Medical malpractice injures people and takes lives. In fact, one research report estimated that diagnostic errors affect about 12 million Americans annually, and over 250,000 Americans are killed by medical errors annually. If you or a loved one were harmed by a negligent healthcare provider, you deserve to be made whole by receiving compensation for your injuries.
However, you must take legal action within a certain time period, or you will be unable to recover damages. In Florida, you must file your case within two years of discovering the harm. This guide explains some of the intricacies of filing a Florida medical malpractice claim and navigating the statute of limitations on medical malpractice in Florida.
Why Is There a Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice?
The statute of limitations on medical malpractice claims in Florida serves several purposes. First, having a time limit on filing your claim encourages prompt resolution and predictability. The statute of limitations provides a deadline by which a medical malpractice claim must be filed, encouraging aggrieved patients to get their injuries dealt with and their claims resolved. The time limit also protects medical professionals, which is important for a well-functioning medical system. By protecting medical professionals from liability for events that occurred long ago, a statute of limitations prevents medical professionals from being unfairly targeted in lawsuits years after the fact when no records or witnesses remain.
Likewise, a statute of limitations preserves evidence. As time passes, evidence related to a medical malpractice claim may become lost or degraded, making it difficult to determine what happened. The statute of limitations ensures that cases are resolved while evidence remains available and fresh.
While the statute of limitations can be a frustrating hurdle for plaintiffs who want to file a claim on their own terms and time, it is a foundational principle that helps ensure a fair and efficient legal system. It is important to note that there are exceptions to the statute of limitations, and an experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you navigate these exceptions and determine whether you have a valid claim.
How Long Do You Have to File a Medical Malpractice Lawsuit in Florida?
In Florida, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is generally two years from the date of the alleged malpractice or from the date the malpractice was discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence.
The two-year statute of limitations is a strict deadline, which means that if you don’t file a medical malpractice lawsuit within the allotted time, you may lose your right to pursue legal action. If you have questions or concerns about the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice claim in Florida, an experienced medical malpractice attorney may be able to assist.
Are There Exceptions to the Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations?
While two years is generally the limitation on the time for filing a medical malpractice claim, there are some important exceptions to this general rule. Many of these have to do with the delayed discovery of some kind of medical malpractice.
- First, there is an exception for the discovery of foreign objects. If the medical malpractice involved leaving a foreign object inside a patient’s body, the statute of limitations is extended to two years from the date the object was discovered or should have been discovered.
- Next, If the patient was a minor at the time of the alleged malpractice, the statute of limitations is extended until the child’s 18th birthday.
- There is also an extension for the discovery of fraud or misrepresentation. If the medical professional or facility engaged in fraud, concealment, or misrepresentation related to the malpractice, the statute of limitations may be extended.
- Finally, the statute of limitations may increase if the malpractice took place in the course of continuous treatment. If the medical professional provided continuing treatment for the condition that led to the malpractice, the limitation period may go up to a maximum of seven years from the date of the malpractice.
What Is the “Discovery Rule” in a Florida Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
To elaborate on the ideas above, most of the extensions to the Florida statute of limitations hinge on the idea of the “discovery rule.” The discovery rule in a medical malpractice case is a legal principle that allows the statute of limitations clock to begin ticking at the time when the patient discovers, or reasonably should have discovered, the injury caused by the medical malpractice rather than at the time the malpractice occurred.
The discovery rule protects patients who have been harmed by medical malpractice but were unaware of it. They may not have even discovered the harm until years after the malpractice occurred. Without the discovery rule, the statute of limitations may have run out before the patient knew they had a claim.
The discovery rule does not apply in all cases, and the specifics of when the clock starts ticking can vary depending on the details of the case. A Florida medical malpractice attorney can help you understand whether your case may qualify for an extension of the statute of limitations.
Find Out How James Horne Law Can Help
James “Jay” Horne is an experienced medical malpractice and personal injury lawyer and has helped hundreds of Florida residents get the resolution they deserve in medical malpractice cases. He would be happy to help you as well. He can help you understand your rights and what your case might be worth. He is ready to fight for your right to receive compensation.
Have you been a victim of medical malpractice? Contact James Horne Law today at 941-210-6000 or fill out the form on our website to request a consultation. We are committed to our clients and will strive to achieve the best results possible for you.