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What May Constitute a Florida “Medical Malpractice” Case Can Be Surprising

Florida courts are accustomed to dealing with large amounts of cases, and while many of these cases present actual injured parties deserving of compensation, courts are always on the look-out for frivolous cases. This is true across all aspects of the law, but perhaps nowhere more true than in the context of medical malpractice cases. In fact, the Florida legislature has created specific procedural requirements that apply only to medical malpractice cases in hopes of whittling down the number of cases each year.

StethescopeWhether right or wrong, the reality is that medical malpractice plaintiffs must be extremely cautious about how they proceed with their case. One procedural misstep could result in an otherwise meritorious case getting dismissed. In fact, that is exactly what happened to one family who filed a medical malpractice case against a hospital in Texas.

Christus Health Gulf Coast v. Carswell:  The Facts

The Carswell family lost their loved one while he was in the care of the defendant hospital back in 2004. In the wake of the tragedy, the family filed several wrongful death claims, alleging that facility’s medical negligence and seeking compensation as a result. However, about three years after the initial case was filed, the family added additional claims, alleging that the hospital staff fraudulently obtained consent for a private autopsy.

The case was submitted to a jury, which determined the defendant should not be held liable for the death of the family’s loved one but that the hospital did fraudulently obtain consent for the autopsy. As a result, the jury awarded the family compensation.

The defendants appealed the ruling to the Texas Supreme Court, arguing that the post-mortem fraud claims should have been required to comply with the same two-year statute of limitations as the medical malpractice claims, and since they were not, the judgment should be reversed. The plaintiffs argued in response that the post-mortem claims did not fall under the relevant medical malpractice statute, and a more generous statute of limitations applied.

The court ultimately agreed with the defendants, explaining that under the relevant statute, any claims that are “directly related to health care” are subject to the two-year statute of limitations. In making its decision, the court avoided answering the question of whether a deceased person can still legally be considered a “patient” under the statute, and instead it relied on the fact that the facility’s handling of the body was “directly related to health care.”

Have You Been the Victim of Medical Malpractice?

If you or a loved one has recently been the victim of medical malpractice in South Florida, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, as noted in the above discussion, it is imperative that you meet with a dedicated attorney early on so that he or she can diligently research your case and bring all claims in a timely manner. The skilled South Florida personal injury and medical malpractice attorneys at the Law Offices of Cohn & Smith have decades of collective experience bringing cases against negligent medical providers, and we know how to be successful in our clients’ cases. Call 954-431-8100 today to set up a free consultation with a dedicated medical malpractice attorney.

Related Blog Posts:

State Court Addresses Constitutionality of Evidentiary Restrictions on Seat-Belt Use Evidence, South Florida Injury Attorney Blog, April 25, 2016.

Florida Boating Accidents on the Rise, South Florida Injury Attorney Blog, May 19, 2016.

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