Florida Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Cases

When a someone is injured due to the negligence of a medical professional, they may be entitled to recover compensation for their injuries through a Florida medical malpractice lawsuit. All Florida personal injury lawsuits, especially medical malpractice lawsuits, are subject to strict procedural requirements that must be followed. One of the most commonly encountered hurdles that Florida medical malpractice plaintiffs face is the timeliness requirement embodied in the statute of limitations.In Florida, medical malpractice cases must be brought within two years of the date of the injury. In some cases, that timeframe can be extended if the plaintiff is young at the time of the injury or does not discover the injury until a later date. However, even under these circumstances, time is still of the essence because Florida’s statute of repose prevents a lawsuit from being filed more than four years after the injury unless there has been fraud or concealment.

A recent case illustrates how courts determine when a victim’s claim accrues – or when the clock starts ticking.

The Facts of the Case

The plaintiff suffered from knee pain and saw the defendant surgeon for treatment. The surgeon performed three surgeries on the plaintiff’s knee:  one in 2007 and two in 2008. After the first surgery, the plaintiff noticed little improvement. After the second, the plaintiff was still experiencing chronic knee pain but was not sure if it was just an expected part of the surgery. Finally, after the third surgery, the plaintiff was still experiencing pain and decided to see another doctor.

Upon visiting the other doctor, the plaintiff was informed that the defendant made an error when performing one of her previous surgeries and that this may be the cause of her pain. The plaintiff filed a medical malpractice lawsuit against the defendant in 2012, about five years after the initial surgery.

The plaintiff claimed that she did not know that the surgery performed by the defendant was the cause of her pain until she saw a different doctor. According to the plaintiff’s timeline, her case would be within the statute of limitations. However, the defendant claimed that the plaintiff knew she was in pain and had an idea that it was because of the surgery well before she was told that was the case by the second doctor. According to the defendant’s timeline, the plaintiff’s case would have been filed too late.

The court determined that since there was conflicting evidence, summary judgment was not appropriately granted in favor of the defendant, and a jury should decide if the plaintiff’s case was timely. Here, the court explained, there was conflicting evidence regarding the plaintiff’s knowledge of the origin of her pain. If the plaintiff was to be believed, she did not know about the origin until recently, and her claim was appropriately filed. However, if the defendant’s version of the facts is accepted, the plaintiff’s case will be time-barred. The court held that the issues that needed to be resolved were factual in nature, and thus a jury – rather than the judge – should resolve them.

Have You Been a Victim of Medical Malpractice?

If you or a loved one has recently been a victim of what you believe to be negligent medical care, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Florida medical malpractice lawsuit. The skilled South Florida injury attorneys at the law firm of Friedman, Rodman & Frank have extensive experience representing their clients in a wide range of medical malpractice cases, including surgical errors and misdiagnoses. To learn more, and to speak with an attorney about your case, call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation.

More Blog Posts:

Court Reverses Jury’s Verdict Based on Lack of Evidence Showing the Defendant Knew about Hazard that Caused Plaintiff’s Fall, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published November 27, 2017.

Student’s Premises Liability Case Against School Dismissed Based on Lack of Causation, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published December 5, 2017.

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