What Are Presuit Requirements for Florida Medical Malpractice Claims?
Florida has specific requirements in regard to medical malpractice claims that can be confusing for people who might want to file a claim, as well as for attorneys from other states who are representing clients injured by medical negligence in Florida. The following information about these presuit requirements is intended to provide a basic understanding of Florida’s relevant laws and procedures. For a more in-depth analysis relevant to your specific case, please call Paul Knopf Bigger at 855.781.8695.
What Is a Florida Medical Malpractice Presuit Investigation?
Since 1988, Florida has had a presuit investigation requirement stipulating that people seeking to bring a lawsuit against a health care provider for medical negligence must conduct informal discovery before they can file a claim. Pursuant to Florida Statute § 766.203(2), a claimant must “conduct an investigation to ascertain that there are reasonable grounds to believe that” negligent health care or treatment occurred and that the medical negligence injured the claimant.
In practical terms, this stipulation means that prospective plaintiffs must submit a verified written medical expert opinion stating that there are reasonable grounds to support a claim of medical negligence before they can send the required notice of intent to initiate litigation to all prospective defendants. A plaintiff cannot file suit without providing this notice, which is then followed by a mandated 90-day waiting period.
What Does a Presuit Notice of Intent to Initiate Litigation for Medical Negligence Include?
After the presuit investigation is completed, claimants must notify all prospective defendants by certified mail of their intent to initiate litigation (Florida Statute § 766.106(2). A claimant cannot file suit without providing this notice of intent.
The notice must include a list of all health care providers claimants saw in regard to the injuries they are claiming resulted from medical negligence, as well as all health care providers who treated them during the two-year time period immediately preceding the alleged act of negligence.
The notice of intent to initiate litigation must also include copies of the medical records used in the presuit investigation by the medical expert who ascertained that there were reasonable grounds to believe that negligent health care or treatment had occurred and that the medical negligence injured the claimant. In addition, a copy of the authorization for release of protected health information must be provided.
What Is Presuit Discovery and the 90-day Waiting Period for Medical Malpractice Lawsuits in Florida?
After plaintiffs notify prospective defendants of their intent to initiate litigation for medical negligence, Florida Statute § 766.106(3) requires them to wait 90 days before actually filing suit. This waiting period, which begins the day after the putative defendant(s) receive the notice of intent, is intended to give the defendants or their insurers time to review the claim and determine their liability.
The law stipulates that insurers or self-insurers promptly investigate, review and evaluate claims during this 90-day period. The investigation is conducted to determine if there are reasonable grounds to believe the prospective defendant was negligent in the care or treatment of the claimant and the negligence resulted in injury to the claimant.
During this presuit period, both the claimant and the prospective defendant(s) have a statutory duty to cooperate in good faith. Copies of medical records relevant to a potential medical negligence claim or defense must be provided to a claimant or defendant within 10 business days of a request for copies. Discoverable information, such as documents and unsworn statements, should be made available during this informal discovery period.
What Is a Presuit Extension of the Statute of Limitations?
The 90-day waiting period between the day after prospective defendants receive a claimant’s notice of intent to initiate medical negligence litigation and the date a lawsuit may actually be filed tolls the statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases. However, Florida Statute 766.104(2) permits an automatic 90-day extension of the statute of limitations to allow for the investigation required by law to determine if there are reasonable grounds to believe the prospective defendant was negligent in the care or treatment of the claimant and the negligence resulted in injury to the claimant.
No court order is required for the extension to be effective. However, the clerk of the court where the lawsuit will be filed must be petitioned regarding the extension, and a filing fee of not more than $42 must be paid.
How Can Experienced Florida Medical Malpractice Attorneys Help?
The experienced medical malpractice attorneys of Paul Knopf Bigger have a long record of achievements for our clients who have been injured by medical negligence, including many multi-million-dollar settlements and awards. Attorneys throughout the U.S. trust us to handle their clients’ complex medical malpractice claims in Florida, and you too can rely on us to successfully pursue justice on your behalf.
For a thorough explanation of the Florida laws, requirements and procedures related to your specific case, please contact us directly by calling 800-673-9585 or submitting the form on our website. We look forward to talking with you and answering any questions you might have about medical malpractice litigation in Florida.