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Florida Medical Malpractice Law Requires Extensive Presuit Investigation
In an effort to reduce the number of frivolous medical negligence claims filed in the state, the Florida legislature placed a number of roadblocks that can prevent or delay the filing of medical malpractice lawsuits. Our Tampa medical malpractice lawyers believe that one of the most significant barriers involves extensive presuit requirements, which can add months of delays for individuals who have suffered harm due to medical negligence.
Without Investigation, Victims Cannot File Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
It is logical to expect the parties on both sides of a medical malpractice lawsuit to conduct detailed investigations, but the Florida presuit investigation statute requires all investigations to be conducted before the courts accept any given case. Consider the following:
- The claimant must conduct an investigation to substantiate claims of medical malpractice before submitting a Notice of Intent to file a lawsuit.
- With some exceptions, the Notice of Intent must contain a written medical expert opinion, which can be refused if the expert does not meet a series of strict requirements.
- Upon receipt of the Notice of Intent, the defendant begins another investigation to confirm or deny liability in a response. While the response may include a settlement offer or a request for arbitration, the defendant can also reject the Notice of Intent, which must include its own written medical expert statement.
It is not inconceivable that this process can go back and forth for some time, almost as if the courtroom process is replaced by what amounts to a written debate. Additionally, while the parties are not required to present all the details in their case, they will provide enough information to give the opposition a good idea of what to expect as they develop their case.
Expert Witnesses Must Qualify to Attest to Standard of Care Issues
Before obtaining medical expert opinions, attorneys representing the claimant and the defendant must conduct additional investigations to ensure that the expert meets the strict requirements imposed by Florida statutes. Under these requirements, all experts used in the case must have significant recent experience within the medical specialty that is involved in the prospective lawsuit, in addition to having no legal conflicts pertaining to prior testimony in other cases.
The overall goal is to make sure medical experts have the capacity to comment on medical issues based on the prevailing professional standard of care. In other words -- they need the skills and experience necessary to attest to how well the defendant's actions resembled how others in the same field would operate under the same conditions.
Finding medical experts who qualify to comment on a case is almost like conducting a second investigation apart from the circumstances behind the negligence claim. With more than three decades of experience litigating these complex claims, the medical malpractice attorneys at Alley, Clark & Griewe understand the strict requirements of Florida law and maintain a network of qualified medical experts to help move these cases forward. If you believe you sustained injuries caused by medical negligence, call us at 813-222-0977, or use our online contact form to find out how to get started on your claim.