If you believe you have a medical malpractice case, there are a few things you should keep in mind, including various deadlines and timelines, steps you need to take before you can file for malpractice, and information on the types of legal rewards you’re eligible to receive. With Florida med mal cases, there are multiple things to keep track of in order to seek compensation for medical negligence. In this article, we cover what you need to know when preparing to file a medical malpractice claim.
After reading this blog post, if you still have questions about the timelines and required preparation for medical malpractice cases, contact Sowell and Chakour today. You can reach us by phone at 1-833-MedMals (633-6257), by email at DrChakour@sowellchakour.com, or by filling out our convenient online contact form.
I Have a Deadline to File My Med-Mal Claim?
Quite a few laws show up in malpractice cases, including the statute of limitations. A statute of limitations establishes the time in which you have to file a legal claim. In Florida, you have two years to file a claim against the medical professional whose negligence led to your injury.
However, the statute of limitations clock doesn’t always start after the moment the injury occurred. Notably, the “Discovery of Harm” Rule (or the “discovery rule”) is meant to extend the statute of limitations for patients who discover the injury after the initial two years have passed. For example, imagine a patient who had surgery on January 23, 2017. After going to another doctor for pain on February 12, 2019, she discovered via an X-ray that her pain was the result of a surgical bandage left inside of her from previous surgery. This discovery could change her deadline to file.
In Florida, the Discovery of Harm Rule extends the statute of limitations up to four years. If our hypothetical patient had found the bandage after four years, the case would be thrown out. The only exception to this rule, in the state of Florida, is if an intent by the original medical provider to conceal the injury is discovered. For instance, if the patient above had an X-ray that found the left-behind bandage in February 2021 and had proof the original doctor fraudulently concealed the bandage to thwart her discovery of the injury, she could still have a case.
Medical malpractice suits can be tricky, so it’s always best to speak with an experienced medical malpractice attorney to understand your legal options.
Filing a Notice-of-Intent in Florida Med Mal Cases
Before you can file a med mal claim, you need to file a notice of intent to inform the medical practitioner that you intend to sue him. This notice includes an affidavit of merit from a medical professional validating your medical malpractice claim.
From there, the process remains complex. A 90-day settlement process begins, where the medical professional chooses to pay the settlement or not. The statute of limitations is paused during these 90 days. If the medical provider chooses not to pay, the plaintiff, depending on which timeline is longer, has 60 days or the remaining statute of limitations to file suit. Your med mal lawyer will help you manage the deadlines of your case.
The question of if the healthcare professional will settle is up in the air. Because of the transparency associated with med-mal settlements, doctors who settle often see significant insurance rate increases. This risk sometimes propels the doctor to take his chances in court. Additionally, providers that insure professional liability and malpractice also have a propensity to go to trial rather than pay out settlements. The process of filing a med mal suit is legally complicated, so having an experienced malpractice lawyer on your side throughout this process is highly recommended.
Is There a Limit on the Compensation I Can Receive for my Med-Mal Case?
Florida previously enforced caps on non-economic medical malpractice rewards, which included:
- A $500,000 cap for non-economic injuries, like pain and suffering or emotional trauma, against many types of health professionals
- A $1,000,000 cap for non-economic damages if the malpractice caused the injury that led to death or severe brain damage that resulted in the patient remaining in an indefinitely comatose state
In 2017, the Florida State Supreme Court ruled that these damage caps were unconstitutional, stating that the restrictions “arbitrarily reduce damage awards for plaintiffs who suffer the most drastic injuries.” At the time of writing this article, the ruling has put an end to limits on non-economic compensation in medical malpractice cases.
There is no cap on economic damages a plaintiff can seek in Florida. Economic damages include:
- Past, current, and future medical bills
- Loss of wages
- Loss of earning potential
- Rehabilitation cost
- Physical therapy expenses
- Other economical expenses that you’ve incurred as a result of your injury
Next Steps: Consult a Med-Mal Lawyer
Reviewing the facts of your case with an experienced attorney is the next step. Here are some tips to prepare for your initial meeting with your med mal lawyer:
- Create a list of all medical providers who have treated you for the condition related to your claim
- Create a written summary of your medical treatment journey, related to your med mal injury
- Collect all relevant documentation; this could include medical bills, medical records, proof of lost earnings (such as pay stubs or tax records), photos displaying your injury, contact information for your health insurance provider, etc
- Make a list of all questions you have for your lawyer
- Determine what you are seeking in a med mal lawyer
The overwhelming frustration of suffering an injury due to a formerly trusted medical professional’s negligence is a lot to handle. Not to mention your compounding medical bills and other expenses as a result of attempting to resolve your injuries. Know that you have rights, and we are here to protect those rights. If you believe you have a med mal case, call Sowell and Chakour today to review the facts of your case and get the process of recovery started. Give us a call today at 1-833-MedMals (633-6257), email us at DrChakour@sowellchakour.com, or fill out our online contact form.
The information in this blog post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice. You should not decide whether or not to contact an attorney based upon the information in this blog post. No attorney-client relationship is formed, nor should any such relationship be implied. If you require legal advice, please consult with an attorney licensed to practice in your jurisdiction.