As a Monroe County hospital injury lawyer, I am painfully aware how kind Florida law is to doctors and hospitals that make medical mistakes, even if those errors end up killing patients. There is a burdensome screening and evaluation protocol that has to be complied with before one can even file a law suit. There is a two-year statute of limitations that can catch grieving widows or parent-less children out of any opportunity for compensation for their loss. There is even a Florida Constitutional Amendment designed to dissuade lawyers from suing doctors or hospitals by capping attorney’s fees at ten percent. In many ways, Florida has given doctors and hospitals a license to kill without having to be fully accountable for their negligence.
Without question, the most disgusting law in Florida is §458.320 that allows doctors to practice medicine without malpractice insurance. An increasing number of doctors we sue are practicing without any coverage. Of particular alarm is today’s announcement that the nation’s largest medical malpractice carrier, The Doctor’s Group, is trying to acquire FPIC Insurance Group, which currently insures 18,000 doctors in Florida. Before this deal can go through it has to be approved by state regulators. With Governor Rick Scott in charge, I have little doubt this will pass and The Florida Medical Associations (FMA), Florida’s doctor lobby, must be thrilled.
The net result, I believe, will be a chilling effect on the ability of injured patients to obtain compensation from insured doctors who will not participate or testify in cases against other FPIC or The Doctor’s Group-insured physicians. It will also lower the bargaining power that doctors have now, with fewer insurers on the market, forcing them to go bare when and if premiums become too high.
Sadly, injured patients often do not know or understand this until its is too late. Demonstrating how little the public knows about these procedures, one of my newer clients just contacted me expecting me to resolve his medical negligence claim once the defendant doctor reviewed his photographs. As a Florida patient injury attorney I had to explain how long, expensive and difficult the case was as well as the idea that a bad treatment result does not always indicate the existence of medical negligence. Even if he wins his case, if the doctor does not have medical malpractice insurance, collection is often impossible.
Our Miami medical injury law firm remains committed to holding Florida’s doctors and hospitals responsible for their carelessness.