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Statute of Limitations in Medical Malpractice Cases

Ocala Lawyers for Victims of Negligence by Health Care Providers

If you suspect that you’ve been the victim of medical malpractice, it is wise to consult an experienced attorney right away. Often memories fade and evidence can be lost or misplaced over time. There is a statute of limitations that dictates how much time you have to bring your claim. The statute of limitations is a law that specifies the time period within which you can sue for medical malpractice. Waiting past the expiration of the statute of limitations will result in your claim being barred, so it is critical to take action as soon as you realize you’ve been harmed by doctors or other health care providers. The statute of limitations in medical malpractice cases is two years from when you knew or should have known by using reasonable diligence that you’d been injured and it was reasonably possible the injury was caused by medical malpractice. A skilled Ocala medical malpractice attorney can help you assess how this rule may impact your individual case.

Statute of Limitations in a Medical Malpractice Case

Statutes of limitations are enacted to make sure lawsuits are brought within a reasonable time frame. This allows peace of mind after a certain amount of time has passed, and it also limits lawsuits to those that are fresh enough that the witnesses can remember what happened and evidence is retained so that the jury can make a fair decision. Florida’s statute of limitations in medical malpractice cases is two years, but there are exceptions and nuances that make it advisable to consult a seasoned medical malpractice attorney about your particular set of facts.

The statute of limitations typically starts running two years from when a patient (or in some cases a guardian or family member) knew or should have known with the use of reasonable diligence that there was an injury, and that it was reasonable to think medical malpractice had caused the injury.

The two-year window can be challenging because it’s not always clear when you “knew” there was an injury, and sometimes that knowledge came on a different date than did the reasonable belief that medical malpractice may have caused the injury. Many Florida judicial decisions interpret what is needed to have “knowledge” of an incident such that the statute of limitations starts running from a particular date.

The Florida statute of limitations is within section 95.11, which states that a medical malpractice case must be started within two years from the date of the medical malpractice itself or within 2 years from discovering the medical malpractice with the use of due diligence. It also states that under no circumstances will a medical malpractice lawsuit be started later than 4 years from the date of the incident or occurrence that forms a basis for the medical malpractice lawsuit. However, there are legal concepts that can alter the statute of limitations. Generally, claims accrue when the last element that constitutes a cause of action happens. So, even if you knew there was an injury, if you didn’t know there was a reasonable possibility that it was caused by medical malpractice, the later date should apply.

Statute of Limitations for Children

There is an exception to the four-year statute of repose period for children. With regard to children, a four-year limit doesn’t work to bar a child’s medical malpractice lawsuit before his or her eighth birthday. However, the two-year statute of limitation can bar the lawsuit before that if a child’s guardian or parents knew or with the use of reasonable care should have known about the injury to the child and the reasonable possibility that malpractice caused the injury. There’s an extension, in other words, for the statute of repose but not for the statute of limitations, so whichever one expires first bars the claim.

Fraud Exception

There is an exception to the statute of limitations for fraud. Where intentional misrepresentations or concealment stopped a patient from discovering the injury, the statute of limitations will be extended forward two years from the time the injury is discovered or should have been discovered through the use of due diligence. In no event should this be more than 7 years from the date the incident giving rise to the injury occurred.

Dedicated Medical Malpractice Attorneys for Ocala Residents

At the Dean Law Firm, our skillful trial lawyers understand how devastating the consequences of medical malpractice can be. If you were injured or a loved one died because of a health care provider’s conduct in Ocala, it is important to consult an experienced attorney well before the statute of limitations expires. Our legal team handles medical malpractice claims throughout Florida, including in Crystal River and The Villages, as well as Lake, Marion, Sumter, Levy and Citrus Counties. Call us at 352-387-8700 or contact us through our online form.