Understanding Medical Malpractice Statute Of Limitations
The statute of limitation ruling enforces a time limit to file certain types of lawsuits. Otherwise, you could lose your right to legal recourse. It’s extremely important attorneys for medical negligence do not exceed the statutes of limitations on behalf of their clients’ claims.
Medical malpractice lawsuits abide by statutes of limitations too, but there are a couple of nuances particular to this area of the law that make them different from the statute of limitations applied in most other personal injury lawsuits. In most other lawsuits (excluding medical malpractice) the injury is obvious, but in medical malpractice cases, the injury is not always visible or may take months or years to present itself.
It used to be that if the patient’s injury was discovered after the statute of limitations expired, the patient was unable to pursue a medical malpractice claim. As a result, many patients were treated unfairly and denied any type of compensation because they didn’t discover their injury until years after the negligent incident happened.
Because of the injustice associated with the statute of limitations in regard to medical malpractice, some states started using a “discovery rule”. Under this rule, the statute of limitations period begins when the injury is discovered, or the patient (or his or her physician) reasonably should have discovered it.
Like every rule, there’s a little bit of gray area. In this example, it comes with the phrase “reasonably should have discovered.” What does that mean exactly? Here’s an example:
Suppose a doctor performed surgery and left a piece of medical equipment inside the patient. Let’s also say that the patient had lots of pain in that area and could feel something hard sticking out but didn’t go back to the doctor. Warning lights should have gone off that this was a serious medical problem, and the patient should realize something is wrong. Any reasonable person would go to a doctor and have the problem diagnosed. This would be the point at which the statute of limitations would begin to run, since the symptoms should be enough for a reasonable person to realize that something was wrong.
Medical Malpractice Statutes of Limitation in Florida
When it comes to medical malpractice, the statute of limitations varies by state. In Florida, it works like this:
2 years from the date of the negligent act, or 2 years from the time the injury was discovered or reasonably should have been discovered. However, a lawsuit cannot be filed more than 4 years after the date of the negligent conduct. An exception applies to an action filed on behalf of a minor on or before the child’s eighth birthday. If the patient can prove that discovery of the injury was prevented by fraud, then the limitations period is lengthened to 2 years from the time of discovery of the injury.
Should I Consult an Attorney?
If you start your medical malpractice claim after the statute of limitations has run out, the case will be thrown out. Applying the medical malpractice statute of limitations to a given set of facts in Florida can be tricky. There are some relevant exceptions that could impact your case. If you are trying to decide whether or not it’s too late to bring your case to court, consult an experienced Florida medical malpractice lawyer at Wolf & Pravato without delay!
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