Fortunately, the United States is one of the most medically advanced countries on earth. However, despite advanced medical technology and technique, doctors sometimes commit medical malpractice. As in just about any profession, doctors may practice in one or more of a number of specialty areas of medicine. The law holds doctors to a standard within their chosen area or areas of practice; specifically, a “standard of care”. In order to bring a medical malpractice suit against a doctor in the State of Florida, a claimant must show (among other things) that there are reasonable grounds to believe that a specific doctor fell below the “standard of care”. Of course, the law also requires that the claimant suffer some type of damage as a result of the medical negligence.
Florida medical malpractice laws are very stringent and require the claimant to satisfy a number of conditions before bringing a medical malpractice suit against a doctor, clinic, or hospital. The time period within which to do is significantly shorter than bringing a simple negligence suit. Within two (2) years of the date of the malpractice, or of the date that the claimant knew or should have known of the malpractice, a medical malpractice claimant must complete a “pre-suit” investigation and place the doctor, clinic, or hospital on notice that the claimant intends to file suit. This two (2) year period of time can usually be extended for an additional 90 days by filing a Petition for Automatic Extension, but even the request for an extension of 90 days must be filed within the two (2) year period.
Therefore, it is vitally important to sit down with a lawyer very soon after you suspect that you may be the victim of medical malpractice. It is also important to remember dates, events, and other things that may help the lawyer in evaluating your claim. It would be helpful to establish a timeline of events in advance of meeting with a lawyer so that the lawyer can best understand the time constraints that surround your potential case. The initial meeting with a lawyer can be, understandably, a very emotional time and it is important to relay as many facts as possible to the lawyer who will be investigating the case.
In many cases, the lawyer may be able to inform the potential client at this initial meeting as to whether in the lawyer’s opinion the doctor’s action or inaction constitutes a deviation from the “standard of care”. However, in most cases, more investigation and a review of the medical chart by a medical professional is necessary. If the client and lawyer decide to proceed in advancing the claim through the required pre-suit process, and potentially, through a legal suit, a medical review and critical opinion by an independent expert physician will be necessary.
It is important to see a lawyer as soon as possible if you feel that you have been the victim of medical malpractice, as the timeframe for establishing your legal claim is very short. At Saunders Law Group, we handle medical malpractice cases and are happy to sit and discuss the details of your particular situation to see if indeed you have an actionable claim.