The Pre-Filing Requirements for a Florida Medical Malpractice Case
In many ways, a medical malpractice case is similar to other personal injury claims based upon negligence. When a health care practitioner breaches the duty to provide care within medically accepted standards, the patient can recover compensation for losses related to his or her injuries. However, medical malpractice cases are also very different in some ways. They’re infinitely more complex due to the medical subject matter, and there are complicated pre-filing requirements under Florida law. You must comply with these prerequisites and go through certain stages before you can initiate a civil lawsuit for medical malpractice.
The first step is to consult with a Florida medical malpractice attorney regarding your claim, as retaining legal representation will ensure your case proceeds smoothly through the rest of the process.
Reasonable Investigation: Before filing, the party or attorney must conduct a reasonable investigation to assess whether there are grounds to believe – in good faith – that medical malpractice has occurred. The point of this pre-filing requirement is to protect against frivolous lawsuits, which doctors claimed were commonplace before the statute was enacted. Your claim will pass this test if you can present some evidence to support your allegations, though you don’t need to officially prove your entire case at this point. In order to satisfy the statute’s requirement, your lawyer must obtain an affidavit from a licensed expert saying that there was negligence and that the negligence caused injury.
Notice Requirements Before Filing: Upon completion of the investigation, the plaintiff must provide notice to each potential defendant of the intent to file a lawsuit for medical malpractice. This writing must include a list of physicians that have treated you since the alleged error, those who provided care for two years before, and copies of medical records.
Investigation Period by the Health Care Provider: After the notice of intent to file, any prospective defendant has 90 days to conduct their own investigation into the existence of medical malpractice. You cannot initiate litigation during this time period; however, the clock on the statute of limitations is stopped.
Informal Discovery and Admissibility of Evidence: Both the plaintiff and potential defendants will participate in a type of informal discovery during the 90-day period following the notice of intent. You, through your attorney, and the health care practitioners may:
- Exchange written questions
- Issue requests for documents, records, and other relevant items
- Request unsworn statements
In addition, the potential defendants MUST do one or more of the following:
- Engage in an internal review process
- Work with a panel that includes a medical malpractice lawyer, claims adjuster, and a health care provider with similar experience as one who’s made the alleged medical error
- Work with a medical review committee
Talk to a Florida Medical Malpractice Lawyer About the Process
If you or a loved one suffered harm due to medical error, time is of the essence to get started with these pre-filing requirements. To learn more about the process and your rights, please contact Freidin Brown, P.A. We can set up a free consultation at our offices in Miami or Fort Myers, where an experienced Florida medical malpractice attorney can review your claim and explain your legal options.