Florida Court of Appeals Looks at Medical Malpractice Laws
In 2013 the Florida legislature adopted certain amendments to the Florida’s laws regulating medical malpractice lawsuits. At the time they were passed, the amendments caused a stir in the medical malpractice legal community because of the perceived burden they placed on victims of medical malpractice seeking to recover for their injuries.
The controversial amendments to Florida’s medical malpractice laws were certain informal discovery rules. These new rules, found in Florida Statutes 766.106, authorized hospitals and doctors to contact and interview the victim’s treating healthcare provider. These new amendments were seen by the legislature as a way of expediting medical malpractice claims by increasing the number of settlements. But on the other hand, victims’ rights advocates saw the new laws as an invasion of privacy.
Legal Challenge to the New Laws
These amendments were challenged by a woman who wanted to file a medical malpractice suit, but was concerned that the new amendments violated her constitutional and federal medical privacy rights. The woman challenged the law with four different arguments, each asserting that the new laws violated:
- Florida’s separation of powers doctrine.
- Florida’s prohibition of special legislation.
- Florida’s constitutional guarantee of free access to the courts.
- Her rights to privacy; and
- Federal medical privacy laws (commonly known as HIPAA).
If upheld, the woman’s challenges would have allowed her to go forward with her suit, but without the worry of her treating physicians being interviewed by the hospital’s lawyers and agents. Additionally, a successful challenge would open the way for other victims of medical malpractice to pursue their cases without fear their rights would be challenged.
But the court denied each of the challenges, determining that the new amendments did not violate any of her rights. In its decision, the court went through each argument and explained why they thought the arguments should fail.
Result and Impact of Court’s Decision
The appeals court’s decision to deny each of these arguments dealt a blow to privacy rights advocates and future medical malpractice litigants. While the intent and stated purpose of the law is noble enough, the actual results put a burden on claimants who simply want to recover for the damages caused to them by negligent medical professionals. Additionally, the new laws allow hospitals and doctors to invade the privacy of the claimant before formal discovery has begun in court.
As you can see from this decision, Florida medical malpractice laws are very complex. Because of these new amendments and other provisions found in Florida’s medical malpractice statutes, a medical malpractice lawsuit must be filed by an attorney or law firm with experience in this area of law so that no mistakes are made. In a suit as complex as medical malpractice, even a simple mistake can permanently alter the ability of a victim to recover for her injuries.
At Alan Goldfarb, P.A., we have the experience that your case demands. We represent victims of accidents, injuries, and malpractice on a daily basis. In fact, our practice is focused on seeking just reimbursement for victims’ pain and suffering. Contact us in Miami so we can review your case and provide you with your legal options.