In order to bring a medical malpractice lawsuit in Florida, a Plaintiff must first follow very strict pre-suit requirements. If these requirements are not strictly followed, the Plaintiff may be barred from bringing a lawsuit.
A simplified explanation of the pre-suit requirements is below:
- The attorney must first conduct an investigation to verify that there are reasonable grounds to believe that a medical professional was negligent and that the negligence resulted in injury to the claimant;
- The attorney must gather the medical records from health care providers and review these documents;
- The records must be sent for review to a medical expert who is a “similar health care provider”;
- The expert must execute a “verified written medical expert opinion,” essentially an affidavit in which a doctor swears he or she has reviewed the records and believes there are reasonable grounds to proceed;
- The attorney must then file a “Notice of Intent to Initiate Litigation for Medical Negligence,” and attach the expert affidavit. The Notice of Intent to Initiate Litigation for Medical Negligence is a document that contains the names of the prospective plaintiffs and defendants and a summary of the claim and injury. This notice must be sent to each prospective defendant, and in some cases, to state agencies.
- Then, there is a 90-day “pre-suit investigative period” during which the parties exchange written questions, requests for documents and items, and take unsworn statements.
- At or before the end of the 90 days, the prospective defendant can either (1) reject the claim, (2) make a settlement offer, or (3) make an offer to arbitrate in which liability is deemed admitted and arbitration will be held only on the issue of damages. Under this third scenario, the amount of money recoverable for the plaintiff’s pain and suffering is severely limited by statute.