Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim: What You Need to Know

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Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations

Generally you have a deadline of two years to file a medical malpractice suit. You can, alternatively, file suit within two years of when the malpractice injury was detected or should have been detected. However, no one may commence a malpractice claim more than four years after the act causing injury. If you believe that you are the victim of medical malpractice, contact a Fort Lauderdale medical malpractice lawyer right away.

Florida Patient Bill of Rights

Florida’s Constitution now contains a Patient Bill of Rights and Responsibilities. Also called the “Patient’s Right to Know,” this constitutional amendment says that patients can request and receive records of healthcare providers’ (or facilities’) incidents which may have caused injury or wrongful death. This right helps consumers make informed medical choices by reviewing healthcare provider records.

Pre-Lawsuit Requirements

Before a malpractice lawsuit can be filed, your lawyer must complete several steps, including (but not limited to) conducting an investigation to determine if grounds exist for a case, gathering and reviewing pertinent medical records, and having a “similar healthcare provider” review the records as well. Notice of a potential lawsuit must be given to each defendant. A 90-day investigative period ensues, and after that, assuming the defendant(s) reject the claim, the suit may be filed.

Caps on Damages in Malpractice Cases

Non-economic damages, such as damages for pain and suffering, are capped at between $500,000 and $1.5 million in Florida, though the constitutionality of these caps is still up for debate. Unfortunately, any malpractice lawyer knows that poor people and retired people are unable to show large economic damages after malpractice because they didn’t earn that much to begin with.

Recent Florida Supreme Court Ruling

A 5-2 ruling by Florida’s Supreme Court at the end of 2012 said that defendants in Florida malpractice suits may not obtain confidential medical information about plaintiffs from other healthcare providers who treat them. Private meetings about cases between defense lawyers and the plaintiff’s other healthcare providers are prohibited, even if they purport to only discuss non-privileged information. This small victory for patients prevents the defendants from circumventing patient confidentiality laws.