The statute of limitations for medical malpractice in Florida is two years.
Medical malpractice law includes many exceptions and procedural steps. Various circumstances allow for the statute of limitations deadline to be extended.
People suing for malpractice must gather proof of negligence to show that medical mistakes caused significant harm. They may succeed in negotiating an out-of-court settlement or take the case before the courts. Due to the complexity of medical legal cases, years often pass before claims reach their conclusion.
Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice in Florida
As codified by the Florida legislature in 95.11(4)(b), people injured or killed by medical negligence have two years from the date of injury or the discovery of their injuries to sue for damages.
Definition of the Statute of Limitations
A statute of limitations imposes a deadline for filing civil lawsuits concerning injuries. After the time allotted by a statute of limitations expires, a person loses the legal right to sue for financial damages.
Importance of Filing Your Claim Within The Statute Of Limitations
People who suspect that medical malpractice caused harm should seek second medical opinions and legal advice as soon as possible. They will need time to gather evidence. If they take too long to file a complaint, they risk losing the right to sue.
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Definition of Medical Malpractice in Florida
Medical malpractice occurs when a person dies or suffers personal injury due to the incorrect or substandard care of a health care provider. Substandard care means to fall short of prevailing professional practices for diagnosis, treatment, and management of health conditions.
Florida law defines health care providers as hospitals, outpatient surgery centers, birth centers, plasma collection centers, blood banks, clinics, and dialysis centers. Furthermore, health maintenance organizations and professional partnerships and corporations operating in the health care sector qualify as health care providers.
Statute of Limitations Time Limits in Florida
Time may need to pass before a person realizes that a medical procedure, medication, treatment, or diagnostic test has produced harmful results. In recognition of this, the medical malpractice statute of limitations includes a range of time limits.
Florida malpractice law imposes a four-year time limit on detecting injury and filing a medical malpractice claim.
Victims of medical harm have two years from when the harmful medical event occurred to make a claim of malpractice. The two years may also be measured from when the injury was detected as long as it is still within the four-year statute.
Automatic 90-Day Extension
Legal procedures require weeks and sometimes months to complete. For this reason, courts issue an automatic 90-day extension of the statute of limitations as soon as the plaintiff announces the intention to make a malpractice claim. A court grants this extension so that attorneys for both sides can conduct a presuit investigation.
Notice of Intent Requirement
The lawyer representing a medical malpractice victim must send all defendants a Notice of Intent. This document informs the defendants that the plaintiff wants a settlement and plans to sue if necessary.
Pause in Statute of Limitations After Notice of Intent
The serving of Notices of Intent to defendants halts the statute of limitations for 90 days. This pause exists to give both sides opportunities to negotiate or arbitrate a settlement without using up time a victim may need to litigate the case in court.
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Exceptions to the Time Limit Rules in Florida
These exceptions accommodate situations when holding medical negligence victims to the strict statute of limitations deadline would be unfair.
Discovery Rule Exception
Discovery refers to a person noticing the medical problem and figuring out that it was caused by medical malpractice. The date of the discovery serves as the new starting point for the statute of limitations.
Minor Child Exception
A minor child under the age of 18 may have up to seven years to launch a malpractice claim. To some extent, the seven-year limit may be lengthened on cases involving children prior to their eighth birthdays. This exception grants time to detect disabilities resulting from birth injuries.
Deception, concealing information, and other frauds can prevent a person from discovering a medical malpractice injury. When obstructed by fraud, a person gains an additional two years of time.
Damages in Medical Malpractice Cases
A person who proves injury or death occurred due to medical negligence may collect all documented economic damages, such as medical bills and lost income, without restriction.
As for noneconomic damages, like pain and suffering or disfigurement, the Florida Supreme Court ruled in N. Broward Hosp. Dist. v. Kalitan that the state’s previous caps on noneconomic damages represented an injustice to people who suffered extensive, life-altering harm. The ruling lifted caps for health care practitioners but kept them in place for nonpractitioner defendants.
Tolling is the legal term for pausing or interrupting the statute of limitations.
A court will toll the statute of limitations if the defendant is out of state or using a false name to avoid being contacted or served the Notice of Intent.
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Legal Advice and Representation for Medical Malpractice Claims in Florida
The delivery of health care is a complex job, and medical malpractice legal cases can be equally complex. Proving malpractice in court is also very demanding. For these reasons, people who have suffered medical harm rely on the advice and representation of lawyers.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long do I have to sue for medical malpractice in Florida?
People have two years from the date of the harmful medical event or discovery of the injury to file a medical malpractice claim with the courts.
What is the limit for medical malpractice in Florida?
No upper limit is in place on the amount of compensation that a person can collect for documented damages, also known as economic damages. The amount is calculated case by case, according to the individual’s losses and defendant’s insurance coverage.
What percentage of malpractice suits are successful in Florida?
The Florida Department of Health reported in its 2022/2023 annual report that 203 medical malpractice claims went to civil courts that year. Overall, the department was notified that 3,463 claims were settled in some manner.
Although state-level data about the success rate is unclear, a nationwide study of medical malpractice success rates showed that cases that go to court overwhelmingly result in wins for the physicians at a rate of 80% to 90%. When the evidence of negligence is very strong, physicians still win about 50% of the time.
What are the punitive damages for medical malpractice in Florida?
Punitive damages represent a monetary award meant to punish the negligent party. Courts rarely award punitive damages unless the medical practitioner intentionally caused harm or was grossly negligent.
How long after surgery can I sue for malpractice Florida?
A person has two years from the date of the surgery or the date that the harm caused by the surgery was discovered to file a lawsuit.
What is the timeline for malpractice in Florida?
Prior to filing the lawsuit with the applicable circuit court, a case undergoes weeks or months of investigation while medical experts are consulted and all possible liable parties are served the Notice of Intent.
Prior to going to court, the insurer for the health care provider and the attorney for the plaintiff will conduct negotiations that could result in a settlement.
Arbitration could also settle the case. Completing these steps within the two-year statute of limitations is important so that the injured person may file a lawsuit should negotiations not prove successful.
How much are most medical malpractice settlements?
In 2022, the average amount of medical malpractice settlements in Florida was $314,687.
What are the requirements for medical malpractice in Florida?
A medically injured person must show that negligence caused the injury. Florida law defines this as a health care practitioner breaching “the prevailing standard of care” for the given situation.
How do I prove medical malpractice in Florida?
To prove medical malpractice, the injured person needs evidence provided by third-party medical experts. It must show that the health care practitioner did not follow accepted care standards and the injury would not have been foreseeable had care been provided correctly.
Can you sue a doctor for malpractice in Florida?
People can sue doctors or other health care practitioners for medical malpractice as long as the claim is made within the two-year statute of limitations.
What are the requirements for malpractice in Florida?
The medical community develops standards of care for diagnosing and treating patients. These professional standards form the foundation for what acceptable care looks like. Medical malpractice requires evidence that a health care practitioner did not meet accepted standards of care and that the failure was the source the patient harm.
What is considered medical negligence in the state of Florida?
Medical negligence results from incorrect action or inaction under the given circumstances. For example, this could be choosing the wrong medication, deciding not to perform a diagnostic test, or making errors in surgery.
How long do most malpractice cases take?
People can expect a medical malpractice case to last two or more years. The first years may be spent in investigation and negotiation prior to making the decision to go to court. More months and years are then needed for a case to work its way through court hearings and a trial.
What is the three strikes law in Florida for medical malpractice?
In 2004, Florida voters approved a ballot initiative that amended Florida statutes chapters 458 and 459 to revoke the medical licenses of physicians who have three or more proven claims of malpractice.
What is vicarious liability in medical malpractice in Florida?
Vicarious liability occurs when the employer of a health care practitioner, such as a hospital or surgery center, is found to have some responsibility for the patient’s negative outcome as well as the direct actions of the employee.
What is the cap for medical malpractice in Florida Medicaid?
Noneconomic damages, such as those awarded for pain and suffering, may not exceed $300,000 per injured person who received medical care as a Medicaid recipient.
What is the statute of limitations on medical malpractice in Florida?
A person who suspects that medical negligence resulted in harm has two years to file a lawsuit.
Who can sue for medical malpractice in Florida?
The adult patient who suffered medical injury can make a claim for medical malpractice damages. Severely injured or disabled victims may have their spouse, parent, or adult child sue on their behalf.
In the event of wrongful death due to medical malpractice, the surviving spouse, parent, or adult child may file the lawsuit. However, the law does not allow any surviving relatives of an unmarried or widowed adult over the age of 25 who has no children to sue in the event of a wrongful death.