When Must a Plaintiff Comply with Strict Requirements of a Florida Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?

When a patient is injured after receiving negligent medical care, they may be able to pursue a Florida medical malpractice lawsuit against the medical professionals they believe to be responsible for their injuries. Florida medical malpractice lawsuits, however, are subject to several additional requirements that can be burdensome for many prospective plaintiffs. For example, before filing a medical malpractice lawsuit, a plaintiff must determine that there are “reasonable grounds” for their claim by conducting a pre-suit investigation.

There are several other differences between medical malpractice cases and traditional negligence cases. For example, due to Florida’s medical malpractice damages cap, the number of damages available to medical malpractice plaintiffs are capped at a lower amount than damages in traditional negligence claims. Finally, the stature of limitations in a Florida medical malpractice lawsuit is just two years, whereas the statute of limitations for traditional personal injury cases is four years.

That being said, most Florida injury victims would prefer that their case be classified as one of traditional negligence. However, when a case arises in a quasi-medical setting, defendants routinely try to categorize a plaintiff’s claim as a medical malpractice claim. Depending on the nature of the claim, the stage of litigation, and the amount of time that has passed, this could completely defeat a plaintiff’s chance at recovering for their injuries. A recent case illustrates the types of arguments defendants make in hopes of successfully categorizing the plaintiff’s claim as one of medical malpractice.

According to the court’s written opinion, the plaintiff visited a wellness center to get a massage. While the massage therapist was working on the plaintiff’s neck, the therapist pressed on the vagus nerve. The plaintiff passed out, slipped out of the chair, fell to the ground and hit her head on the floor. The plaintiff sustained serious injuries as a result of her fall. The plaintiff initiated a personal injury lawsuit against the wellness center two-and-one-half years after her injury.

As is the case in Florida, the state where the plaintiff’s case was filed has a two-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits. The wellness center claimed that the plaintiff’s case brought a medical malpractice claim and noted that it was filed more than two years after the incident. The center asked the court to dismiss the case. The court agreed, and the plaintiff appealed.

On appeal, the plaintiff claimed that the services of a massage therapist are not like those provided by a doctor, and that her claim was timely filed as a traditional negligence claim. The court agreed with the plaintiff. The court reasoned that the two-year statute of limitations only applied to cases involving an alleged violation of a “professional” duty.

The court ultimately determined that a massage therapist is not a “professional” under the terms of the statute. In so holding, the court considered several factors but looked primarily at the education and licensing requirements that were necessary to become a massage therapist, noting that massage therapists “do not require long and intensive training or preparation … comparable to that of a college degree.” For that reason, the court determined that the lower court improperly dismissed the plaintiff’s case.

Consult with a Dedicated Florida Injury Attorney

If you or someone you love has recently been injured in a quasi-medical setting, you may not necessarily be bound by the strict rules governing Florida medical malpractice cases. At the Florida personal injury law firm of Friedman Rodman & Frank, we help injury victims and their families pursue claims for compensation based on the injuries they have sustained. We have extensive experience handling both medical malpractice cases and traditional negligence cases. To learn more about how we can help you with your situation, call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation today.

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