Like several jurisdictions in the United States, Florida has a statute of limitations law that regulates the time frame an aggrieved person has to bring an action against a defendant. The law regulating the limitation period for medical malpractice is the Florida Comprehensive Medical Malpractice Reform Act.
The law has been in existence since 1985 and has been amended several times to accommodate the hurdles faced by victims of medical malpractice. Offenses of this kind are civil in nature and fall under personal injury or wrongful death lawsuits, which requires Lakeland medical malpractice lawyers‘ expertise.
Years of litigation experience has shown that victims do not have first-hand information on whom they can sue for medical malpractice and when they should commence the action. The preceding is about to change as we look at the time frame to seek redress for medical malpractice.
Who Gets Sued for Medical Malpractice?
Florida law uses the term medical negligence instead of malpractice. It defines the offense as the breach of the prevailing professional standard of care by a healthcare provider in diagnosing and treating a patient, which results in an injury or death.
A healthcare provider in this category includes:
- Any hospital or ambulance service
- A birth center
- A medical doctor
- An osteopathic doctor
- A chiropractic doctor
- A podiatrist
- An optometrist
- A dentist, dental hygienist, or dental laboratory
- A midwife
- A provider of orthotics, prosthetics, or pedorthics
- A physical therapist
- A health maintenance organization
- A blood bank
- A plasma center
- An industrial clinic
- A renal dialysis facility
- A professional association, partnership or joint venture, or corporation comprising of healthcare providers
The list shows many professionals and bodies who can get sued for medical malpractice, but it is by no means exhaustive. Thus, you should consult a medical malpractice attorney in Lakeland for guidance on other persons or groups you can sue under this head.
The Basics of the Florida Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations stipulates the time frame to bring an action against a defendant, and failure to do so means that the aggrieved person won’t get a legal remedy. In Florida, ordinary negligence actions have a limitation period of four years, but it is shorter for medical malpractice.
Victims of the negligent actions of healthcare providers have two years to institute an action. The time starts counting from the date the person suffered an injury or within the two years after an injury caused by medical negligence could have been “Reasonably” discovered.
In keeping with the trends in other jurisdictions, the state created a four-year repose statute but barred all lawsuits after the four years elapses. The two exceptions to this 4-year statute are:
- A seven-year maximum cap for cases with elements of fraud, concealment, or intentional misrepresentation by a prospective health care provider.
- Victims below or 8-year-old when the injury occurred. The maximum period for bringing the action is extended beyond the seven years if the lawsuit brought on the minor’s behalf commences on or before the child’s 8th birthday.
The Relevance of Pre-Suit Investigation to the Statute of Limitations
Pre-suit investigations are vital when dealing with medical malpractice lawsuits and the statute of limitations. It helps shed light on issues regarding:
- The injury suffered;
- The time the injury occurred; and
- Whether or not the healthcare provider was negligent in any capacity
The law provides a 90-day extension of the statute of limitations period with consideration for pre-suit investigations, during which the claimant would petition the relevant court. Thus, when filing an action, it is essential to appropriately measure when the victim realized the injury suffered to the limitation’s expiration.
If the 90-day extension is not enough to gather the required evidence and expert opinion necessary to prove negligence, the claimant can petition the court for additional time. Another way to get extra time is the 90-day post-notice period.
The claimant gives the latter to the defendant, and by implication, it stops the counting of the limitation period until its expiration. During that time, the defendant can investigate the claim and cooperate in the claimant’s reasonable discovery.
Contact Burnetti, P.A. to Get the Help You Need
The above rules show that when dealing with medical malpractice lawsuits, time is precious. Every step taken must follow the law if the victim would get damages for the injury suffered.
Having adequate legal representation goes a long way to help you get compensation. Our team of Lakeland medical malpractice attorneys can help you with this. Contact Burnetti, P.A. today to schedule a free consultation.