Extending the Statutes of Limitations and Repose in Medical Malpractice Matters
Putting one’s trust into the hands of his/her medical professional is a leap that all patients must make when receiving medical care. In most cases, these medical professionals, as a result of their training, experience, and expertise, are able to perform their jobs admirably. However, they, like their patients, are also human, and are susceptible to making mistakes. And, in some cases, those mistakes cause injury. Retaining the services of an experienced medical malpractice attorney can help recover some of the damages incurred from injuries caused by the mistake of the medical professional. However, there are various timelines by which a medical malpractice matter must be initiated against a medical professional, and the failure to initiate a matter prior to the expiration of these deadlines is typically fatal to the plaintiff’s claim. Recently, two Connecticut sisters sued on behalf of their deceased mother, claiming that the failure to report a growth as potential cancer caused her death. Although the defendants attempted to argue that the action was filed beyond the expiration of the statute of limitations, the sisters won on appeal with the argument that the statute of limitations should not start until the cancer has been confirmed as a diagnosis, and that the failure to report the growth when first noticed should not count against the decedent’s estate. A discussion of statutes of limitation and repose in Florida, and how they can be extended to sustain a medical malpractice claim for a longer period, will follow below.
Statutes of Limitation and Repose
Each State sets its own limits on the time by which one can bring a legal action against a defendant, including in medical malpractice matters. In Florida, all medical malpractice matters must be commenced within two years from the time the allegedly negligent action occurred or within two years of the time it was discovered or should have been discovered as a result of due diligence. This is referred to as the statute of limitations.
Additionally, Florida has a statute of repose that also must be met. According to this law, no medical malpractice matter may be commenced more than four years from the date the allegedly negligent action occurred. This four-year limitation, however, is not applicable in matters brought on behalf of a child on or before his/her eighth birthday. Practically, the statute of repose means that any allegation of medical malpractice, at the latest, must be brought within four years of the date of the incident.
Extensions of the Statutes
Florida law, however, does provide for an extension of the statutes of limitation and repose in certain situations. Specifically, in actions in which it can be shown that fraud, concealment, or an intentional misrepresentation of fact prevented the discovery of the injury, the statute of limitations is extended for two additional years from the time that the injury was discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence. Additionally, the statute of repose in such cases is extended, and provides that no action may be brought later than seven years from the date the incident giving rise to the injury occurred. Further, the above child exception remains. Thus, in these limited situations, the statute of limitations is effectively four years, and the statute of repose is seven.
Seek Legal Advice
If you suffered an injury as a result of an interaction with a medical professional, contact the attorneys at Pita Weber & Del Prado as soon as possible. We have experience in medical malpractice law, and this experience will help us review the facts of your case to determine whether a claim for medical malpractice is viable. If so, we will help devise the best strategy to ensure you get the compensation you deserve. Contact our Miami office today for an initial consultation.