Florida Court Discusses the Difference Between a Traditional Negligence Case and a Medical Malpractice Case

Last month, a state appellate court issued a written opinion in a Florida premises liability lawsuit that presented the court with the opportunity to discuss when a negligence case becomes subject to the additional procedural requirements of a medical malpractice case under Florida law. Ultimately, the court determined that the facts as presented in the case fell within the traditional theory of negligence, and it was not subject to the additional requirements of Florida medical malpractice cases.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff was a patient of the defendant doctor. The patient had an appointment with the defendant to remove a catheter. When the defendant doctor entered the examination room, he instructed the plaintiff to climb atop the examination table. The doctor then pulled out a small stepping stool to assist the plaintiff. Once the plaintiff was atop the table, the doctor scooted the stool back under the table.

The doctor removed the catheter without incident. At the completion of the procedure, the defendant instructed the plaintiff to get dressed and go make an appointment with the front desk for a follow-up visit. However, the doctor did not pull the stool back out from underneath the table. The doctor then left the room.

As the plaintiff descended from the table, she assumed that the stool was there and lost her balance. She then fell to the ground and sustained serious injuries as a result. The plaintiff then filed a personal injury case against the doctor, arguing that he was negligent in failing to pull the stool back out for her to get off the table.

The doctor claimed that the plaintiff did not file her complaint within the applicable timeframe for medical malpractice cases, and he asked the court to dismiss the plaintiff’s case. The plaintiff maintained that her case was not one of medical malpractice but was brought under a traditional theory of negligence.

The court agreed with the plaintiff and allowed her case to proceed toward trial or settlement negotiations. The court explained that just because a plaintiff is injured in a hospital doctor’s office does not automatically make that plaintiff’s claim one of medical malpractice. Instead, the court noted, the question is “whether the claim arises out of the rendering of, or the failure to render, medical care or services.”

Here, the court held that the plaintiff’s claim did not involve any scientific or medical issues that required the assistance of an expert witness. Instead, the court determined that the plaintiff’s claim was within a juror’s “common experience.” As a result, the plaintiff’s case was properly viewed under a traditional negligence analysis, and it did not need to comply with the rules for medical malpractice cases.

Have You Been Injured in a South Florida Slip and Fall?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a South Florida slip-and-fall accident that occurred in a doctor’s office or hospital, you may be entitled to monetary compensation. However, it is important that you are prepared for any defense that the defendant may pursue, including a procedural attack on your case. The dedicated South Florida personal injury attorneys at Frankl Kominsky Injury Lawyers have the knowledge and experience you need to feel comfortable throughout the recovery process. Call 561-708-5868 to schedule a free consultation with an attorney today.

See Additional Blog Posts:

Florida Court Refuses to Consider Insurance Company’s Argument Raised for the First Time in a Post-Trial Motion, South Florida Injury Attorneys Blog, November 8, 2017.

Child Injury Accidents, South Florida Injury Attorneys Blog, October 23, 2017.

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