Statute of Limitations in Florida Medical Malpractice Cases
When faced with a medical emergency, patients trust that their physicians will provide them with superior treatment, making accurate diagnoses and performing with professional expertise. Unfortunately, far too often, this expectation goes unmet, leaving patients with significant pain and injuries. Physician malpractice accounts for a significant portion of personal injury claims. If you suspect that your doctor’s actions or inactions led to your injuries, you may be able to secure compensation in a Florida court of law. While there are numerous issues for consideration before initiating a case, among the most important are the state’s statute of limitations laws.
What is a Statute of Limitations?
The state allows a certain amount of time for an individual to pursue a personal injury legal claim in the courts. These limitations are partially in place to promote the availability of evidence during a lawsuit. Courts do not want lawsuits brought after evidence has become stale of unavailable. Failure to file within the statute of limitations timeframe can bar you from ever commencing the lawsuit in a Florida court.
Florida’s Statute of Limitations
In Florida, the law is particularly limiting in relation to medical malpractice claims. The injured party is only allowed two years to file a case within the courts. While the legislature asserts that these limitations are in place to reduce frivolous lawsuits and promote settlements, it is important to note that these laws also place a great deal of pressure on the victim to commence a lawsuit. Two years may seem like a long time, but for some injuries and situations, it can prove quite inadequate.
When calculating the statute of limitations in a case, various considerations can affect when the two years commences. Generally, the statute of limitations begins to run when the victim discovered, or reasonably should have discovered, the alleged medical error. This determination is often the source of contention in a court case, which makes it vitally important to secure the services of a qualified attorney as soon as possible after your injury.
Other important considerations include:
- Florida’s statute of repose bars the filing of medical malpractice claims after a four-year period, regardless of when the injury was discovered or reasonably should have been discovered.
- There is an exception to the statute of repose if fraud, concealment, or misrepresentation occurred on the part of the physician. In these cases, the limitation period extends to seven years from the date that the alleged action occurred.
- When the injured party is a child, the statute of repose is extended to the child’s eighth birthday. However, it is important to note that this does not create an extension for the statute of limitations and the court may still bar a claim well before the child’s eighth birthday if the statute of limitations expires.
These and many other procedural requirements can make a medical malpractice claim extremely challenging. An experienced attorney can guide you through the process and lessen your stress. Contact the Pawlowski//Mastrilli Law Group in Tampa Bay at (813) 803-6518 for a free case evaluation.