When a medical professional makes a mistake that leads to a patient becoming injured or ill, the person harmed should be able to recover compensation through a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, filing these claims can be confusing. Here, we want to discuss the basics of filing a medical malpractice lawsuit in Florida.
Pre-Lawsuit Requirements for Medical Malpractice
Unlike other types of personal injury lawsuits, there are various requirements that must be met before a medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed in this state.
An attorney must first obtain an affidavit from a medical professional that confirms that the injuries or illness are related to a medical error.
The claimant, or their attorney, must then notify the individual or entity that they intend to file a lawsuit and are initiating litigation. This notification must include the affidavit mentioned above.
Defendants will have 90 days after receiving notice to respond to the claim. During this time, they will be able to collect evidence and obtain medical records.
In some cases, this process could lead to a negotiated settlement, but the reality is that most medical professionals and facilities accused of malpractice do choose to fight these claims in court. If 90 days have passed and no settlement has been negotiated, the plaintiff and their attorney have a right to file a medical malpractice lawsuit.
Filing the Claim in Court
Filing a medical malpractice claim is complex, and individuals should always work with a skilled medical malpractice lawyer who has experience doing this. This is a civil claim filed in civil court, not a criminal claim.
After a medical malpractice lawsuit in Florida is filed, the “discovery process” begins. This is when the attorneys for both the plaintiff and the defendant will have a chance to continue investigating the incident, exchange evidence with one another, and take depositions of any potential witnesses involved. The discovery process can be time-consuming, sometimes lasting years. In some cases, evidence will come to light to get one side or the other to either settle the claim or drop the case.
There may be mediation ordered by a judge where both sides will come together with a third-party neutral mediator in order to resolve the claim before a trial becomes necessary. However, if no settlement is reached, the claim will go to a jury trial.
Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Time Limits in Florida
In the state of Florida, there is a medical malpractice statute of limitations in place that dictates how long individuals have to file these lawsuits in court. In this state, the deadline for filing a medical malpractice claim is two years from the date the incident occurs. However, there are various exceptions to this two-year time frame, such as if a doctor or facility takes steps to conceal the error. In these cases, victims have two years from the date of discovering their injuries to file a claim.
Overall, all medical malpractice claims must be filed within seven years from the date the incident occurred, regardless of whether or not the incident was concealed.