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Florida Court Makes Distinction Between Negligence and Products Liability Claims

new windowProducts liability and negligence are both complex areas of law, which can be difficult to parse through. In fact, it can sometimes be confusing to determine which cause of action is relevant in your case. If you have been hurt and do not know which legal grounds are applicable in your case, you should seek the help of a qualified Miami injury attorney. A recent case decided by Florida’s Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals explained the distinction between the two legal concepts in the context of products liability.

In Holmes Regional Medical Center, Inc. v. Dumigan, a recalled drug known as heparin was used on a male patient who was admitted to the hospital for cardiac bypass surgery. The hospital used the recalled drug on him, causing injury to the patient. The hospital had failed to dispose of the drug from its stock. The patient and his wife sued the hospital on a negligence claim as well as a products liability claim.

Ultimately, the issue for the court of appeals was whether the claim was on medical malpractice grounds or products liability (specifically, because of the faulty medication).

The court ultimately ruled that using the defective medication was a products liability claim and not a medical malpractice claim. This is because using the faulty medication did not involve any medical judgment. The court explained that a reckless act does not equate to an act of medical malpractice simply because it took place in a hospital setting. The negligence occurred prior to the operation when the medication was not properly removed from the hospital. The plaintiff’s claims centered around the administrative error rather than the specific medical care the patient got at the medical facility.

Additionally, if the plaintiffs had wanted to pursue a medical malpractice claim, they would have had to follow the Florida Medical Malpractice Act (FMMA) procedures, which mandate giving the hospital pre-suit notice. The idea behind the law is to encourage settlements of claims that do not have merit. When a plaintiff does not provide pre-suit notice, the defendant is irreparably injured because the entity or individual loses cost-saving opportunities created by the FMMA. These requirements, however, did not apply in the present case because the court determined the case was not rooted in medical malpractice.

It is important to remember that, regardless of whether a claim involves medical malpractice or products liability, the plaintiff is still eligible to seek compensation for his or her injuries. The difference is that pre-suit requirements have to be adhered to in a medical malpractice claim, and a different statute of limitations applies under Florida law for each type of claim.

Robert Dixon is a highly qualified Miami medical malpractice lawyer who understands the nuances and distinctions of this area of law. If you or someone close to you has been hurt in Florida, it is best to seek the advice of an injury attorney who can assess the merits of your case. We proudly represent clients throughout South Florida. You can contact us online or call us today at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) for a free, confidential consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Injuries must be Compensable in Florida Negligence Cases, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, January 23, 2015

Insurance Coverage Issues in Florida Child Drowning Case, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, January 23, 2015

Exclusive Remedy in Workers’ Compensation Cases, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, January 8, 2015