We see doctors and other medical professionals for a variety of reasons. But regardless of whether we’re dealing with something minor or major, we expect medical professionals to competently and correctly perform their duties.
But sometimes that doesn’t happen. After all, those in the medical field are still people, and we all make mistakes. In the event that a medical professional doesn’t live up to their standards and causes an injury to a patient, that patient might have a medical malpractice lawsuit on their hands.
Statute of Limitations
There are deadlines for many things. You have to return a library book by a certain date. You have to pay your credit card bill on time. You have to file your tax return by April 15. And when it comes to lawsuits, there’s also a filing deadline known as a statute of limitations.
In Florida, you have to start your lawsuit within two years of discovering the injury – or when you should have discovered the injury. At the most, you have four years from when the malpractice took place.
So if you are unable to discover your injury within four years, you won’t be allowed to file a malpractice suit.
There are two exceptions to this rule:
- For cases that involve fraud, concealment, or intentional misrepresentation by a prospective defendant health care provider, the plaintiff has a maximum of 7 years to file a suit.
- If a minor child is injured, the statute of limitations does not apply if the case begins on or before the child’s eighth birthday.
But, it’s also not as easy as that.
If you plan to sue a health care provider, you have to serve a notice of intent to sue first. This notice includes an affidavit from a medical professional that says you have a valid medical malpractice claim.
Then, the health care provider has 90 days to settle or decide not to settle. If the provider chooses not to settle, then you have 60 days or the remainder of the statute of limitations – whichever is longer – to sue. Additionally, you can gain an extra 90 days if you file for an investigation period. But you won’t be able to extend the statute of limitations if it has already expired.
But there’s more.
Medical Malpractice Damage Caps
Not only are there time limits to medical practice suits, but there are also caps on the amount of damages you can receive, depending on the severity of the injury and who is being sued.
- There is a $500,000 cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice suits against practitioners such as an individual doctor.
- There is a $750,000 cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice suits against non-practitioner defendants such as a corporate health care provider.
- If the malpractice resulted in a vegetative state or death, the cap jumps up to $1,000,000.
It’s important to note that these caps are the maximum amount the defendant has to pay out – even if there are multiple plaintiffs. And if there are multiple defendants, the plaintiff will only be allowed to receive the cap amount.
If, however, the injury was especially severe and it would be unjust to apply the standard cap, a court can override the caps and award an individual plaintiff up to $1,000,000.
As you can see, when it comes to medical malpractice suits, there’s a lot to be aware of. But an experienced Florida malpractice lawyer can make sure your case follows the rules to get you your rightful compensation.
About the Author:
Since 1994, seasoned litigation and trial lawyer Anthony B. White has helped thousands of accident victims seek damages due to injuries sustained as a result of another party’s negligence. Included in America’s Registry of Outstanding Professionals and selected to the 2012, 2013, and 2014 editions of Florida Super Lawyers, Mr. White specializes in car accidents, insurance disputes, wrongful death, product liability, and medical malpractice cases. He is a longstanding member of the Florida Justice Association and the American Association for Justice and currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Broward County Justice Association.