The statute of limitations for medical malpractice in Florida is two years. Medical malpractice law involves various exceptions and procedural steps. Different circumstances can lead to an extension of the statute of limitations deadline.

Individuals filing malpractice suits must gather evidence of negligence to demonstrate that medical errors resulted in significant harm. They might achieve a settlement outside of court or escalate the case to the judicial system. Given the intricate nature of medical-legal disputes, it often takes years before claims are resolved.

Florida’s Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice

Under Florida law, as outlined in 95.11(4)(b) by the Florida legislature, individuals harmed or deceased due to medical malpractice have a two-year window from the injury date or the identification of the injuries to pursue compensation through legal action.

Statute of Limitations Defined

A statute of limitations sets a deadline for filing civil lawsuits related to injuries. Once this timeframe expires, individuals forfeit their legal right to seek financial compensation through a lawsuit.

Importance of Submitting Your Claim Within the Proper Time Frame

Individuals suspecting medical malpractice should promptly seek second medical opinions and legal counsel. Gathering evidence is crucial, as delays in filing a complaint may result in forfeiting the right to legal action.

Medical Malpractice in Florida Defined

Medical malpractice occurs when an individual dies or experiences harm due to improper or below-standard care from a healthcare provider. Below-standard care refers to failing to meet established professional standards in diagnosing, treating, and managing health conditions.

According to Florida law, health care providers include hospitals, outpatient surgery centers, birth centers, plasma collection centers, blood banks, clinics, and dialysis centers. Additionally, health maintenance organizations, professional partnerships, and corporations operating in the healthcare sector are considered health care providers.

Time Limits Involved in the Statute of Limitations in Florida

Time may elapse before an individual becomes aware of any adverse effects from a medical procedure, medication, treatment, or diagnostic test. Consequently, the medical malpractice statute of limitations encompasses various timeframes to account for this possibility.

Notice of Intent Requirement

The attorney advocating for a victim of medical malpractice is required to dispatch a Notice of Intent to all defendants. This formal document serves to notify the defendants that the plaintiff seeks a settlement and intends to pursue legal action if required.

Pause in Statute of Limitations After Notice of Intent

Serving Notices of Intent to defendants pauses the statute of limitations for 90 days. This break allows both parties to explore negotiation or arbitration for a settlement, preserving time that a victim might require for litigation in court.

Automatic 90-Day Extension

Legal processes often span weeks, and at times, even months for completion. Hence, upon the plaintiff’s declaration of intent to file a malpractice claim, courts typically grant an automatic 90-day extension to the statute of limitations. This extension allows both parties’ attorneys to perform a preliminary investigation before initiating formal proceedings.

Two-Year Statute

Those who have suffered medical harm have a two-year window from the date of the incident to file a malpractice claim. Alternatively, this timeframe can begin from the discovery of the injury, provided it falls within the four-year statutory limit.

Four-Year Statute

In Florida, medical malpractice law sets a four-year deadline for discovering an injury and initiating a malpractice claim.

There Are Exceptions When it Comes to Time Limit Rules

These exceptions are necessary for cases where enforcing the strict statute of limitations on medical negligence victims would be unjust.

Discovery Rule Exception

Discovery occurs when an individual identifies a medical issue and determines it resulted from medical malpractice. The discovery date marks the commencement of the statute of limitations.

Fraud Exception

Deception, withholding information, and other fraudulent acts can hinder the detection of a medical malpractice injury. When impeded by deceit, an individual is granted an additional two-year timeframe.

Minor Child Exception

A minor child below 18 years old may have the opportunity to initiate a malpractice claim within a span of seven years. In certain situations, this period may be extended for cases related to children before they turn eight. This special provision allows for the identification of disabilities arising from birth injuries.

Tolling Provisions

Tolling refers to the legal act of pausing or interrupting the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations can be tolled by a court when the defendant is located out of state or is using a false name to evade service of the Notice of Intent.

Damages in Medical Malpractice Cases

If someone demonstrates that injury or death resulted from medical negligence, they may receive all verifiable economic losses, including medical expenses and lost wages, without limitations. Regarding noneconomic damages, such as pain, suffering, or disfigurement, the Florida Supreme Court eliminated caps for healthcare providers but maintained them for non-practitioner defendants.