What Is Florida's Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations?

By , J.D. · University of San Francisco School of Law

Laws known as "statutes of limitations" set time limits on your right to go to court and file a lawsuit against someone. Every state has these laws on the books, and different kinds of lawsuits have different deadlines.

Two-Year/Four-Year Deadline for Filing Medical Malpractice Lawsuits

You can find Florida's statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits at Florida Statutes section 95.11(4)(b). This law says that you must file a medical malpractice lawsuit within two years after you discovered the alleged medical error, or after you should have discovered it through "due diligence."

There is also an outside deadline of four years from the date of the alleged medical malpractice, regardless of when you actually discovered the harm or should have done so. However, there are exceptions to this four-year deadline for fraud and for cases involving very young children. Also, the two-year deadline may be extended under certain circumstances, as discussed below.

Extended Statute of Limitations When Medical Malpractice Was Covered Up

If the medical provider prevented you from discovering the medical error through fraud, concealment, or intentional misrepresentation about the facts, the statute of limitations is extended two years from the time you finally learned of the injury or, at the latest, seven years after the incident.

Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice Involving Young Children

A medical malpractice claim brought on behalf of a young child may be filed after the expiration of the four-year deadline (or the seven-year deadline in cases of fraud), as long as it's filed before the child's eighth birthday.

Extension of Deadline to Conduct Investigation Into Medical Malpractice

When you file a medical malpractice lawsuit in Florida, your lawyer must attach a certificate swearing that the attorney has conducted a reasonable investigation into your case, and that as a result, the lawyer has a good-faith belief that the grounds for medical malpractice exist in your case. If you need more time for this step, you may file a petition for an automatic 90-day extension of the statute of limitations, as long as the deadline hasn't already passed.

Pause in Statute of Limitations After Notice of Intent

After your attorney has conducted the investigation, Florida law requires that you serve the defendant(s) with a notice that you intend to sue for medical malpractice. That notice sets off a 90-day period for the defendant to evaluate and respond to your claim. The statute of limitations is paused (or "tolled" in legalese) during that period; in fact, you aren't allowed to file your lawsuit until the 90 days is up.

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