Pre-Suit Notice Requirements Complicate Florida Medical Malpractice Claims

The procedural requirements for successfully pursuing a Florida medical malpractice claim may be complicated and confusing to victims of medical malpractice. Plaintiffs must be sure they are pursuing a case in the proper venue against any appropriate defendants. Additionally, plaintiffs must initiate their claim within the statute of limitations period and also meet several pre-suit notice requirements that can appear frivolous. These procedural requirements are far from frivolous, however, because a plaintiff’s failure to fulfill any of the requirements could be permanently fatal to their claim, irrespective of whether the defendant committed malpractice or not. A recent opinion published by the Florida District Court of Appeal discusses the issue of pre-suit notice requirements of a Florida medical malpractice claim.

The plaintiff in the recently decided suit received treatment from the defendant after suffering injuries while incarcerated. According to the facts discussed in the appellate opinion, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant committed medical malpractice by making mistakes during a surgery performed on the plaintiff, which caused permanent damage. The plaintiff pursued a medical malpractice claim against the defendant based on the alleged negligence.

Florida law requires medical malpractice plaintiffs to meet certain pre-suit notice requirements in order to have their claims heard by the court. In addition to other notice requirements, plaintiffs must notify each defendant by certified mail that they are being sued for medical malpractice and include an authorization form to release the plaintiff’s medical records for the upcoming suit. If these notices are not properly sent to each defendant within the two-year statute of limitations for a Florida medical malpractice claim, a plaintiff’s suit can be dismissed without any analysis of their actual claims.

Before filing suit, the plaintiff in the recent case mailed a notice to the hospital where the surgery was performed and addressed it to the defendant. The defendant alleged he is not an employee of the hospital where the notice was sent and that he did not receive any notice at his actual address within the two-year statute of limitations. He asked the trial court to dismiss the case. The trial court granted the defendant’s motion, finding that he was not an employee of the hospital where the notice was sent and that he was not sufficiently put on notice before the statute of limitations expired, as required by statute.

The plaintiff appealed the ruling to the state court of appeals, where it was reversed. The high court found that the question of whether the defendant was an employee of the hospital at the time the treatment was rendered was a question of fact, and it should not have been decided by a motion to dismiss. Although the dismissal was reversed, the plaintiff’s claim may still be barred at a later stage if it is determined that he did not comply with the pre-suit notice requirements.

Do You Have Questions About a Medical Malpractice Claim

If you or a loved one believes that you’re a victim of medical malpractice, pursuing a claim can be difficult and intimidating if you do it alone. Doctors and insurance companies have large legal teams dedicated to defending against malpractice claims. Malpractice defense teams will do all they can to avoid the question of wrongdoing, often relying on complicated procedural rules to get cases dismissed before a jury is able to hear what happened to the patient. If you have questions about a possible claim, get in touch with a skilled South Florida medical malpractice attorney with Friedman, Rodman Frank & Estrada, and we can help you have confidence that your claim will be heard, and that you will receive the compensation that you deserve. Our skilled negligence attorneys have successfully tried and settled many Florida medical malpractice claims, and you can rest easy knowing your case is in good hands. Call our office at 877-448-8585, or contact us online to schedule your free, confidential consultation.

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