According to National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB):
- Florida had the third-largest amount of medical malpractice reports from 2009-2018: 10,788.
- Florida also had the third-highest total of medical malpractice payments, which totaled $2.488 billion.
One of the largest medical malpractice payouts in US history - $216.7 million - was awarded by a Florida jury in 2006 for a misdiagnosis of stroke symptoms. Although gross negligence cases are common, the amount of malpractice insurance carried by some hospitals is utterly inadequate to pay the actual damages in medical negligence claims.
For example, our law firm recently represented a case involving failure to diagnose kidney disease early:
- Our client was a 22-year-old female who had obvious symptoms of impending kidney failure. For over two years, her regular health care providers had been the doctors at a Miami medical center. Although in the two-year period, our client presented a gradual increase in pain, protein in her urine, an ultrasound that came back as abnormal, and a couple of other symptoms, the doctors at the medical center failed to diagnose her developing kidney problem.
- Undiagnosed and untreated, our client's CKD led to kidney failure that cannot be reversed. All of a sudden, her kidneys failed to filter metabolic wastes from the blood. With kidneys that had stopped working, she needed dialysis to remove the poisons from her blood or a kidney transplant to give her a kidney that could work without dialysis.
- While most hospitals have malpractice insurance policies ranging from $10 million to $100 million, the medical center that treated her has a $250k policy for the entire hospital. What's the good of having a $250k medical malpractice policy if a patient's injuries result in medical bills of $800k? What about recovering the other damages, for example, wage losses?
- While waiting for a kidney transplant, our client is kept alive with dialysis. Our client didn't have to lose her kidneys; her disease would have been largely preventable if it had been discovered and treated in time.
Florida's Medical Malpractice Problem: Hospitals With Insufficient Malpractice Insurance
There is a law in Florida, Florida Statutes section 458.320 that says doctors must carry $100k in malpractice insurance in order to practice medicine. To have hospital staff privileges, to see patients not just in their offices but also in hospitals, doctors must have at the minimum $250k in malpractice insurance.
Most physicians carry limits of $250k-$750k. This limit is considerably lower than the usual physician malpractice insurance limits around the country, which are $1 million - $3 million.
Medical professionals in Florida also have the option of selecting $1 million - $3 million or choosing to "go bare" altogether. About five percent of doctors "go bare," choosing to carry no liability coverage.
Sustaining in front of a jury the case that a doctor has committed malpractice is not easy, but collecting from underinsured or uninsured doctors and hospitals is almost impossible, in our experience. Many doctors are often educated in asset protection and have found legal and creative ways to insulate them from the collection.
Virtually every lawyer who sues doctors in Miami takes cases on a contingency fee basis. That means we will only get paid if and when the case resolves. It also means that we are responsible for fronting the costs of the investigation and trial.
Contact Our Medical Negligence & Medical Malpractice Attorney
When any Miami medical malpractice attorney investigates a potential claim, one of the first questions asked is: Does the doctor or hospital have enough malpractice insurance? We take your malpractice case and make sure we provide the best possible legal service.
An average medical malpractice claim can cost thousands of dollars in time and money just to conduct the investigation. Not to mention tens of thousands of dollars more to take a case all the way to trial. At The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary, before a lawsuit can be filed, we first have to obtain:
- Medical records
- Diagnostic films
- Expert opinions