Injured during an Emergency Room Visit: What Can You Recover?
Being rushed to an emergency room (ER) due to acute pain or serious injury is a scary experience regardless of the circumstances. If you end up in the ER, you often have little to no say in the medical decisions made for the treatment of your problem, and you are left to hope that the best and correct care is being provided. Being in such a vulnerable position can become even more difficult if you end up worse off than when you came to the hospital, and you are left to explore how to hold the physician and/or hospital staff responsible for what happened. Medical malpractice lawsuits are the legal process used to determine fault and the payment of damages in a case involving injury after medical treatment. There are many technical steps in this process, but one of the more crucial aspects for any person injured by a doctor is finding out how much money they can recover. Florida law has very specific provisions related to the recovery of damages in these cases, and focus of this post will be this law in the context of a malpractice case stemming from a visit to the ER.
Limitations on Doctor Liability
One key component to any medical malpractice case is getting compensation for noneconomic damages. Noneconomic damages refer to nonfinancial injuries, including pain and suffering, physical impairment, mental anguish and the inability to enjoy life as a result of the injury. When it comes to ER physicians, Florida law has a limit on the amount of noneconomic damages a doctor will have to pay. The most a physician will have to pay for this category of damages is $150,000 per injured party and no more than $300,000 if there is more than one injured party in a case. This limit applies to all injuries that occur before the patient is stabilized and able to receive nonemergency medical treatment.
Limitations on Staff Liability
Because the number of staff supporting a doctor depends on the level of care needed and the complexity of the injury, the noneconomic damage caps are much higher for ER staff. Noneconomic damages for injuries caused by support staff are limited to $750,000 per injured party and $1.5 million if there are multiple parties injured in the same case. Again, these damages are only available for injuries sustained during the time a patient is receiving emergency care and is no longer applicable once the patient is stabilized and transferred out of the ER for further nonemergency treatment.
One of the biggest drawbacks to the caps set for the recovery of noneconomic damages from injuries received in an ER occurs when the injured party is a child. In that case, the injured party has never worked, so the family cannot recover for lost wages, and, because it is impossible to know what career the child would choose, there is no way to measure future earnings. Realistically, since most medical injury claims are tied to actions taken the by the doctor and not the support staff, this leaves the family with recovery for medical bills and $150,000, which is tragic if the child died due to improper treatment by a doctor in an emergency situation.
Talk to a Lawyer
Doctors are supposed to help you – not harm you. If you believe you were injured due to a doctor’s negligent care, you need to talk to an lawyer to find out what you options are to hold him/her accountable. The lawyers at the Miami law firm of Pita, Weber & Del Prado have extensive experience representing clients in medical malpractice cases. Contact us to schedule to your free consultation.