Do Florida Doctors Require Medical Malpractice Insurance?
Kind of, but not really. There is a law on the books that requires Florida doctors to carry $100,000 to practice medicine and $250,000 if they practice medicine with hospital privileges. However, much like other types of insurance, you may not be required to carry it if you can prove that you have another means of securing a claim against your license. As an example, a Florida doctor can set up a trust to pay out malpractice claims and avoid the cost of premiums. However, the actual enforcement of these laws is limited and they have very little in the way of teeth.
Laws regarding medical malpractice in Florida
The law requires Florida doctors to have money set aside to pay out medical claims, but there is no system by which authorities ensure the doctor has insurance. For instance, if your car insurance lapses, your license can be immediately suspended. But doctors are held to a lower standard than the general public.
Technically, if a doctor does not carry medical malpractice insurance, the patient must be made aware of that fact. However, the doctor only needs to post notice in his office. While you can still sue the doctor for medical malpractice, your winnings would be collected directly from the doctor. Typically, doctors and those who practice medicine in hospitals carry insurance policies as do the hospitals themselves. Private practitioners, and especially those who offer discounted cosmetic surgery, frequently do not carry medical malpractice insurance.
What happens if I’m injured by a doctor with no insurance?
If you can find a lawyer to take your case, the first thing they will do is research the doctor to determine how successful a lawsuit against them would be. Even if the doctor’s malpractice is open and obvious to any potential juror, the act of collecting the damages awarded can be quite frustrating. The doctor could file for bankruptcy, thus potentially discharging the entire debt owed to the plaintiff. Often, doctors will create asset havens that make it particularly difficult to find their assets. These include anonymous out-of-state trusts, chain LLCs, and other types of asset vehicles that may only exist on paper.
In fact, doctors are quite aware of this issue and often attend seminars with names like, “How to Protect Your Assets from Litigators.” The purpose is to make it so difficult to find their assets that most lawyers wouldn’t invest the time or resources unless there was the promise of a substantial payout.
The bottom line
You should never knowingly go to a doctor who does not carry medical malpractice insurance. It’s likely that they either cannot afford the insurance or they are uninsurable because of numerous prior claims against them. If they do injure you, your options for recovery are limited and most plaintiffs walk away with nothing. So avoiding these doctors is the best course of action.
Talk to a Tampa, FL Medical Malpractice Attorney
Palmer | Lopez litigates claims against medical doctors who cause injury to their patients. Call our Tampa medical malpractice attorneys today to set up a free consultation and learn more about how we can help.