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How long do I have to file a claim against a doctor in Florida?
There are specific timelines when it comes to filing a lawsuit. When it comes to medical malpractice in Florida, these claims have to be brought typically within two years. This means that you have two years from the discovery of the incident to bring a claim. There is one catch, however. If you do not discover the malpractice within four years, you are barred from making a claim. So, let’s say that you have a surgery and the surgeon left something inside of your body which wasn’t supposed to be there, but you don’t discover it until five years after the surgery, you cannot bring a claim. You are forever barred by the statute of limitations. Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule. If you were a minor at the time of the malpractice, or if there was fraud or concealment involved in the malpractice, your timelines may be extended for filing a claim.
What is a certificate of merit, and do I have to obtain one in Florida?
Some states require a certificate of merit before you will be allowed to bring a medical malpractice claim. A certificate of merit is prepared by an expert, typically a physician, who looks over the medical documentation and will tell you whether your claim has merit. If they determine it has merit, you will have to file the certificate of merit. This will then allow you to put the potential doctors on notice of any claims that you may be intending to bring against them.
What happens when you decide to move forward with a medical malpractice case?
Your attorney should begin by ensuring that you have a valid claim and that the claim can be made within the statute of limitations. If you are running close to the end of the statute, your attorney can file a petition in the court where the alleged malpractice occurred to extend that statute of limitations by 90 days. Meanwhile, your attorney should begin getting with a doctor to get an opinion and affidavit stating that malpractice did occur. Once you know that malpractice did happen and it has been verified by a professional in the same or similar field, you can put the potential defendants on notice that you intend to make a claim for medical malpractice. They then have a certain amount of time to investigate the claim themselves. If no settlement is reached during that time frame, a lawsuit will typically be filed soon thereafter. Your attorney should also be gathering all of your medical records, both current and past, to make sure that they are prepared and understand your medical history.