The laws surrounding medical malpractice in the state of Florida have procedural requirements and legal complexities that are unique to this cause of action alone. While a medical malpractice claim is remarkably similar to your typical negligence cause of action, there are various differences that are largely misunderstood if not completely unknown to the majority of individuals that have been injured as a result of a doctor’s negligence. If you think that you may have a claim for medical malpractice and you are seeking compensation for your related personal injuries, your first step should be to seek assistance from a knowledgeable personal injury attorney.
The unique complexities and burdensome pre-suit requirements involved in a medical malpractice action will absolutely require legal guidance. The last thing that you would want is to find yourself unable to receive the compensation that you deserve on trivial procedural grounds such as waiting too long to file your action, or because you were unaware that a medical malpractice action has multiple pre-suit requirements by which you must abide. If you find yourself in the Tampa, Florida area and believe that you are a victim of medical negligence, contact one of the reputable medical malpractice attorneys from Burnetti, PA.
Unlike most other personal injury actions, in the state of Florida, you cannot just go and file a complaint in civil court for a medical malpractice cause of action. There are a few procedural hoops that you must jump through first. Namely, you are required to take the following steps before you can file your medical malpractice lawsuit:
Serve your Doctor with a Notice of Intent to Sue
Essentially, you are required to put your doctor on official notice that you believe that he or she is guilty of medical malpractice and that you intend on filing a claim against him or her before actually filing the claim. If there happen to be multiple healthcare providers that you believe are responsible for your personal injuries and whom you intend on filing a claim against, you must put them all on notice in this manner. The Notice of Intent to Sue must include not only the names of the prospective parties to the action but also a summary of your claim and alleged injuries.
An interesting caveat to this rule is that along with the Notice of Intent to Sue, you are also required to provide the doctor with an affidavit, otherwise known as a verified medical opinion. This affidavit must be signed by an independent doctor attesting to the validity of your medical malpractice claim.
How Can I Move Forward with this Part of My Medical Malpractice Claim?
You’re likely perplexed about why in the world this onerous requirement exists, not to mention uncertain about how you would go about finding an independent doctor that is going to explicitly accuse another doctor of medical malpractice.
This requirement may seem a bit unfair and unduly burdensome. To an extent, it is. After all, once you actually find a qualified medical professional that will attest to the merits of your medical malpractice claim, you then must gather all the relevant medical records and other key documentation for this medical expert to review before formulating his opinion. Nevertheless, as onerous as this may seem, facts are that it is the current law and your compliance with this pre-suit requirement is key to the success of your medical malpractice claim.
A medical malpractice attorney can help you to locate the appropriate physician for your affidavit and guide you through the pre-suit requirements in general. While I wish I could tell you otherwise, there is still more that must be done before you are entitled to file your medical malpractice claim.
A 90 Day Pre-Suit Investigation
Once you have notified your doctor that you intend to file a medical malpractice claim, you must engage in 90 days of what ultimately boils down to settlement efforts. The subject doctor may or may not decide to settle the matter within this time frame. Nevertheless, he or she is still entitled to three months time to consider whether or not to resolve the matter before it proceeds to trial. During this three-month settlement process, you and the prospective Defendant will engage in some informal discovery. Namely, you will exchange some official written questions and requests for documentation with one another. These questions and requests are intended to result in a reasonable settlement without the need for litigation.
By the end of this 90-day investigation period, you can expect that the medical providers whom you intend to sue will do one of the following:
- Reject the Claim
- Make an Offer to Settle the Matter
- Offer Arbitration on the Issue of Damages Alone.
What the third possibility ultimately means is that the doctor would be admitting that he was at fault in exchange for arbitration as to the reasonable amount of damages that you are entitled. As a word of caution, while this might sound like a good idea, that isn’t always the case. As opposed to trial where your matter is being decided by 12 impartial jurors, arbitration is a binding process where a binding decision is made by an arbitrator, who – depending on the particular facts and circumstances of your case- may or may not have been mutually agreed upon by the parties. The word “binding” should not be taken lightly here. You will not have the option to go back a have your case heard in the civil system after selecting arbitration.
Consult with a Tampa Personal Injury Attorney Today
The pros and cons of arbitration versus trial are yet another aspect of your medical malpractice claim that you should discuss with a personal injury attorney. Tampa attorneys at Burnetti, PA are ready to help you receive the compensation that you deserve in your medical malpractice action.