How Do I File A Medical Malpractice Suit In Florida?
If you are injured due to another person’s negligence, and you wanted to sue them, most of the time you would do so under a legal theory called negligence law. One of the exceptions to this rule is when you have been injured in a medical context. Not every medical-related injury is actionable, but sometimes it is possible to bring suit against a medical professional or a hospital over their part in your being hurt. It is important, though, to understand what is considered medical negligence and what is considered acceptable risk or loss.
Specific Requirements Before Filing
In most negligence cases, the only thing that must be done in order to file your lawsuit is to submit the complaint to the courthouse. However, in Florida, medical professionals must be given notice before any kind of suit against them is permitted to proceed. Pre-suit requirements are spelled out in the relevant law, including requiring a written opinion from a “medical expert” in order to corroborate that the claim you seek to put forth is valid and not frivolous. While this seems straightforward, it can be quite difficult depending on the field in which your injury occurred. Some areas of medicine are very close-knit, meaning that any doctor agreeing to state that a colleague or acquaintance might have acted negligently may face professional opprobrium.
If you do succeed in obtaining a medical expert opinion, you may submit your notice and petition with your intent to sue – however, you must wait another 90 days to begin your suit, as by law the medical professional is given that long to investigate your claim and, if desired, to put forth any settlement offers they might wish to extend. If they do not settle or get your case dismissed, only then can your case begin in earnest.
Limits On Your Case
Even if your claim survives the pre-suit investigation phase, bringing a successful medical malpractice lawsuit in Florida is quite difficult due to the limits placed upon your time frame and on your potential award. While every state has statutes of limitations, Florida’s statute governing medical malpractice is on the shorter side, allowing only two years from the date you discovered the injury (or should have discovered the injury) in which you can bring suit – though the statute is tolled, or halted, during the investigation phase, so as not to unfairly penalize the plaintiff.
One thing that has changed significantly in recent months is the existence of caps on non-economic damages in Florida. Until June 2017, Florida capped non-economic damages (damages assessed for inchoate causes of action like pain and suffering or loss of consortium) at $500,000 in medical malpractice cases, arguing that multimillion-dollar verdicts would adversely affect the ability of doctors to do business in Florida. However, the Florida Supreme Court overturned this limit, arguing it was unjust to the most drastically injured patients. As of this writing there has been discussion about reinstating some kind of cap, but no concrete action. Still, it is a factor to keep in mind if you believe you have a good medical malpractice suit to file.
Consult An Orlando Medical Malpractice Attorney
Medical malpractice cases occur far more frequently than most people are aware, but not many are ever pursued to a satisfactory outcome. If you have an experienced attorney on your side, yours may become one of the few. The Orlando medical malpractice lawyers at the Hornsby Law Group can try to answer any questions you may have, and try to help get you on a path to the best possible outcome. Contact the office today to set up an initial appointment.