3 Important Deadlines for Florida Medical Malpractice Cases
Whether a case involves criminal charges, a breach of contract, personal injury, or any other type of legal claim, there are time restrictions that apply. In the realm of civil cases, Florida’s statutes of limitations cover many different types of lawsuits. Every US state has implemented deadlines of one form or another, with the goal being judicial efficiency: A party with a claim should not be allowed to sit on it for an indefinite time. Statutes of limitations force a person or entity to take legal action within a reasonable time, when evidence has not deteriorated and the parties’ memories have not faded.
However, there are some unique factors involved when applying the state statute of limitations to medical malpractice cases. Even though these claims technically fall under personal injury laws, Florida treats health care provider negligence differently. Your South Florida medical malpractice attorney can explain applicability to your situation, but you should understand the three important deadlines for med mal cases.
- Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Cases: The standard time deadline for most personal injury claims is four years, but Florida’s statute of limitations provides just two years for actions based upon medical negligence. You must file a lawsuit in court before it expires, and the clock starts ticking the date that the incident giving rise to the malpractice claim occurred. If you do not initiate litigation within this time, you are barred from recovering any compensation for your losses.
Note that there is an exception for children, as they are under a legal disability until turning 18 years old. Minors have seven years after the date of the injury to file a lawsuit – or the standard statute of limitations, if longer.
- Florida’s Discovery Rule: There are numerous forms of negligence by health care providers that a patient may not know about until long after the act of malpractice occurs. Misdiagnosis is a common example, as are claims involving birth injuries, surgical errors, and stroke malpractice. As a result, Florida has established a “discovery rule” that extends the standard statute of limitations under certain circumstances. If you discover the act giving rise to a malpractice claim sometime after it occurs, you have two years from that date – instead of the date that the error took place. However, the discovery rule cannot extend more than four years in total, measured from the date of the mistake.
- Statute of Repose: Though not directly applicable to med mal cases, statutes of repose operate when your health is compromised by a defective medical device or drug. In Florida, you are barred from suing on a products liability claim after more than 10-12 years have passed.
Learn More by Consulting with a Florida Medical Malpractice Lawyer
The relevant deadlines in med mal cases may seem to provide plenty of time to pursue your claim, but the time period can run quickly. To get started on the legal process right away, please contact the Miami medical malpractice lawyers at Freidin Brown, P.A. We can schedule a free consultation to review your situation at our offices.