Important Florida Medical Malpractice Statutes
Whether you have personally been injured by medical malpractice or you are an attorney representing someone injured by medical negligence in Florida, knowing the relevant state statutes can help you decide on the best course of action. The laws discussed on this page provide basic information about what constitutes medical malpractice in Florida, what kinds of damages a claimant can recover, the statute of limitations, and who can serve as an expert witness in Florida medical malpractice cases. Other relevant requirements, including the statute of limitations, the statute of repose, presuit investigations and presuit extensions, are explained on subsequent pages of this website.
What Constitutes Medical Malpractice in Florida?
Florida Statute § 766.102(1): The Prevailing Standard of Care
Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor or other healthcare provider breaches the prevailing professional standard of care and that breach causes injury to a patient. A claimant seeking damages for the death of a victim or for personal injury due to medical negligence must demonstrate that the death or injury resulted from care that did not meet the level of care “reasonably prudent similar health care providers” deem acceptable.
When patients are injured by a healthcare provider’s failure to provide the accepted standard of care or by the outcome of a professionally accepted medical intervention that is not within the scope of the “necessary or reasonably foreseeable results” of the intervention (§ 766.102(2)), they have the right to take legal action to recover economic and non-economic damages.
What Types of Damages Can Be Recovered in a Florida Medical Malpractice Lawsuit?
Florida Statute § 766.202: Definitions
A victim of medical negligence has the legal right to sue for compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. Florida Statute § 766.202(3) defines economic damages as financial losses that occurred because of the injury. Medical expenses, lost wages and decreased or lost earning capacity are examples of economic damages.
Non-economic damages, defined in § 766.202(8), are nonfinancial losses that occurred because of the injury. These damages are more subjective than economic damages, including things such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, inconvenience and loss of capacity for the enjoyment of life.
Who Can Be an Expert Witness?
Florida Statute_§ 766.102(5)
Medical malpractice cases rely on expert witnesses to testify that the prevailing professional standard of care was breached and clarify how it was breached. Therefore, delineating who qualifies as a medical expert is crucial. Section 766.102(5) of the Florida Statutes does this by stating that anyone who gives expert testimony about the prevailing professional standard of care must be a health care provider who has a valid license and who conducts a thorough review of the relevant medical records.
The law further stipulates that if the defendant is a specialist, the expert witness must practice in the same specialty and have been engaged in clinical practice, consulting, clinical research, or instruction in an accredited educational or clinical research program in the same specialty during the three years immediately preceding the alleged act of medical negligence.
If the defendant is a general practitioner, the expert witness must have been engaged professionally in one of the aforementioned capacities as a general practitioner during the five years immediately preceding the alleged occurrence of medical malpractice. Finally, if the defendant is a health care provider who is not a general practitioner or specialist, then the expert witness must have been engaged professionally in one of the aforementioned capacities in the same or similar health profession during the three years prior to the date the alleged medical malpractice occurred.
What Other Requirements Must Be Met to File a Medical Malpractice Claim in Florida?
The Florida statutes relevant to medical malpractice include procedural requirements that make filing a claim more difficult than in many other states. An understanding of the laws and procedures related to initiating medical negligence litigation is crucial to navigating successfully through the presuit process.
Having won numerous complex medical malpractice cases in Florida, the experienced medical malpractice attorneys of Paul Knopf Bigger are very familiar with the requirements and limitations imposed by Florida law. In subsequent pages, we provide a brief overview for potential claimants and out-of-state attorneys who want a basic understanding of the Florida requirements, including:
- Presuit Investigation – An investigation required prior to initiating a claim to determine if there are sufficient grounds for believing that medical negligence occurred and that it caused injury to the claimant.
- The Notice of Intent – A notice sent to all potential defendants letting them know of the claimant’s intent to initiate litigation for medical negligence.
- The Waiting Period and Presuit Discovery – A 90-day waiting period after the Notice of Intent to sue is issued designed to give defendants a chance to investigate.
- Presuit Extension – A 90-day extension of the statute of limitations automatically granted to those who ask for it to allow time for the presuit investigation.
- The Statute of Limitations – The Florida statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases is 2 years from the date the medical negligence occurred, was discovered or should have been discovered.
- The Statute of Repose – The statute of repose imposes an absolute 4-year deadline on initiating medical malpractice actions, regardless of when the medical negligence was discovered, except in the case of children under the age of 8 or in cases of fraud, concealment or intentional misrepresentation of the facts.
How Can Experienced Florida Medical Malpractice Attorneys Help?
For a more complete explanation of the laws and procedures relevant to your case, we suggest contacting us directly by calling 800-673-9585 or submitting the “What Can We Help You With?” form on our website. We welcome the opportunity to talk with you and address your questions and concerns about medical malpractice litigation in Florida.
We have a long record of achievements in this area, including many multi-million-dollar settlements and awards won to help victims of medical malpractice get their lives back on track. Lawyers throughout the state and across the country rely on our team of proven trial attorneys to successfully handle their clients’ complex medical malpractice claims. You too can trust us to put our expertise and resources to work pursuing justice on your behalf.