A major shakeup in Florida’s medical malpractice laws took place recently when the Florida Supreme Court rejected the medical malpractice same specialty requirement and the Daubert standard to the extent each one is procedural.
HB 7015 was put into law in 2013 which unleashed the Daubert standard: the trial judge in a medical malpractice action must rule on the reliability of expert testimony before it would be permitted to be heard by a jury.
In 2012, a requirement was added by way of an amendment to Section 766.102 which stipulated that expert witnesses in a medical malpractice case be from the exact same specialty as the defendant if their testimony was to be used to judge whether the applicable standard of care was, or was not, met.
Both the Daubert standard and the expert witness requirements were met with heavy pushback from consumers who felt that the new rules would cause legitimate cases from being tried. Arguments were made that the new laws violated the state Constitution by encroaching upon the judicial branch’s powers. In Florida, it is the judicial branch that has the authority to prescribe the procedural rules to be followed in Court whereas the Legislature has authority to prescribe substantive law.
Florida Bar’s Code and Rules of Evidence Committee took the arguments under consideration and made a recommendation to the Florida Supreme Court that the court should reject the Daubert and same specialty standards to the extent that each one is procedural in nature.
The Supreme Court heard arguments and ultimately ruled that it is the Court’s policy to adopt, to the extent they are procedural, the provisions of the Florida Evidence Code as they are enacted and amended by the Legislature but that it has declined to adopt legislative changes to the Evidence Code because of significant concerns about the amendments, including concerns about the constitutionality of an amendment.
In short, the Court was concerned that the Daubert and same specialty amendments could restrict consumer’s right of access to the civil justice system. As a result, the law in Florida will revert back to the previously used Frye standard which allows expert testimony as long as the testimony is generally accepted in the field of medicine to which the defendant practices. If that is the case, it is the jury themselves who weighs the testimony.
Medical malpractice can have devastating effects that last a lifetime. If you have been injured by a physician’s neglect, attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian will work to get you the full compensation to which you are entitled. Call 800-529-6162 today or contact them online for a free case evaluation. They handle cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.
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