Some medical providers are protected from medical malpractice cases in Florida. If the healthcare provider is a government employee or a Good Samaritan acting in good faith, for example, you might not be able to file a lawsuit and recover damages.
What If the Healthcare Provider in My Case Is a Government Employee?
Under F.S. §768.28(1), government employees are sometimes immune from litigation in Florida. If they are acting in good faith and within the terms of their job, you might not be able to sue for medical malpractice. However, they lose their immunity if they:
- Act in bad faith;
- Have a malicious purpose; or
- They show a disregard for maintaining your rights and safety.
If your case qualifies for a medical malpractice lawsuit, but it involves a government employee, state law caps the amount of damages you can receive. Your compensation is limited to:
- $200,000 for an incident affecting one person; and
- $300,000 for an incident affecting multiple people.
Sovereign immunity also shields the government from punitive damages.
Our attorneys can examine your case against a government employee and advise you on how much you could recover in damages.
What If the At-Fault Party Was Acting as a Good Samaritan at the Time of the Incident?
If a bystander tried to assist you during a medical emergency, they might be immune to a lawsuit. Whether they are liable for your damages depends on where you were when they rendered care.
Outside of Hospital or Other Medical Facility Setting
Florida’s Good Samaritan Act provides limited protection for people who render aid in an emergency situation. Although the law protects both medical professionals and bystanders, its intent is to encourage those with healthcare experience to offer help in emergency situations without the fear of litigation.
The law protects Good Samaritans if:
- They rendered care or treatment during an emergency;
- They acted in good faith;
- The person receiving the care or treatment did not object; and
- The Good Samaritan acted as a reasonable person would have under the circumstances.
Hospital Setting While Treating Emergency Medical Condition
The Good Samaritan Act also provides enhanced protection for any healthcare provider, including hospitals, providing emergency services under the Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act. This the federal law requires emergency room doctors to screen, treat, and stabilize a patient’s medical condition regardless of the patient’s ability to pay.
Doctors and other healthcare providers are usually immune to a lawsuit while rendering treatment for a patient’s immediate emergency medical condition. Once the patient’s condition has stabilized, this enhanced immunity no longer applies.
However, if a doctor or other healthcare professional showed a reckless disregard for your safety during the emergency, they are liable for their negligence and your damages.
Are There Other Situations Where the At-Fault Party Could Be Immune to Litigation?
There are a few other situations where you cannot hold someone liable for malpractice in Florida. Our attorneys can determine if the at-fault party in your case falls under one of these protected categories.
Members of Medical Review Committees
Members of a medical review committee—such as a hospital, a health maintenance organization, or a professional society of healthcare providers—are generally immune from civil liability. However, if a member of a committee acts intentionally or fraudulently, this immunity does not apply.
Certain Boards, Committees, or Other Entities
Any group commissioned for quality improvement review, evaluation, and planning in a state-licensed healthcare facility is immune from civil liability. However, if their actions, decisions, omissions, or utterances were done in bad faith or with malicious intent, they are not immune from civil action.
Volunteer Healthcare Services to Low-Income Patients
Healthcare providers who contract with a government entity to provide free services to low-income recipients are also immune to litigation. The provider must meet certain statutory requirements to fall under this category.
Limitation on Damages Against Insurers
If your case involves an insurer, a prepaid limited health services organization, a health maintenance organization, or a prepaid health clinic, you could face damage caps.
How Can I Schedule a Free Case Evaluation With a Medical Malpractice Attorney?
The attorneys at Medical Malpractice Help want to help you with your claim. If the at-fault doctor in your case falls under a protected category, we can help you decide what to do next to pursue the compensation you need.
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