Florida’s Special Discovery Rule for Diagnosis Errors Cases

When compared to the statutes of limitations other US states impose in personal injury lawsuits, Florida’s deadline is relatively long. For all actions based upon negligence, such as car accidents and slip and falls, the victim has four years to file a lawsuit in court. The clock starts to run on the date of the accident, and the person loses the right to sue if the time restriction expires. There is a special statute of limitations for medical malpractice actions, however. The deadline is shorter, so you have two years from the date of the incident giving rise to the cause of action. 

The statute of limitations creates a tricky situation with a specific type of med mal case in which a healthcare provider misdiagnoses the patient. The clock could run out on the two-year deadline, which is why lawmakers provided the “discovery” rule in the statute of limitations. A Miami diagnosis errors attorney will describe how the law applies to your situation, but there are a few things to know.

How the Discovery Rule Works

The default statute of limitations for med mal cases is two years, as measured from the date the incident giving rise to the action occurred. When a surgeon leaves a sponge inside a patient, or a doctor prescribes the wrong medication, the start of this time period is obvious.

However, the law provides an alternative that works to the advantage of patients who suffered from a diagnosis error: The discovery rule allows two years from the date the incident is or should have been discovered through proper diligence. At the outer limit, the deadline expires at four years. Another provision in the statute of limitations applies to children who suffer from medical negligence. A child who sustains birth injuries has until eight years old to file a lawsuit.

Common Misdiagnosed Medical Conditions

Studies have revealed that there are certain ailments that healthcare providers frequently misdiagnose – so frequently that they have earned the nickname the “Big Three.” Cancers, vascular disease, and infection account for 75% of all diagnostic errors.

Do NOT Wait Until the Deadline Approaches

Knowing that you have additional time under the discovery rule should not be an excuse to wait to take legal action. This extension may not even apply when the date of the harm is easy to establish; if it was not, you are still held to the standard of exercising due diligence. In addition:

  • If you delay exercising your remedies, your compensation is also delayed.
  • Memories of potential witnesses may fade.
  • In some cases, evidence could deteriorate.
  • You could benefit others by pursuing a doctor who has a pattern of negligence or misconduct.

A Miami Diagnosis Errors Lawyer Will Advise You on Other Requirements

Our attorneys as Gerson & Schwartz, PA, are well-versed in the discovery rule and all other legal requirements for misdiagnosis cases. To learn more, please call (305) 371-6000 or go online to schedule a free consultation at our offices in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, or West Palm Beach.

Florida Justice Association
The National Center for Victims of Crime
outh Florida Legal Guide
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