When it comes to filing a personal injury claim, sometimes you may be able to handle it yourself. However, this is not true for medical malpractice lawsuits.
Medical malpractice law in Florida is complex and highly specialized, with many additional rules and regulations that are not present for other types of lawsuits. If you’re considering suing for medical malpractice in Florida, you really need an experienced attorney to help you through the process and to help you recover the compensation you deserve.
The following are just a few examples of the complexities surrounding this specialized area.
Reduced statute of limitations
Every type of civil lawsuit has a statute of limitations — a specified time period after the accident or injury occurs in which you can file a lawsuit. This time period varies depending on the type of claim being filed, and from state to state.
For most types of negligence or personal injury, the Florida statute of limitations is 4 years. However, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice is generally 2 years in Florida, with a few exceptions.
While 2 years might seem like a long time, it’s important to realize that the statute of limitations applies to the actual filing of the lawsuit and not how long you can take to decide whether to file. In Florida, there are many steps an attorney must take before a medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed, so it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible, even if you are unsure if you want to file a lawsuit.
The presuit process
Medical malpractice lawsuits in Florida require a lengthy and expensive presuit process before the suit can be filed.
In a presuit process, an attorney must:
- Conduct an investigation into the incident and verify that there are reasonable grounds to claim medical negligence
- Gather the injured person’s medical records, review them and send them to a medical expert for a second review
- Create an affidavit, or verified written medical expert opinion, based on the medical expert’s review of the records
- Send the affidavit with a “Notice of Intent to Initiate Litigation for Medical Negligence” to all prospective defendants in the lawsuit
- Engage in a 90-day presuit investigation period to communicate with the defendants, exchange questions and documents, and take statements
At this point, a lawsuit can be filed if the defendant rejects the claim.
Use of expert witnesses
When a personal injury lawsuit goes to trial, the injured person is allowed to testify about the nature of the injury, how it occurred, and the consequences of the injury to the victim’s life. However, Florida law requires that in a medical malpractice lawsuit, information on the plaintiff’s injury must come from a medical expert.
There are several provisions that define appropriate expert witness for a medical malpractice trial. The witness must be active in a specific type of practice for a specified period of time, and must have specialties that are sufficiently similar to the defendant. Often, these requirements mean several expert witnesses must be used during a trial.
If you’re considering a medical malpractice lawsuit, it is in your best interest to work with an experienced attorney who understands all the complexities of medical law and is able to secure expert medical witnesses for your case.