Pitfalls in Florida Medical Malpractice Laws

If you or a loved one suffers an injury due to a doctor’s negligence in a Florida hospital or any other medical facility, you will need to navigate a complicated set of rules and regulations to have a medical malpractice claim filed.  While the below is a high level summary of some of the things you need to consider, it is by no means an exhaustive list.  This is the case not just with medical malpractice, but with any legal matter, things are frequently more complicated than they seem to the lay person.

Limited Time to Take Legal Action

For most negligence-based tort claims, the statute of limitations in Florida is four years from the date of the harm. Unfortunately, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice is much shorter. You only have two years from when you either knew, or should have known, that the injury occurred. That’s right – for a medical malpractice claim, you get half the time to take legal action.

Pre-Suit Hurdles

Image Source (CC BY 2.0) by pennstatelaw via flickr
Image Source (CC BY 2.0) by pennstatelaw via flickr

If you retain an experienced Florida medical malpractice attorney and are ready to take legal action within the allotted statute of limitations, there remains a myriad of “pre-suit” requirements that you must satisfy:

  • Your medical malpractice attorney must investigate your claim and verify that there are “reasonable grounds” to believe that a medical professional was negligent and that the negligence resulted in injury to the claimant.
  • Your medical records must be reviewed by a medical expert in the same or a similar field as the doctor who caused your injury.
  • The expert retained on your behalf has to provide a “verified written medical expert opinion,” that they believe, to a reasonable degree of medical certainty, that there are reasonable grounds for your medical malpractice case to move forward.
  • Your Florida medical malpractice lawyer has to file a “Notice of Intent to Initiate Litigation for Medical Negligence.”
  • A 90-day “pre-suit investigative period” will commence after the notice of intent is filed wherein you and the prospective defendant (i.e. your doctor or hospital) exchange written questions, request documents, and provide unsworn statements.
  • Finally, within the 90-day period, the prospective defendant has the right to reject your medical malpractice claim, make a settlement offer, or offer to arbitrate your claim.

The process gets even more complicated if your injury occurred in a public hospital or by a doctor employed by the State of Florida. Why? Because there is a law in place holding that the state of Florida is not liable for any punitive damages and the state and its agencies and subdivisions are not liable to pay a claim or judgment exceeding $200,000 per person, or any claim or judgment exceeding the sum of $300,000. This basically means that the state of Florida has a cap on damages of $200,000 per individual and $300,000 total for a medical malpractice claim.

Why So Many Complex Rules?

Lobbyists for the medical and insurance industry spent years influencing local lawmakers and have successfully sponsored legislation designed to restrict and hinder your ability to hold a negligent doctor or hospital accountable for the preventable mistakes that caused your injury. The result? The system you see above – a system that is so complicated, you would be doing yourself a disservice by not speaking to an experienced Florida medical malpractice attorney.

If you or a loved one suffered a serious medical malpractice injury, contact one of the seasoned Florida medical malpractice attorneys at Hoffman, Larin & Agnetti, P.A. Contact us today at (305) 653-5555 or fill out our online contact form to get your free, no obligation consultation today!