When we go to the doctor’s, we like to believe that they will do their best to treat us with the utmost care. However, doctors are only human and can make mistakes that can result in severe injury or even death. A recent study suggests that medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the U.S., according to John Hopkins Medical. Medical malpractice lawsuits are more complicated than the many other kinds of lawsuits that are filed every day in courtrooms across the United States. If you think that you might have a valid medical malpractice claim, there are several things you need to know before filing a complaint.
Time Limits for Filing a Medical Malpractice Claim
It is essential to keep in mind the time limits associated with medical malpractice lawsuits. In Florida, you must initiate your lawsuit within two years of discovering the injury, when you should have reasonably identified the injury, or at the latest within four years after the malpractice happened. This means that even if you could not have discovered the injury within four years, a judge may decide to bar your suit if you initiate it after four years. The major exception to this rule is if the health care provider fraudulently concealed the malpractice.
Required Notice of Medical Malpractice Claims
Before you can begin to initiate your claim, as a resident of Florida you have to serve the healthcare provider with a notice of your intent to file a complaint. The notice must include an affidavit written by another medical professional that states you have a valid claim for medical malpractice, according to the Medical Malpractice Center. Once you’ve served the provider with the notice, a 90-day settlement process is started that will place a temporary hold on the time limit to file the claim. If during the 90-day settlement process, the health care providers decide they don’t want to settle, then you’ll have another 60 days, or the remainder of the time limit to file your claim.
Caps on Damages for Medical Malpractice Claims
Depending on a variety of factors, Florida law provides for different damage caps on medical malpractice claims. The caps only apply to non-economic damages such as mental anguish and pain and suffering. The damage caps can vary depending on whether you are filing a claim against a medical practitioner, like a doctor, a non-practitioner, like a healthcare corporation. In Florida, lawsuits against medical practitioners are capped at $500,000 for non-economic damages, while the cap for claims against non-practitioners increases to $750,000 for non-economic damages. Visiting GoldwaterLawFirm.com can help you to understand the specific damage caps related to your case.
If you have been injured due to a medical practitioner’s negligence and you suspect that you might have a medical malpractice case, it is important to start collecting the documents that are related to the case, in particular, your medical records. Due to the complex nature of medical malpractice lawsuits, it is highly advisable that you find an experienced attorney to help you navigate the process.