How Long Do I Have to File a Medical Malpractice Suit in Florida?
If your doctor made a mistake when diagnosing or treating you, causing complications in the process, you may have grounds for legal action. In the state of Florida, patients who have been wronged are entitled to sue their health care providers for damages.
Since there are a number of restrictions when it comes to filing the actual suit, though, it’s wise to turn to a seasoned professional for guidance. A knowledgeable attorney will explain all the local laws and regulations that could impact the outcome of your case, starting with the statute of limitations.
Often referred to as the filing deadline, the statute of limitations prohibits plaintiffs from taking those who have wronged them to court after a certain amount of time has passed. This protects defendants from having to challenge claims regarding incidents that happened so long ago they couldn’t possibly remember all the details. It also motivates plaintiffs to take action while all the most valuable evidence is still readily available.
Regarding claims involving medical malpractice, the clock generally starts ticking the moment the mistake occurs. The state recognizes, however, that medical errors aren’t always apparent right away, so there is some flexibility on this front. If the provider’s negligence wasn’t immediately obvious, the clock will start ticking when the complications were discovered or should have been discovered through reasonable diligence.
As for the actual deadline, it’s usually two years. That means you likely have two years from when you initially suspected your doctor made a mistake to file a formal lawsuit.
It’s important to note that Florida also has a statute of repose. When the cause of action is not obvious as soon as it occurs—and, therefore, the clock doesn’t start ticking right away—the statute of repose limits how much time the injured party has to proceed in total regardless of when it does become apparent.
When it comes to medical malpractice suits, for example, patients are usually prohibited from taking action more than four years after the incident occurred, even if it took three years or more to recognize that their physician made an error. Should you attempt to bring your case after the applicable deadline has passed, the judge will dismiss it, leaving you with no financial recourse.
Since there are a number of exceptions to these statutes—the four-year deadline doesn’t apply to suits involving children under 8, for example—it’s advisable to call an attorney as soon as possible. They can determine precisely how much time you have to proceed, so you don’t lose the chance to pursue the compensation you deserve.
Discuss Your Case with a Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Tampa
At Capaz Law Firm, P.A., we’re not afraid to go up against even the most powerful medical institutions or their insurers. If you suffered complications because of a negligent doctor, let our compassionate team help you take the steps needed to hold them accountable. Call 813-551-3907 or fill out our Contact Form to schedule your free, no obligation consultation with a medical malpractice attorney in Tampa.