Surprise Florida Medical Malpractice Bill To Raise The Burden Of Proof


Medical malpractice lawsuits can take years to go through trial and reach a final judgment. If a lawsuit reaches a settlement it could take less time. Medical malpractice lawsuits can also be very technical and if a procedural mistake is made then the case could be dismissed. Many lawyers will not take a medical malpractice cases unless there is a strong possibility that it will be successful. A new bill in Florida has been introduced that could make medical malpractice lawsuits even more difficult for patients to win.

In Florida the current burden of proof in medical malpractice cases is “greater weight of evidence.” The new medical malpractice bill would raise the burden of proof to “clear and convincing.” This tougher standard is a priority of the Florida Medical Association. This bill would also limit whom the victim can have serve as an “expert witness” and testify against the health care provider. Additionally, the attorney of the physicians / defendants would be able to interview the victim’s subsequent treating providers and the claimant’s attorney would not be given notice of this.

This bill does not only protect doctors. It would also provide hospitals with the same protections insurance companies and HMOs enjoy. It would be made clear that hospitals could not be liable for the actions of contacted health care providers. This would significantly limit their liability and the possible recovery of victims of medical malpractice.

The bill surprised the state’s trial bar when it was scheduled for early morning debate with only 24 hours of notice rather than the normal 48 hours of advanced notice that the bill would be heard. With such short notice, there was not as much public testimony from injured patients as trial attorneys did not have as much time to reach out to them. It was also difficult for injured patients to travel to Tallahassee to share their stories on how such a bill would impact their lives.

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