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Florida Court Discusses Statute of Limitations in Recent Medical Malpractice Lawsuit

Recently, a Florida appellate court addressed the statute of limitations in Florida medical malpractice lawsuits. The appeal stemmed from a complicated medical malpractice case involving the birth of a baby born with brain injuries, allegedly because of negligent care by a hospital and physician. Following delivery, doctors told the parents of the baby that their child needed to remain in the hospital for an additional 10 days because of an infection. Before releasing the baby, the hospital performed a head ultrasound and reported that the findings were unremarkable. In the months following discharge, the plaintiff suspected that something was wrong with her child because he was not meeting developmental milestones.

For approximately the next year, the mother took the child to various specialists, all of whom diagnosed the baby with other mild and common conditions. However, in 2011, the family retained an attorney, who filed a petition with NICA, Florida’s Birth-Related Neurological Injury Compensation Association, on behalf of the child. It was not until the baby was three years old that a doctor diagnosed him with spastic cerebral palsy, which is typically caused by a lack of oxygen during delivery. With this information, the family filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the hospital and physician. The hospital filed a motion for summary judgment, arguing that the statute of limitations barred the case.

Generally, under Florida law, medical malpractice lawsuits must abide by the state’s two-year statute of limitations. The two years begin to run from when the patient knew or should have known that an injury occurred because of medical malpractice. Additionally, the state’s statute of repose provides that, barring exceptional circumstances, health care professionals cannot be liable for medical malpractice more than four years after the incident occurs. There are specific exceptions to this statute, which are relevant when there are incidents of fraud, misrepresentation, or concealment.

In this case, there was an issue concerning the date when the plaintiff knew that there was a reasonable probability that her child’s injuries resulted from medical malpractice. Under Florida law, determining knowledge is fact-specific and remains a jury question. However, the law maintains that suspecting wrongdoing is not enough to meet the knowledge requirement. Here, the defendants argued that the statute of limitations began to toll when the woman requested medical records, and therefore, the case was barred. However, the court held that there was a genuine issue of material fact regarding when the plaintiff possessed knowledge of a potential birth injury. Ultimately, the appellate court reversed the trial court’s summary judgment ruling in favor of the defendants and remanded the case for a new trial.

Have You Suffered Injuries Because of a Negligent Florida Medical Provider?

If you or someone you know has suffered injuries because of the negligence of a Florida medical professional, you should contact the attorneys at Friedman, Rodman & Frank, P.A. The attorneys at our law firm have a reputation built on successfully representing victims of birth injuries and other forms of medical malpractice. We have recovered substantial amounts of compensation on behalf of our clients. Compensation in Florida medical malpractice lawsuits typically includes payments for medical expenses, lost wages, loss of consortium, and pain and suffering. Contact the lawyers at our office today to schedule a free initial consultation with one of our experienced medical malpractice attorneys. Contact us at 877-448-8585.

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