Medical Malpractice – Statute of Limitations

A victim of medical negligence may bring a medical malpractice claim against care providers, but must make the claim within the Florida statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is a time frame in which a victim must file a claim. If the allowable time limit expires and no claim has been filed, the claim is time barred and the victim will never be permitted to pursue legal action.

The Florida Statute of Limitations for malpractice claims is set in Florida Statute 95.11. According to the relevant law, a legal claim for damages arising out of medical malpractice must be commenced (filed) within two years of the time when the incident of medical negligence occurred OR within two years of the time when the malpractice was discovered or should have been discovered.

There are many situations where an act of medical negligence is not discovered immediately. For example, if a doctor left a surgical instrument inside of a patient, the patient may not find this out until several years later. This is why the statute of limitations allows claims to be filed within two years of the time when the medical negligence either is discovered, or should have been discovered through reasonable due diligence.

A victim of malpractice does not, however, have the ability to make a claim many decades down the line after an incident of medical negligence, even if the error is not discovered until then. The Florida statute of limitations requires all actions for medical malpractice to be commenced or filed within four years from the date of the incident of medical negligence.

The only exceptions to this maximum four year limit are if the medical negligence affected a child and occurred prior to the child’s eighth birthday, or if there is proof that fraud or intentional misrepresentation prevented the medical error from being discovered.

If there is proof of fraud, concealment or intentional misrepresentation, the victim has a maximum of seven years to bring a claim, but the claim still has to be filed within two years of the time the incident was discovered.

For example, if an incident of negligence occurred in in 2010 and intentional concealment resulted in the incident not being discovered until 2014, the victim would have until 2016 to bring the claim — two years from the time the incident was discovered. However, if the incident was not discovered until 2016, the victim would have until 2017 to make a claim, seven years total from the time of the negligence.

A Florida medical malpractice lawyer can provide assistance to victims in determining the deadline for making a case for medical malpractice and can help victims to make their claim within the statute of limitations.