How Much Time Do You Have to File a Medical Malpractice Suit?
Medical errors seem to be happening with increased frequency. According to one study, they are now the third leading cause of death in the United States. Even if a patient survives a medical mistake, he or she can suffer serious injuries, including the pain and cost of needing corrective surgery.
At our firm, we receive many questions from the public. One common question involves the amount of time they have to file a lawsuit against a doctor or other medical professional. To answer that question, we will look at the relevant Florida statute of limitations.
Generally, You Have 2 Years to Sue
Florida’s statute of limitations sets out the maximum amount of time a patient has to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit. According to Fla. Stat. 95.11(4)(b), most patients will have 2 years. The clock starts ticking from the date the patient knew, or reasonably should have known, that they were injured by a medical error.
Here is a simple example. Caryn goes in to have her left breast removed. When she wakes up out of anesthesia, she realizes that the wrong breast was operated on. Caryn knows from this point that she has been injured by medical malpractice, so she has 2 years from this date to sue.
In other situations, the 2-year clock won’t immediately start ticking. For example, a patient might receive a prescription drug that ultimately causes cancer. However, 18 months pass before she finds her first tumor and realizes based on research that the prescription drug she received could be to blame. In this example, the clock doesn’t start until the patient has realized she has been injured by a medical error.
The Right to Sue is Cut Off after 4 Years
Florida also has a statute of repose. This statute cuts off the ability to sue regardless of when a patient discovered that he or she had been the victim of negligence. Currently, the statute of repose is 4 years. So if a patient received medication that caused cancer but didn’t discover the tumor for 6 years, then she can’t sue.
There are exceptions to the statute of repose. For example, if the case involves concealment, fraud, or intentional misrepresentation, then the statute of repose is 7 years. The theory is that doctors and others shouldn’t be protected if they lied or used other underhanded tactics to keep a patient from uncovering medical malpractice.
Children Have Different Deadlines
Children get more time to sue for medical malpractice injuries. In particular, you can bring a case by the child’s eighth birthday for injuries suffered when he or she was younger. If your child is older, than the statute of limitations provisions discussed above apply.
Contact a Coral Gables Medical Malpractice Attorney
The statute of limitations creates an incentive for injured patients to bring claims in a timely manner. If you suspect a careless doctor or other medical professional has injured you, contact Halpern Santos & Pinkert, P.A. Our firm has more than 6 decades of experience and hundreds of satisfied clients. Our Florida medical malpractice attorneys offer a free consultation to those who reach out to us today.