Bove v. Naples HMA – Florida Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations

Civil injury lawsuits have a limited shelf life. There is only so much time one has to file or else forever lose the chance. doctor6

The amount of time depends on a number of factors, including the type of case, where it’s being filed and whether you knew or had reason to know about the injury and/or cause of it right away.

In medical malpractice lawsuits, the statute of limitation in Florida holds that the case must be filed within:

  • Two years from the time the incident was discovered or should have been discovered;
  • No later than four years from the date the action occurred;
  • No later than seven years in cases of fraud, concealment or intentional misrepresentation of fact that prevented discovery of the injury within that four-year period.

The bottom line is those pursuing injury litigation need to act quickly. Two years may sound like a substantial amount of time, but consider too there are additional notice and filing requirements for medical malpractice lawsuits that demand extra time. For example, claimants in medical malpractice lawsuits must file a notice of intent with the defendant before a lawsuit can be filed. Additionally, plaintiffs have to have an affidavit from at least one (though probably more) expert witnesses in hand before they can file; these affidavits have to attest to the professional opinion that defendant breached the accepted standard of care for his or her professional field.

This kind of evidence takes time, and as the recent case of Bove v. Naples HMA shows us, a case that is filed down to the wire may not work out well for plaintiff.

According to court records, a man died on Feb. 26, 2012 after suffering an internal bleed after doctors performed a biopsy of bone marrow on him. After the bleed was discovered (but before patient died),patient was evaluated by a physician who determined the bleed was co-morbid, meaning it was occurring in conjunction with other underlying medical ailments.

Patient’s widow (later the plaintiff) met with an attorney in July 2012, though it wasn’t until February 2014 that she received copies of letters from two medical experts who opined her husband’s death had been caused by the internal bleed resulting form the bone marrow biopsy.

On Feb. 25, 2014 — the day before the two-year anniversary of her husband’s death — plaintiff filed a notice of intent to pursue litigation to the doctors who had conducted and overseen her husband’s bone marrow biopsy. However, this notice was not received until March 4, 2014. The notice stated the two-year time frame “would begin to run from the from the date of (decedent’s) death,” and indicated this was the date the family discovered the negligence of defendants.

This proved a critical error.

She later filed her wrongful death lawsuit, and defendants responded with motions to dismiss because the statute of limitations had expired. Trial court granted.

On appeal, Florida’s Second District Court of Appeal affirmed, noting that although there was a case to made that plaintiff did not discover the negligence until months after her husband’s death, she had specifically stated in her notice of intent that the clock on statute of limitations started ticking on the date of her husband’s death — and she filed the lawsuit too late to meet that deadline. The court ruled that, “generally, parties are bound by the negligence in their pleadings.”

If you have been a victim of a traffic accident, call Chalik & Chalik at (954) 476-1000 or 1 (800) 873-9040.

Additional Resources:

Bove v. Naples HMA , April 1, 2016, Florida Second District Court of Appeal

More Blog Entries:

Liability of Car Owners for Car Accident Injuries, April 2, 2016, Miami Medical Malpractice Lawyer Blog