The statute of limitations for medical malpractice in Florida is the law that spells out how long a patient has to file a lawsuit if they have been the victim of medical negligence.
In most cases, the clock starts ticking from the moment the patient was injured or became aware or should have known of their injuries. If a patient misses the deadline as spelled out in the statute of limitations, they may have forfeited their rights to seek compensation for their injuries.
2 Years in which to File a Claim
In Florida, injured patients usually have only 2 years in which to file a medical malpractice lawsuit:
“An action for medical malpractice shall be commenced within 2 years from the time the incident giving rise to the action occurred or within 2 years from the time the incident is discovered, or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence.” – Florida Statutes section 95.11(4)(b)
The statute of limitations for medical malpractice in Florida specifies that in some cases the 2 year deadline for filing a claim starts at the time the incident should have been discovered, not when it happened. In medical malpractice, injuries often don’t manifest themselves for some time after they occurred. This discovery rule ensures that victims can pursue legal actions against the negligent parties even after the 2 years if the malpractice wasn’t discovered right away. In all cases, regardless of when the incident is discovered, a lawsuit must be filed within 4 years of the negligence.
As an example, if a doctor was negligent in failing to diagnose cancer, and that cancer wasn’t discovered until 5 years after the doctor should have diagnosed it, there would not be a cause of action because it is outside the 4 year time limit.
Patients must be vigilant in going to other medical professionals for a second medical opinion, both to protect their health and to protect their legal rights against negligent medical professionals.
The law provides an exception for a case filed on behalf of a minor on or before their 8th birthday.
Exceptions for Fraud
Injured patients should know that, in some circumstances, there are exceptions to the 2 year deadline. Florida Statutes section 95.11(4)(b) states that if:
“It can be shown that fraud, concealment, or intentional misrepresentation of fact prevented the discovery of the injury the period of limitations is extended forward 2 years from the time that the injury is discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence, but in no event to exceed 7 years from the date the incident giving rise to the injury occurred.”
This means that if you discover the negligent parties were guilty of falsifying, altering or destroying evidence even after 2 years, you may still be able to file a malpractice lawsuit against them. However, you have the burden of proving this.
Again, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice provides an extension for a case filed on behalf of a minor for negligence that occurred on or before their 8th birthday.
Don’t Let the Window of Opportunity Close on Your Medical Malpractice Case
There are other reasons for taking immediate legal action in a case of medical malpractice besides the statute of limitations. The longer you wait, the more difficult it may be to discover the evidence needed to prove a medical malpractice claim. Evidence can be lost, witnesses can be hard or even impossible to locate, and memories of events by those were involved may be unclear.
Far too many patients miss their right to damages against a negligent doctor while waiting to see if their situation will improve on its own as the doctor suggests. If you have a symptom, you should consider yourself on notice. It’s much easier to file on time than to have to argue when the negligence should have been noticed.
For more than 35 years, Lisa Levine has put her vast legal knowledge and experience to work helping victims of medical malpractice in Fort Lauderdale, Weston, Pompano Beach, Hollywood, Sunrise, Pembroke Pines and other South Florida communities. If you were the victim of medical malpractice, don’t delay – contact the law offices of Lisa Levine today to set up a confidential consultation. Don’t let Florida’s statute of limitations laws deny you the justice you deserve.