There is a statute of limitations on medical malpractice cases in Florida. According to F.S. §95.11(4)(b), victims must file a lawsuit within two years from the time of the malpractice incident—or two years from the time the incident was discovered.
What If I Was Not Immediately Aware That Medical Malpractice Occurred?
The discovery rule applies to situations in which the patient does not immediately realize that malpractice has occurred. For example, suppose you underwent a surgical procedure, and everything seemed fine afterward. It is not until several months later that you experience complications, which you can ultimately trace back to a surgical error.
According to the discovery rule, the statute of limitations clock begins ticking on the date you discovered a surgical error had occurred, not on the date of your surgery. While this rule can provide you with extra time to take legal action, it is important to seek legal advice immediately if you have any suspicion that medical malpractice occurred.
What If a Doctor or Healthcare Provider Hides Malpractice From a Patient?
Intentional concealment of malpractice is one common reason why legitimate claims go unexplored. In the event of fraud, concealment, or intentional misrepresentation of fact, the two-year statute of limitations to file a lawsuit extends to four years.
In other words, if a healthcare provider commits malpractice and then takes intentional steps to hide that fact from the patient, the patient has an additional two years to file a malpractice lawsuit against the provider.
Are There Extensions to the Two-Year Statute of Limitations?
There are some situations where you could qualify for an extension of the statute of limitations.
The Pre-Suit Investigation
According to F.S. §766.104(1), the claimant’s attorney must conduct a reasonable pre-suit investigation before filing a claim. This investigation establishes a good faith basis that medical negligence occurred and identifies the responsible party or parties. This step is one of the state’s pre-filing requirements for malpractice cases.
During this investigation phase, the statute of limitations is “tolled,” or put on hold. The statute makes it clear that “no court order is required for the extension to be effective.” This tolling provision is in addition to any other tolling periods.
The Notice of Intent to Initiate Litigation
After completing the pre-suit investigation, the claimant must serve each prospective defendant with a notice of their intent to initiate litigation. The claimant and their attorney have 90 days to do this, during which the statute of limitations is tolled.
If both parties agree to extend this period beyond 90 days, the statute of limitations will not begin again until that period expires.
What If the At-Fault Party Was a Government Employee?
Many hospitals and other healthcare facilities within the state are governmental entities covered under the state’s sovereign immunity statute. Claimants must follow special requirements and limitations when suing the state or its agencies or subdivisions.
These special requirements, however, do not affect the statute of limitations. If you are suing a state hospital or a healthcare provider who works for the government, the same two-year time limit applies.
What If a Family Member Died as a Result of Medical Malpractice?
In cases where medical malpractice results in death, the statute of limitations governing medical malpractice claims applies, not the statute of limitations for wrongful death actions.
Both statutes run for two years. The critical difference is when the clock begins ticking. For medical malpractice claims, the time limit begins when the medical malpractice occurred or when it was discovered, not upon death.
If you lost a family member due to medical malpractice, it is essential that you understand how the state’s Wrongful Death Act will impact your case. Our attorneys can help you navigate state laws so you are not time-barred from initiating a lawsuit.
How Can I Talk to a Medical Malpractice Lawyer About My Case?
The attorneys at Medical Malpractice Help can help you determine if your doctor committed malpractice and whether you are within the statute of limitations to take legal action. If so, we can build your case and pursue the compensation you deserve.
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