If you have incurred an injury due to the negligence of a healthcare provider, you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit. Such a lawsuit can be filed against a doctor, a healthcare facility or any other healthcare professional. You can seek damages for the medical costs and any other losses you suffer because of the injury caused by negligence but it is important to know the medical malpractice lawsuit requirements in Florida.
In the state of Florida, you must meet a number of requirements when filing a malpractice lawsuit. Before you decide to sue for damages, it is advisable that you know these requirements and fulfill them. A Lakeland medical malpractice attorney is often very helpful in helping you meet these requirements
Pre-Suit Requirements for a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit
Before you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit, you must meet certain pre-suit requirements. As a part of these requirements, you must notify the defendants you are going to name in the lawsuit. This gives the defendants a chance to look at the allegations brought up against them.
A pre-suit notice also gives defendants a chance to investigate your malpractice claim. The defendants have a 90-day period to review the claim. During this period, they can choose to settle the claim directly. If they decide to contest your claim, you can go ahead and file the lawsuit.
Statute of Requirements
As a general rule, Florida has a two-year Statute of Limitations for medical malpractice cases. This means that you must file a malpractice claim within two years of the incident of malpractice. In cases where you may discover malpractice later, the statute is tolled from the date of discovery. Even then, you have a maximum of four years from the date of alleged malpractice.
If the healthcare provider somehow concealed the malpractice through fraud, the statute is extended. You must still file the malpractice within two years of discovery, with a maximum of seven years from the date of alleged malpractice.
Another exception to the two-year rule is when the victim is aged eight years or younger. In this case, the lawsuit can be filed even after the seven-year period has elapsed.
Damages Caps for Florida Malpractice Lawsuit
The state of Florida sets a maximum cap on the non-economic damages you can seek in a malpractice lawsuit. Non-economic damages refer to damages paid for the pain and suffering you endure because of the malpractice. If you are suing a medical practitioner, the cap is set at $500,000 as per Florida Statutes 766.118. When the lawsuit is brought against a non-practitioner, such as a healthcare entity, the maximum cap is set at $750,000.
However, there is no limit on the economic damages you can seek for medical malpractice. The actual amount of these damages will depend on the injury-related losses you can demonstrate in the court.
Affidavit and Testimony of a Medical Expert
In almost all medical malpractice lawsuits, the expert opinion of a relevant medical professional is required. You will need this opinion even before you file the lawsuit. When you send the pre-suit requirements to potential defendants, you are required to attach an affidavit of a medical expert. Such an affidavit typically corroborates your claim and confirms that you have a valid case of malpractice.
As you move forward with the lawsuit, the opinion of a medical expert will again be used by the court to judge your case. It is important to find a medical expert in the relevant area of expertise and with a good repute when seeking support for your claim.
Pre-Trial Settlement Requirements
Florida Statutes 766.108 mandates that the plaintiff and the defendants in a medical malpractice case meet for mediation before trail. This is essentially a settlement conference where the court encourages the defendants and plaintiffs to discuss the case and possibly reach a settlement. A judge or a senior lawyer typically serves as a mediator at such a conference.
You should ideally appear with an attorney at the court-mandated mediation. The meeting includes negotiations over the amount of settlement and related matters. An attorney provides you expert legal advice as to whether or not a proposed settlement is a fair recompense for your loss.
Hiring a Medical Malpractice Attorney in Lakeland
A medical malpractice lawsuit is a complicated affair. You must meet stringent requirements, provide proof, seek expert testimony and bring together supporting materials for your case. You also need to negotiate with the defendants and defend your claim. On your own, it can be very hard to win the lawsuit and get the damages you deserve. A Lakeland medical malpractice lawyer can help you prepare the claim, file the lawsuit and ultimately get a fair compensation.
Here at Burnetti PA, we have worked with countless malpractice victims in Lakeland. We help you seek the maximum amount of compensation for your injury and other losses. We also help you meet all the requirements of a malpractice case as set forth by Florida Statutes. Contact us today for a FREE consultation with our attorneys and let us help you.