A medical malpractice case has to be brought to the court in a timely manner. If you go over the deadline, even in a case in which there is clear negligence and you have obviously been injured, you cannot proceed. This time limit is known as the statute of limitations.
In Florida, the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice case is two years. This is important to note because typical cases involving negligence have a longer limit, set at four years.
There are some exceptions. For example, if there has been an active effort to conceal the issue or if fraud is involved, the statute of limitations is extended to seven years. Additionally, if a child is injured and if that child is eight years old or under, action is not barred by the limit if that action is taken before the child turns eight -- or on his or her birthday.
The reasons for the statue of limitations are many. For one thing, there was hope that it would reduce the cost of necessary insurance. On top of that, officials thought that fewer frivolous cases would end up in court if there was a short window in which to make these claims. On top of that, the law was designed to help promote settlement in these cases.
As you can see, it's very important to know exactly how the legal process has to play out. Don't assume you can always seek compensation if you're injured. Make sure you know the laws, you understand when you need to act, and you explore your options in time.
Source: Flordia Bar Journal, "Florida Medical Malpractice and the Statute of Limitations," Mark R. Osherow, accessed Nov. 30, 2016