We depend on doctors, nurses, hospitals, and other health care providers to honor the duty of care they owe to patients. After all, we seek out health care professionals to help us treat or prevent sickness and injury. When a health care professional makes a medical mistake or otherwise fails to honor the duty of care owed to a patient, the patient may suffer serious physical injuries and emotional harm as a result.
If you were injured because of a health care professional’s mistake or wrongful conduct, or you are the surviving family member of someone who died following a medical error committed by a health care provider, you may be entitled to compensation through a Florida medical malpractice lawsuit. You must act within the allowable time frame, however, or you could lose your right to compensation. Understanding the statute of limitations for Florida medical malpractice cases is the best way to make sure you do not forfeit your right to hold at-fault health care providers accountable for your injuries.
Am I a Victim of Medical Malpractice in Florida?
Doctors, dentists, and other health care professionals are human beings first, meaning they make honest mistakes. If a mistake made by a health care professional was preventable, however, it might serve as the basis of a medical malpractice claim. Medical malpractice is a highly specialized area of tort (personal injury) law that focuses on injuries caused, in whole or in part, by a health care professional. While we tend to think of doctors when the subject of medical malpractice is broached, other health care professionals can also commit medical errors that rise to the level of malpractice, such as:
- Nurses (including nurse practitioners)
- Urgent care facilities
- Nursing homes and other long-term care facilities
What Is the “Standard of Care” for Medical Malpractice in Florida?
Most personal injury lawsuits are based on negligence which requires the injured victim to prove that the defendant breached a legal duty of care owed to the victim. When the defendant is a health care professional, the law imposes a special “standard of care” on the defendant. Codified by Section 766.102 of the Florida Statutes, the prevailing professional standard of care for a health care provider in Florida is defined as “that level of care, skill, and treatment which, in light of all relevant surrounding circumstances, is recognized as acceptable and appropriate by reasonably prudent similar health care providers.” In practical terms, this means that an injured victim must prove that another health care professional with the same training, skills, and experience would not have made the same error or mistake.
Understanding the Statute of Limitations for Florida Medical Malpractice
A medical malpractice victim, or surviving family member, must understand and be aware of the applicable statute of limitations to ensure that the right to pursue the at-fault party (or parties) is not unintentionally waived. The term “statute of limitations” refers to the maximum time a Plaintiff (person filing the lawsuit) has to file a lawsuit. State law determines the statute of limitations for each type of lawsuit. In the State of Florida, Florida Statute Section 95.11(7)(b) sets the statute of limitations for medical malpractice at two years from “the time the incident giving rise to the action occurred or within two years from the time the incident is discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence.” Florida’s statute of limitations for medical malpractice also includes a “statute of repose” that bars a Plaintiff from commencing a lawsuit if it has been more than four years from the date of the incident or occurrence unless the victim is a minor, in which case a lawsuit must be initiated before the child’s eighth birthday.
If you have not initiated a lawsuit by the time the statute of limitations expires you have effectively waived your right to pursue compensation for your injuries. Florida law also requires a mandatory presuit screening process before a lawsuit can ever be filed. To make sure you do not give up your right to compensation it is imperative that you consult with an experienced Orlando medical malpractice attorney immediately if you suspect that a health care professional committed a preventable error. The complex nature of medical malpractice claims frequently makes it difficult for a victim to know with certainty that malpractice occurred. It can also be intimidating to contemplate filing a lawsuit against a doctor, hospital, or other health care provider. Consequently, victims of medical malpractice often hesitate to pursue legal action and end up losing the right to do so because the statute of limitations has expired. To avoid finding yourself in that situation, let an experienced medical malpractice attorney review your case if you have any reason to believe that you were injured because a health care professional committed a preventable error.
How Can Orlando Medical Malpractice Lawyers Help Me?
At Bailey Fisher, we have seen the physical, emotional, and financial devastation that can be caused by medical malpractice. If you were injured, or lost a family member, as a result of a preventable medical error, an experienced Orlando medical malpractice attorney at Bailey Fisher can help. It is crucial, however, that you consult with an experienced attorney before the statute of limitations expires to ensure that your right to recover compensation is protected and that the at-fault party (or parties) is held accountable.
Call us at 407-628-2929 or submit our online form today. One of our experienced Orlando medical malpractice lawyers will evaluate your case for free and advise you on the next steps.