of care. He or she will also claim that any possible deviation did not cause injury to the patient, or if it did cause injury, then it was not his or her fault because someone else in the hospital, such as a nurse or another doctor caused the injury. He or she might even claim that the patient was at fault for the bad 3 4

5 result or that the patient would have suffered from the injury even without the malpractice. Therefore, it is extremely important to remember that if a doctor and/or his insurance company can persuade a jury to believe that any one of their excuses is valid, then the injured victim will lose the case. Consequently, it is extremely important that a victim of medical malpractice be represented by a competent, experienced trial lawyer. How Can I Find Out If A Doctor Deviated Or Breached The Standard Of Care? Generally speaking, if the outcome of medical treatment was drastically different than what was expected, there might be medical malpractice. However, a bad result does not always indicate that there was medical malpractice. One way to find out is to have an experienced medical malpractice trial attorney investigate your claim. An experienced medical malpractice attorney will probably understand your injury or your illness and will be familiar with the kind of procedure the doctor performed or should have performed and what the complications might include. It is also likely that the attorney will be familiar with the doctor or with the hospital s reputation and experience. If, after discussing your claim with you, the attorney believes that you have a valid claim, he can order your medical records and have them examined to determine whether or not your doctor s actions fell below the acceptable standard of care. Fortunately, Matthew Powell and David Eaton can review and discuss your potential medical malpractice claim without any cost or obligation to you, the injured victim, or to the family. If a claim warrants further investigation, they will order all the necessary medical records, X-rays, pathology reports and any other important medical documentation needed in order to fully evaluate your claim. Furthermore, they will have all of this information reviewed by medical experts in order to determine whether the doctor s actions fell below the acceptable standard of care and caused the injuries. What If The Doctor Made Me Sign A Consent Form Before The Procedure? If the doctor warned me in advance of the risks associated with a medical procedure and I gave my consent for the procedure in writing and then I was injured by what I believe was medical malpractice, do I still have a claim? Yes! Just because a doctor tells you about certain risks, or even makes you sign papers that warn you about the risks of a medical procedure, you may still have a valid claim. A blanket disclaimer from your health care provider will not let the doctor off the hook if the treatment fell below the acceptable standard of care and if the negligence was responsible for your injury. There are always risks involved in treatment and that does not give the doctor a license to commit malpractice. In addition, if the treatment by your doctor fell below the acceptable standard of care, you are at a much greater risk of developing bad side effects or of suffering from hazards caused by substandard treatment. As a precautionary rule of thumb, remember that it is vitally important to understand exactly what treatment the doctor is planning to perform and to understand all of the risks involved before signing a medical consent form. Speak to your doctor and don t be afraid to ask as many questions as you might have regarding your treatment. It is also wise to get a second or even a third opinion before agreeing to a procedure or a treatment. How Do I Know Which Doctor Injured Me? Often there are several doctors who treat a patient, each of whom may be a specialist in their own particular area of medicine. Quite frequently the patient does not even know many of the specialists who have treated them. Rarely does a radiologist who has reviewed X-rays or CT scans meet the patient. Likewise, a pathologist who evaluates tissue from a biopsy and renders his or her opinion regarding the condition of the tissue rarely meets the patient. Therefore, it is only by obtaining complete medical records that an attorney can learn the names of the doctors and what specialties the attorney may need to consult with in order to investigate a claim thoroughly. When a case involves multiple specialties, expert opinions must be obtained in each of the important medical specialties so that the claim can be fully investigated. What Should You Do If You Think You Have Been Injured By A Health Care Professional? I. Obtain a second medical opinion: Sometimes one doctor can repair a problem created by another doctor. Unfortunately, it may even be necessary to see several other doctors. It is very important to do so promptly, but you must remember that your chances of finding another doctor to assist you will probably improve if you do not suggest that you are considering bringing a malpractice claim against the original doctor. Generally speaking, the treating doctor will not say that another doctor s treatment may have fallen below the acceptable standard of care. This is understandable since doctors very often work together. However, when our 5 6

6 law firm retains an expert medical witness on your behalf, the expert does not have any of these considerations since he or she usually practices at, or is affiliated with, a major teaching hospital or university which is often located outside the state such as Harvard, Stanford or Johns Hopkins University. II. Call an attorney: Call an attorney as quickly as possible to learn your legal rights, and if you suspect that you or a loved one may have a claim against a doctor, a hospital and/or a medical provider, see an attorney as promptly as possible. By consulting an attorney early, steps can be taken to evaluate your claim quickly. If it appears that a doctor or a health care provider did something wrong that resulted in injury to you or to a loved one and the damages are significant, then an attorney can take the necessary steps to protect your claim. Remember, the sooner you consult an attorney, the sooner they can go to work for you. Therefore, you can speak with Matthew Powell and David Eaton about your potential medical malpractice case. It won t cost you anything, and they will evaluate your case free of charge! III. Preserve the Evidence: It is very important to preserve the evidence. As time goes by, memories begin to fade and items like pill bottles, prescriptions, notes, medical records and X- rays that could have served as helpful evidence, may get moved or even discarded, lost or destroyed. Therefore, it is best to preserve any evidence as soon as possible by documenting the names of people involved, by photographing the injuries, and by carefully preserving anything that might be useful in the future. These steps should be started immediately, and by carefully keeping track of this valuable information, you can improve the chances of making a full recovery. What You Should Not Do You should never comment or volunteer information about your potential claim to hospital risk managers or to insurance claims adjusters. Keep your notes and opinions to yourself and remember that any statements made during times of excitement or during periods of grief or tension regarding serious medical procedures could turn out to be very costly to you. Do not sign any releases and do not give any authorizations for risk managers to speak with your treating physicians. In addition, never return medicine to the doctor or pharmacist even if your medication was improper. This may be the only evidence you have that can prove what you took and/or how much you took, and without this important evidence you may not be able to prove your case. Insurance Adjusters/Risk Managers- Know Who You Are Dealing With Insurance adjusters and hospital risk managers are highly trained experts who are taught how best to deny and/or reduce the payment of medical malpractice claims. They may handle hundreds of these claims each year. These adjusters are thoroughly trained by the insurance companies they represent to save both the doctors and the hospitals as much money as possible. These adjusters have computer networks that handle all of their files. They use private investigators who spy on people making legitimate claims and they also have access to information about you from credit reports. In addition they have records of your medical history, your previous injuries and your past insurance claims. Remember, the adjusters work for the insurance companies and they have thousands of lawyers and doctors at their disposal who work for them and not for you. These insurance companies also have expensive and well funded public relations departments as well as lobbyists in all 50 states working to change the laws to help themselves and take away your rights. Therefore, you need someone on your side with experience, knowledge and a commitment to protect your rights. You need an attorney who will investigate your case and consult with the best possible experts in order to fully understand your case and the full extent of your damages. If you are uncertain about what to say or what not to say to an adjuster or a hospital risk manager regarding your claim, you are probably better off not saying anything at all. To protect your rights it may be wise to speak with an attorney before giving a statement. Once an attorney accepts your case, you will no longer have to talk to a risk manager or to a claims adjuster alone because your attorney will help you with any statements you may need to give. What Happens When The Insurance Adjuster Or Risk Manager Calls? Always remember, beware of recorded statements! You do not have to give a recorded statement, and you should never do so! Should anyone ask you for a recorded statement, you should say "not until I have consulted an attorney first". Do not give a recorded statement or sign any papers without consulting with an attorney experienced in handling medical malpractice cases. It is preferable to have an attorney talk to the hospital or to the doctor to protect your rights. This book gives you many suggestions regarding some of the things you can do 7 8

7 to help your situation. If you cannot do everything this book suggests, don't worry. Just remember, that the more steps you take to document and preserve the evidence of what happened, the better your chances are for making a full recovery. How Do I Select An Attorney For A Medical Malpractice Case? Use This Checklist And Ask The Attorney If They Will Do The Following: 1. If they will provide you with a free, no obligation initial consultation in order to discuss and evaluate your medical malpractice claim, accident or wrongful death case. 2. If they are experienced in navigating Florida s complex medical malpractice presuit laws. 3. If they have tried a complex medical malpractice case from start to finish. 4. If they will meet with you at your home or at the hospital should you be unable to come to their office. 5. If they will assist you, if necessary, in determining which medical professionals can best diagnose and treat your condition. 6. If they will protect your interests and help you should you be required to give a statement to anyone. 7. If they will pay to obtain all of your medical records. 8. If they have health care providers on staff, or who are available at all times, for a consultation. 9 If they will review and explain to you all releases and forms that you may be asked to sign. 10. If they can afford to spend the money necessary to prepare your case and take your case all the way through trial. 11. If they have highly qualified experts they have used in the past to help evaluate your claim. 12. If they have experts that are not only willing to review your case, but who are also willing to appear in court and testify on your behalf against negligent doctors. 13. If they will handle your case on a contingency fee basis, including the costs. 14. If they will advance all of the costs necessary to purse your claim without requiring a deposit from you. Has An Attorney Gone All The Way Through A Medical Malpractice Trial With Success? Selecting a competent attorney is as important as selecting a good doctor. Attorneys, just like medical doctors, tend to concentrate their practice in certain areas. Some lawyers concentrate their practice in areas such as Bankruptcy, Family Law, Criminal Law, etc. In a medical malpractice matter, it is best to find an attorney who focuses his practice on helping victims of medical malpractice. Always look for attorneys who are Board Certified by the Florida Bar in civil trial work as well as attorneys who have handled medical malpractice claims all the way through trial. Remember, a Board Certified attorney is one who has demonstrated proficiency and skill in civil trials. After you find a Board Certified civil trial lawyer, ask the following questions: How many medical malpractice claims has your firm reviewed, how many have been accepted, how many have been successfully concluded, and how many of those were settled out of court rather than going all the way through a jury trial to verdict. If an attorney has never been or has seldom been to trial with a medical malpractice case, you might want to find someone with more medical malpractice trial experience. Keep in mind that there are many competent personal injury attorneys that have never successfully tried a medical malpractice case. When you choose Matthew Powell and David Eaton to represent you, you can rely on their experience in negotiating with hospitals, doctors, and insurance companies. If they accept your case, it will always be on a contingency fee basis. This means that they will not be paid for their services or costs unless a recovery is made for you! Furthermore, if they investigate your claim and decide not to accept the case, there is no charge whatsoever for the cost of the investigation, or their time. Will the Lawyer Advance The Costs Necessary To Prosecute Your Case All The Way Through Trial Sometimes an attorney will ask the client to pay the costs involved in getting their medical records or to pay an expert to review the case. Be cautious if an attorney asks you to pay any costs for investigating your medical malpractice claim. This should serve as a red flag that the attorney probably does not handle many medical malpractice cases. If an attorney cannot or does not want to pay the expenses up front to obtain your medical records or to pay for expert opinions, he will probably be unable to spend the money necessary to prosecute your claim all the way through trial, even if the investigation reveals that a medical malpractice claim should be filed. It is not uncommon for medical malpractice cases to cost anywhere between $50, to $200, These expenses can include obtaining medical records, hiring experts to review the medical records, taking depositions, paying witness fees and travel expenses and creating trial exhibits, just to name a few of the 9 10

8 expenses involved. Many attorneys cannot afford to spend the tens of thousands of dollars required to properly prepare a medical malpractice case for trial. Even when they do have the funds, many cannot afford to pay the costs of more than one or two large cases at a time. Therefore, make sure that the attorney you select has the financial ability to spend the money necessary to properly prepare your case. It is important to keep in mind that the insurance companies have almost unlimited financial resources to defend their doctors. They can attempt to make the attorney for the victim spend huge sums of money which in reality acts as a deterrent and makes it extremely difficult for many victims to find attorneys willing pay the expenses involved in representing victims of medical malpractice. What Can I Expect My Attorney To Do? History & Records The attorney will take a detailed medical history of the injured victim as well as a detailed description of the incident that is believed to have caused the injury and then obtain copies of the medical records from each of the health care providers involved. Occasionally an attorney will ask the client to obtain some of the medical records. This is only done when the client can get the records more quickly, or sometimes to avoid letting the doctor know that his treatment is being investigated by an attorney. Often times, the cost of obtaining medical records can amount to hundreds of dollars and can prevent many people from obtaining their own records. Therefore, it is usually best to have the attorney obtain the records at his or her expense. The Process Of Getting Organized Once the attorney has obtained the medical records and understands the client s medical history, the records must be organized into a medical chronology by a nurse or medical paralegal. Matthew Powell and David Eaton work with nurses to assist in a preliminary review and organization of potential medical malpractice claims. This preliminary investigation by a nurse helps lead us in the right direction in finding the proper medical experts to help us decide whether or not the doctor in question fell below the standard of care in treating our client. Once the medical records have been thoroughly reviewed by the appropriate expert doctors, they will give us an opinion regarding the negligence and causation. Then Matthew Powell and David Eaton will talk with the client and discuss the results of the preliminary investigation and determine whether or not to proceed with the case. It is important to remember that Florida law prohibits an attorney from going forward with a frivolous medical malpractice case. Getting The Best Experts For Your Case It is in the crucial phase of selecting medical experts to evaluate and prove your case that an experienced medical malpractice attorney can be separated from an attorney without medical malpractice experience. Highly experienced medical malpractice attorneys will have a long list of specialized experts with whom they are familiar and/or they have used in the past. In the alternative, some attorneys will use an expert witness service instead. These services are provided by companies who will locate experts for the attorney and charge a fee for doing so. Unfortunately, these services often tend to use opinions from the same people over and over again and although they may be very favorable to the attorney, they may not be reliable or credible enough, particularly when your case must be proven at trial in front of a jury. Matthew Powell and David Eaton are selective in choosing their experts and have compiled hundreds of resumes from experts around the country. The Expert s Opinion After the medical experts have reviewed the medical records, they will give us an opinion regarding two very crucial facts. First, whether or not there was a deviation from the acceptable standard of care, and second, whether or not that breach caused significant injury to our client. Often times they will tell us that although there was a breach of care, that breach did not make a difference in the ultimate outcome to the patient. If our experts tell us that the breach of care did not make a difference in the ultimate outcome, then we will advise the client accordingly and decline to proceed any further with the claim, or in some instances, we will send the records to another expert for a second opinion when we feel this is warranted. The Expert Must Swear Under Oath After the expert has reviewed the medical records and determined that there was a breach in the acceptable standard of care and that the breach did cause injury to our client, we will then ask the expert to sign an affidavit, swearing under oath and under the penalty of perjury, that they have reviewed the patient s medical records and that in their expert opinion, the treatment rendered by the health care provider in question did indeed fall below the acceptable standard of care and that the breach in care did cause injury to the patient. An affidavit of this kind also requires that the expert doctor swear that his or her opinion has never been rejected by a court of law. Once we have the sworn testimony of an expert doctor stating that there was medical malpractice, then you might think that a lawsuit could be filed against the negligent doctor and/or hospital

9 That is not the case, because there are more complicated requirements that must be done before a medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed. Special Laws That Delay All Medical Malpractice Claims Before a medical malpractice suit can be filed, we must comply with the Florida Medical Malpractice Act and do what is called "Pre-Suit" discovery. Originally, Pre-Suit discovery was a process designed to help both the doctors and the victims resolve malpractice claims without having to file a lawsuit. However, what was originally designed by the Legislature to be an expedient way of bringing both of the opposing parties together for negotiation prior to filing a lawsuit, has in reality turned out to be a quagmire of quicksand entailing many more hours of time consuming, complicated paperwork, with technical deadlines and procedures which often turn out to be treacherous for an attorney because there are numerous technical steps that need to be followed precisely. In order to comply with the medical malpractice pre-suit statute, the attorney for the victim must send a Notice of Intent to the negligent doctor before beginning litigation. This Notice of Intent must include an affidavit from the medical expert stating that he or she has found medical malpractice and what is believed to be the wrongdoing as well as the names of any person or persons believed to have been responsible for the injuries. There are also specific requirements concerning exactly how the Notice of Intent must be mailed and what information it must contain. This pre-suit period of discovery also requires that both the attorney and the victim comply with certain procedural steps including the exchange of records and further stating the damages and statements claimed by the victim. In the interim, the victim must wait and suit cannot be filed for a period of at least ninety (90) days. Based upon our years of experience, vary rarely does an insurance company or a doctor make an offer to settle a legitimate claim during this pre-suit process. In most cases the insurance company representing the doctor or the hospital will deny any liability for the incident regardless of how badly the victim is injured or how blatant the medical malpractice might have been. There Is Only A Two Year Statute Of Limitations! Your right to file a claim for medical malpractice is shorter than you may realize and you better believe that the medical community is cheering about that! The statute of limitations for medical malpractice is two years! This statute of limitations is two years shorter than the statute of limitations in an ordinary negligence case such as a car accident or a dog bite. What this actually means is that unless the victim of medical malpractice brings a claim and files suit within a period of two years, they are forever prevented from making any claim or recovery whatsoever for their injuries. Unfortunately, one of the most common mistakes made by victims of medical malpractice is to think that the injury is going to get better and wait too long to seek legal representation. Remember, the statute of limitations is only two years and you can not afford to wait! If you delay, you might prevent yourself from ever receiving compensation for the costs of therapy, for prescriptions, or for whatever medical care you may require in the future. Furthermore, you might also forfeit lost wages or damages for your pain and suffering or any other damages you might be entitled to recover. It is also wise to consult with an attorney as soon as possible since there are some exceptions to the two year statute of limitations. Therefore, feel free to call Matthew Powell and David Eaton at any time for a free, no cost or obligation evaluation of your case! Claims On Behalf Of Children Are The Most Overlooked Medical Malpractice Cases Often, a child thought to have been born with a birth defect is really a victim of medical malpractice. Most people are not aware that cerebral palsy can be caused by negligence on the part of a hospital or doctor. When a child exhibits developmental problems that were not diagnosed prior to birth, it is important to consult with a medical malpractice attorney as quickly as possible in order to have a claim evaluated and to assure that the legal rights of the child are preserved. Just recently, the Florida legislature passed a new law designed to help children preserve their claim. This new law provides a four year exception to the two year limit for filing a medical malpractice case brought by a child before the child reaches eight years of age. Basically, this law is designed to help children who may have suffered injuries from medical malpractice but the injuries do 13 14

10 not become apparent until the child matures. This two year statute of limitations begins the minute the injury or the malpractice is apparent, but this period does not exceed the child s eighth birthday. Are There Any Other Exceptions To The Two Year Statute Of Limitations? Yes, the two year statute of limitations begins when the victim, the victim s parents or the guardian knew or should have known that there was medical malpractice. But in any case, the limitation is no longer than four years from the time of the medical malpractice, unless there is fraud, concealment or intentional misrepresentation of facts which prevent the patient from discovering the malpractice. The limitation period is never more than seven years. For example, in one case a person had a back operation and the surgeon removed a damaged disc between two vertebrae in her spine. Following surgery, the patient continued to have the same pain and problems she had prior to the surgery. However, unbeknownst to the patient, the doctor had removed the wrong disc and failed to tell the patient. Eventually, the patient had an MRI done which showed the discs in her spine. The new doctor discovered that the original doctor removed the wrong disc. In this scenario, the patient did not know and could not have known of the medical malpractice during the two years following the surgery. Therefore, the statute of limitations extended for two years from the time that the MRI results, which clearly showed the doctor had removed the wrong disk, were revealed to the patient. In this instance, the person was able to make a recovery for damages even though the statute of limitations had expired. Fortunately for her, she was made aware of the negligence within the four year time period. A medical malpractice victim can also extend the statute of limitations an additional 90 days by filing a petition and by paying a fee to the proper court. The legislature created this 90 day extension to allow more time if necessary for a malpractice victim to file a suit since the 90 day pre-suit requirement shortens the time in which a plaintiff can file. When Can Suit Be Filed? After the pre-suit discovery has been completed and the health care provider has denied the claim the victim may then file a lawsuit against the health care provider. Once a suit has been filed, the victim of malpractice is now referred to as the "Plaintiff" and the health care provider is referred to as the "Defendant". Tort Reform Limits On Recovery For Certain Brain Injuries To Children The State of Florida created the Florida Birth R e l a t e d Neurological I n j u r y Compensation Association (NICA) in NICA provides limited no fault compensation for birth related neurological injuries which often result in very high costs for both custodial care and for the rehabilitation of a brain injured child. The goal of NICA is to reduce malpractice exposure for doctors and to reduce costs for participating physicians. It is also the intent of NICA to provide quicker compensation for families affected by catastrophic birth related injuries. However, in order for a doctor to participate in the NICA program, he or she must pay $5, per year and give notice of their NICA participation, and this in turn shields them from lawsuits resulting from neurological injuries. Such claims are judged through an administrative agency rather than through a normal jury trial, and unfortunately, compensation for a victim is limited to $100, plus medical and rehabilitation expenses. This is hardly fair compensation for a child who is afflicted with a significant brain injury and faces a lifetime of severe disability. The insurance companies have been successfully lobbying the legislature to place caps on the damages for these medical malpractice victims. Children are now denied a full recovery for their affliction. They are completely denied any recovery for their earning potential over the course of a normal lifetime, and they are also denied any recovery for the pain and suffering which must be endured by both the child and the family. Furthermore and to make matters even worse, the medical and rehabilitation expenses awarded to the victim are usually based on what the State of Florida provides, rather than what the best medical care or rehabilitative services can provide. To make the 15 16

11 situation even worse, under this system it is the taxpayers of Florida who ultimately foot the bill for medical and rehabilitative care over the child s entire lifetime, and many brain injury victims will survive a normal life expectancy of 72 years. It is important to keep in mind that taxpayers are forced to pick up the tab rather than the doctor or the hospital that caused the problem. Is that fair? Unfortunately, the special interest groups representing the insurance companies and the doctors have created a huge tax burden for all of us by limiting the amount of recovery for the people who need it most. The Medical Malpractice Insurance Companies Want You To Believe That There Is A Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Crisis So They Can Make Even More Profits Some people are led to believe that doctors are being sued left and right and that they are in court all the time, and are forced to pay millions of dollars for bogus claims. This is far from the real truth! These untruths have been perpetuated by a billion dollar insurance industry and by the lobbyists who represent the doctors, the hospitals and the insurance companies. On the contrary, a New York Times article that appeared on January 29, 1990, reported on a hospital study which found that very few suits for medical malpractice are actually filed despite the great deal of medical malpractice that takes place. This study, conducted by Harvard University, concluded that each year thousands of hospital deaths and tens of thousands of injuries were directly related to medical malpractice, but relatively few victims ever filed suit. Harvard reported that the negligence of doctors or hospital staff members contributed to approximately 7,000 hospital deaths and 29,000 injuries each year. These statistics were based on the preliminary estimates made by a team of researchers at Harvard University who also concluded that just over 1% of the 30,000 patients studied and who had been treated negligently actually filed suit. Furthermore, there were ten times as many incidents of negligence than there were malpractice claims filed. This study was conducted by physicians who were professors at Harvard Medical School as well as by attorneys at the Harvard Law School and the Harvard School of Public Health. They supervised a review of records from 31,950 randomly selected patients treated at 51 hospitals throughout the state of New York. Out of the total number of cases studied in these New York hospitals, the doctors found that adverse events occurred in 1,278 cases or 4.74%. The researchers also found that 306 negligent adverse events occurred, and that out of these 306 patients, only 8 of the 306 victims ever filed suit. Therefore, based on these samples, they concluded that there were approximately 36,000 cases of negligence and 7,000 deaths related in some way to medical negligence. Furthermore, of the 30,000+ cases reviewed only 47 of the patients filed malpractice claims; interestingly, the study also revealed that many of those cases that were filed, were cases in which the researchers had found no evidence of any negligence. Another reason that doctors win many of the malpractice suits brought against them is the fact that many suits filed are really not valid medical malpractice claims and should never have been brought against the doctor in the first place. Unfortunately, these cases are filed by attorneys who lacked adequate experience and did not realize that there was no real negligence on the part of the doctor or the hospital. This is clearly validated by the fact that the Harvard study found that in the 31 cases that were actually filed alleging medical malpractice, no evidence of any negligence was found. Which Kinds of Medical Malpractice Cases Do Not Settle And Go All The Way To Trial? Generally speaking, the three biggest reasons for a medical malpractice case to go to trial are the following: 1. The victim has a very poor case which most likely cannot be won since there is no valid evidence of medical malpractice or causation of injury. In spite of this fact, however, an inexperienced attorney brings the case to trial, and loses. 2. The doctor being sued is clearly negligent, but he has no medical malpractice insurance to pay for the damages that he caused. 3. The damages are so enormous that the doctor s malpractice insurance is inadequate to pay a reasonable settlement and the doctor or the hospital is unwilling to pay for any damages above the limit of their insurance policy coverage. The bottom line is this! The majority of medical doctors are good people and they do their best to practice good medicine. However, they too understand that from time to time they can have a bad day; consequently, most of them carry medical malpractice insurance. It can be compared to a car owner who may be a careful driver most of the time, but still carries automobile insurance. How Can I Avoid Medical Malpractice? There are several things that an informed patient can do in order to avoid becoming a victim of medical malpractice. 1. It is always advisable to get a second medical opinion before undergoing a procedure. This can help to eliminate costly mistakes or a misdiagnosis. The general rule to follow is that two doctor s opinions are better than one. 2. Try to avoid Health Maintenance Organizations (HMOs) 17 18

12 whenever possible. If you do have a choice and you can avoid an HMO, you will have the option of selecting your own doctors. You will be able to see a specialist anytime you so desire without the necessity of getting a referral to do so. Unfortunately with managed health care, there is a significant loss of choice and freedom in selecting a doctor or doctors to treat your condition. Therefore, by avoiding an HMO, you can avoid doctors that make you feel uncomfortable and/or you do not like. 3. You can get in touch with the Agency for Health Care Administration and check the basic background of any doctor you so desire by contacting: Agency for Health Care Administration Consumer Services Unit 1580 Waldo Palmer Lane Tallahassee, Florida (888) By contacting this agency you are able to learn whether a doctor has been sued or has paid a claim for medical malpractice and whether or not they have ever been disciplined by the Agency for poor performance in the past. Keep in mind, that there is one drawback to contacting this agency for information. The agency is back logged with investigations, and there exists the possibility that the pending investigations against a doctor may not have been reported yet. 4. Try to use only Board Certified doctors in their particular area of specialization. Remember, by using Board Certified doctors, you are being treated by doctors who have taken the extra steps necessary to improve their medical skills, their knowledge and their ability. 5. Do not allow any doctor to perform a procedure on you which is outside his or her specialty. For example, it is not advisable to allow a dermatologist to perform breast implant surgery on you. Stay with Board Certified doctors who are usually more experienced and specialized in that type of procedure. 6. Always remember that one of the most important questions you should ask yourself is whether or not the doctor has medical malpractice insurance to pay a claim. In the state of Florida, it is not mandatory for a medical doctor to have medical malpractice insurance. Therefore, you need to make sure before you receive treatment that your doctor has this insurance. Also keep in mind that although the doctor does have this insurance, this does not necessarily protect you against medical malpractice. Nevertheless, malpractice insurance will protect you to some degree and ensure that you can recover at least some of your damages should it ever be necessary to make a claim. Finding Out About A Doctor s Past Mistakes If you would like more information concerning medical malpractice claims against a Florida physician, you can contact the Florida Department of Insurance. The department keeps a record of all doctors who have paid out monies on medical malpractice claims brought against them, and it can be reached at: Florida Department of Insurance Document Processing Office 200 East Gaines Street Tallahassee, Florida (800) On the web they can be found at: Is The Deck Stacked Against Me? Yes! The insurance companies have billions of dollars at their disposal. They can spend large sums of money to defend a case even though it is clear to us that the malpractice victim has a legitimate injury caused by negligence on the part of their defendant. Insurance companies also have tremendous marketing budgets which mislead the public into believing that there is a medical malpractice lawsuit crisis and that victims of malpractice and their attorneys are undeserving of compensation. They try to persuade the public into believing that the victim and the attorney are the ones responsible for rising medical costs and high insurance premiums. Unfortunately, they have done a good job of convincing the public of that! Of course, all of this is untrue! The insurance companies have claimed that some jury verdicts are excessive. For example, almost everyone has heard about the 79 year old woman in Albuquerque, New Mexico who was awarded millions of dollars after winning a lawsuit against McDonalds for burns she suffered when she spilled hot coffee on herself. What the insurance industry really does not want the public to know are the following facts: 1. The woman involved was sitting in the passenger seat of her car and was not driving at the time of the accident. 2. When she removed the lid from the container of scalding hot coffee, it spilled on her lap causing second and third degree burns to her buttocks, her thighs and her genitals. 3. She spent eight days in the hospital for surgical skin grafting 19 20

13 procedures and afterward, spent the next three weeks recuperating at her daughter s home. 4. At first, she wrote to McDonalds on her own without the help of an attorney and asked them to please lower the temperature of their coffee. She also asked them if they would please pay her $2, out of pocket medical expenses and also to pay for her daughter s lost wages since her daughter had to stay home from work and take care of her while she was recovering. 5. After making these reasonable requests, McDonalds offered her the paltry sum of $ Finally, when McDonalds refused to pay her out of pocket expenses, she finally hired a lawyer who brought the case to trial. 6. At trial, the medical experts explained that coffee served at 170 degrees would cause serious burns within 3 ½ seconds. 7. McDonalds supervisors testified that they did not lower the temperature of their coffee even after they had received more than 700 burn complaints from other customers. 8. McDonalds stated that they keep their coffee between 180 to 190 degrees Fahrenheit in order to maintain optimum taste while most other restaurants serve their coffee at about 135 degrees. 9. The jury awarded the woman $200, to compensate her for the damages she suffered, and then reduced her judgement twenty percent since they believed she was partially at fault, thereby reducing the award to $160, Next, the jury sent a strong message to McDonalds by awarding her $2,700, in punitive damages. In reality, this award represented approximately two days of coffee sales for McDonalds. 10. Next, the judge reduced the punitive damages to $480,000.00, which was three times her actual damages awarded by the jury. The judge also commented that the punitive damages were not out of line when he said the case was not a run-away. I was there. The jury s decision did, however, send a clear message to McDonalds that they needed to consider the safety of their customers first, not just their profit margins. The bottom line is this: The verdict was substantially reduced and McDonalds never really had to pay the amount that the jury had originally determined was fair. Fortunately, when you have experienced, medical malpractice attorneys on your side, the scales of justice are balanced more equitably in your favor, and you can feel more secure knowing that your attorney is skilled in avoiding the many pitfalls common in most medical malpractice cases. Furthermore, an experienced, medical malpractice attorney is more skilled in selecting members of the jury who will be fair and unlikely to be influenced by the crisis propaganda perpetrated by the insurance industry. What Is My Case Worth? No two cases are exactly alike and each case has both its strong points as well as its weak points, and every person has his or her own unique, individual damages. These damages can be separated into two basic categories. The first category is economic damages, and the second one is non-economic damages. Economic damages include past medical expenses, future medical expenses, both past and future loss of wages and the ability to earn an income in the future. Depending on the kind and the severity of the damages caused by the malpractice, future medical care can be extremely expensive. For example, a newborn child suffering a brain injury and/or paralysis from the lack of oxygen during delivery may have future medical needs of well over $10,000, Although this may sound high at first, the victim will need special care his or her entire life for even the simplest of daily tasks including eating, dressing and bathing. They will also require special equipment in the home, specialized ongoing medical care, and special transportation assistance. Unfortunately, specialized equipment eventually needs replacing due to normal wear and tear, and it must be remembered that medical costs keep going up all the time. In addition, 24 hour nursing care may be required over the victim s entire lifetime and this kind of care can sometimes cost more than $ per day. Consequently, the overall cost for specialized care over a seventy-two year life span can be as high as $26,000, To make matters even worse, the cost of medical care and the cost of special rehabilitation programs to assist the victim are very expensive. In these kinds of cases, Matthew Powell and David Eaton retain vocational rehabilitation experts as well as economists to actually calculate the future costs associated with both the medical and the economic needs of their clients. The second category of damages are non-economic damages and they include pain and suffering, inconvenience and the loss of enjoyment of life. Fortunately, it is the jury rather than the insurance company that determines what is fair compensation for pain and suffering. In order to prove non-economic damages, it is important for the jury to see and to understand a day from the victims perspective. Little things we take for granted each day such as getting dressed, eating and bathing are insurmountable tasks for some of our clients. In trial, Matthew Powell and David Eaton use what is called A day in the life video. This is a video tape that helps the jury understand what a day in the life of a catastrophically injured victim is all about. We employ a video photographer to record our client s daily activities which demonstrate the special needs caused by the injuries and the jury is also able to see firsthand, the emotional pain and loss that a family 21 22

14 suffers when the injury or loss is significant. By effectively communicating these damages the jury is better able to see the consequences of the malpractice and begin to understand the enormity of the damages, and therefore, they are better able to put a monetary value on these non-economic damages. What If Someone Changes The Medical Records To Hide A Mistake? This does not happen very often since it is a crime for any person to knowingly alter, deface or falsify any medical record. It is considered fraud, and Florida Statute makes it a second degree misdemeanor. If convicted, a health care provider can be suspended and even lose their license to practice medicine. In rare instances when a healthcare provider is seriously suspected of falsifying or defacing medical records, Matthew Powell or David Eaton will hire the appropriate expert document examiners. A document examiner is an expert in exposing forgeries, additions, deletions and/or changes in documents. They can expose fraud by examining the original records and can determine whether or not the same pen was used or whether an entry appears to have been added to the records at a later time. In many instances, they can even determine what year the pen was manufactured. Occasionally someone will use a pen that was made in 1998 when trying to change a record that was originally written in Since that particular ink pen was not available in 1995, an expert can tell that there was a fraudulent entry made in the records. When defendants are notified about the ink analysis test performed by our expert, they usually recant their story and admit that the medical record was tampered with and that the entries were written at a much later date. On occasions, we discover altered medical records through the help of our clients, who obtained copies of their medical records close to the time they were treated by the doctor and when we request the medical records from the doctor many months later, we occasionally find through comparison with the clients copies that major changes have been made in the medical records. Our Careful Screening Of Potential Claims Every year we get hundreds of calls from patients that want to sue their doctor. However, because of the enormous expense involved in representing a victim of medical malpractice, we are highly selective in choosing cases. We only accept about five to ten percent of all the claims that we evaluate. Many of the potential clients that call us want to sue their doctor because their doctor will not communicate with them or return their phone calls, or the potential client may even feel that the doctor is not treating them fairly, etc. However, since medical malpractice cases are so very difficult and expensive to pursue, we can only accept those cases that involve clear liability and severe damages. When and if the facts of a potential case have passed our preliminary review and it appears that the results of medical malpractice have caused severe injury, then we will have the records reviewed by an expert. This can cost anywhere upwards of $1, to $10, or more depending on the complexity of the case. The costs that we advance on behalf of our clients will only be reimbursed to us if the case is ultimately won. We consider this a normal cost of doing business, and we gladly conduct these early investigations since they enable us to evaluate the claim before spending many additional thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours deciding whether or not to bring a claim. Furthermore, lawsuits can be very emotionally draining on our clients, and we do not want to subject them to the emotional roller-coaster of litigation without first conducting a thorough review and investigation of their case in order to determine if there is a viable claim. Nursing Home Patients Have Special Rights Fortunately, the Florida Legislature has recognized the special needs and the vulnerability of patients in nursing homes. Therefore, they have passed Florida Statute entitled Resident Rights. These rights, which include civil and religious liberties, guarantee a patient s right to private and uncensored communication, the right to unopened mail, the right to telephone privileges and the right to open visitation. A resident also has a right to manage his or her own financial affairs, the right to be fully informed of any costs or charges, the right to be informed regarding his or her medication, the right to participate in the decisions and the planning of all medical treatment, the right to receive adequate and appropriate support services, and the right to privacy. Nursing home residents also have the right to be treated courteously, fairly and with the fullest measure of dignity, the right to be free from mental and physical abuse, the right to be free from corporal punishment, the right to be free from extended involuntary seclusion, and the right to be free from physical and chemical restraints. These are only a few of the many rights created by law to protect patients in nursing homes

15 Furthermore, the legislature has said that courts are to give attorney fees to a nursing home patient who brings a successful action against a negligent nursing home. In addition to the rights listed above, the legislature has also granted other special patients rights as they relate to residents of nursing homes. Consequently, a nursing home case does not require the presuit screening normally required for a medical malpractice action, and the statute of limitations for nursing home abuse is four years rather than the two year period for regular malpractice actions. Therefore, if a nursing home resident, or a loved one, believes that a resident has been the victim of poor or negligent care, please feel free to call our office immediately and find out if you have a valid claim. Remember, the sooner you act the easier it is to preserve evidence and to obtain witness statements. It is also important to be aware of the warning signs or the red flags which can indicate nursing home abuse. These can include: Bed sores Over-medication Use of restraints Poor hygiene of patients Understaffed nursing home Poor maintenance of the premises Broken bones caused by falls from beds or wheelchairs Delays in providing patient medication or dispensing the wrong medication No response or a substandard response to a legitimate complaint or problem Patients being fed improper foods in direct conflict with the doctors recommended diet Missing or delayed meals due to the lack of attention by nursing home staff Some Doctors Don t Carry Malpractice Insurance Florida law does not require physicians to carry medical malpractice insurance, and certain physicians may be exempt because they are not actively practicing in Florida, or because the nature of their practice does not require malpractice insurance, or because they have notified all of their patients that they do not carry malpractice insurance. According to Florida law, physicians who do not carry medical malpractice insurance must notify their patients and affirm the following: "Under Florida law, physicians are generally required to carry medical malpractice insurance or otherwise demonstrate financial responsibility to cover potential claims for medical malpractice. YOUR DOCTOR HAS DECIDED NOT TO CARRY MEDICAL MALPRACTICE INSURANCE. This is permitted under Florida law subject to certain conditions. Florida law imposes penalties against noninsured physicians who fail to satisfy adverse judgments arising from claims of medical malpractice. This notice is provided pursuant to Florida law." In order to verify whether or not a physician is self insured or uninsured you can contact: Florida Department of Insurance 200 East Gaines Street Tallahassee, Florida (800) Good News For Doctors Under Florida law, if a person causes an injury, they are also legally responsible for any malpractice that occurs in the treatment of that injury. For example, if someone has a terrible injury from an automobile crash caused by a negligent driver, then the bad driver is not allowed to argue that the car crash victim s injuries came from medical malpractice that occurred following the crash. If the law was otherwise, every defendant (in a car crash etc.) would claim medical malpractice in order to avoid full responsibility for the victim's injuries. This in turn, would create numerous medical malpractice lawsuits brought by car insurance companies against the doctors that have treated car crash victims. Help With Other Types Of Accidents And Injuries While the information contained in this book focuses on Medical Malpractice, if you have any questions regarding your rights after you or a friend have been injured in a car crash, a slip and fall accident, injured by a defective product, a dog bite, a bicycle accident or if you or someone you know has been the victim of a violent crime or a rape at an apartment complex or a shopping center, the information in this book can still be helpful in protecting your rights and in protecting you from the mishandling of your claim! Always remember, by being prepared and documenting the important events, facts, witnesses and evidence, you are greatly improving your chances 25 26

16 of making a full recovery. You can also call our office to receive a copy of our book "What To Do In Case You Are In An Automobile Accident, and we will be glad to send you a copy for free. EATON & POWELL A Professional Association How To Contact Matthew Powell and David Eaton Our office is located in the Historic Hutchinson House in Tampa at: 304 Plant Avenue Tampa, Florida Internet at: We will be glad to speak with you about your medical malpractice claim or any personal injury claim. Remember, a consultation and an investigation of your potential claim is absolutely free and confidential, and if we do accept your case, it will be on a contingency fee basis. This means that you will pay no fee or costs unless we recover money damages for you! Conclusion This book is designed to give you as much general information as possible. Every medical malpractice injury and every other kind of injury situation is unique, and this book can not possibly contain all of the information you need to evaluate your particular situation. Consequently, it is very important for you to speak directly with an attorney experienced in representing medical malpractice victims. Therefore, feel free to call Matthew Powell and David Eaton and we will gladly discuss your case and help you find answers to some of your important questions. Remember, there is no charge to talk with Matthew Powell and David Eaton, so call them right now. FREE INFORMATION 24 Hour Recorded Messages Call (800) , then enter the 4 Digit Code to hear the message. MEDICAL MALPRACTICE 9105 What is Medical Malpractice? 9105 What if I have been injured by a health care provider? 9105 Hospital negligence 9105 Physician negligence 9109 Birth defects from lack of oxygen 9109 Cerebral Palsy 9110 Misdiagnosis 9105 Pharmacy negligence 9110 How much time do I have to bring a claim? 9100 What kind of experience should my attorney have? NURSING HOME ABUSE 9106 What are nursing home residents rights? 9108 Bed sores and nursing home neglect AUTOMOBILE ACCIDENTS 9103 What to do after a car accident? 9104 Preserving the evidence 9114 Should I say no to recorded statements? 9115 Should I sign a release? 9116 What if the other driver was intoxicated? 9118 What types of insurance are best? 9111 Can I get my lost wages paid now? 9112 Can I get my medical bills paid now? OTHER TYPES OF ACCIDENTS 9107 Motorcycle accidents 9122 Bicycle accidents 9121 What to do after a dog bite? 9108 What is products liability? FREE CONSULTATION (813) (800) Plant Avenue Tampa, Florida Near Tampa General Hospital 27

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