Undergoing any kind of heart surgery is a frightening prospect. Virtually all patients consider what might go wrong, asking themselves questions like: What if the operation is unsuccessful? What if there’s an anesthesia error? What if my surgeon makes a mistake? What if there’s an infection?
The thought of an error occurring during heart surgery is enough to keep anyone awake at night. If this nightmarish scenario has become a reality for you or a member of your family, you may be entitled to damages from the liable healthcare provider or facility.
There are, however, strict deadlines for filing medical malpractice lawsuits in Florida. This deadline, often referred to as the “statute of limitations,” is usually two years from the date of the error. If you try to bring your case to court after the statute of limitations has passed, it will almost certainly be dismissed.
Exceptions to the Two-Year Statute of Limitations
Under some circumstances, a patient or his/her surviving family members can file a heart surgery malpractice lawsuit even if the two-year deadline has passed since the incident. For example, the Discovery Rule may apply in cases when the surgical error was not immediately known. In this scenario, the statute of limitations would be two years from the date of discovering the cause of action.
In most cases, however, a malpractice lawsuit cannot be filed after more than four years have passed since the error—even if it took several years to discover the error. This four-year limitation does not apply to cases brought on behalf of children before or on their eighth birthday.
A different deadline will apply if the surgery took place at a government hospital. You must submit a written notice of the claim and allow for a 180-day investigation to take place. If your claim is denied, you must file the lawsuit within three years of the date of the surgical error, or two years if the claim involves wrongful death.
When Should I Start the Proceedings?
It may seem as though you have plenty of time to file your claim. However, there are numerous advantages to starting the proceedings right away. This is because:
- Some evidence may be time-sensitive, so it’s important that your lawyer can perform the investigation as soon as possible.
- Anything you say or do during the proceedings may impact the outcome of your claim. Once you hire an attorney, he or she will take over all relevant correspondence so you don’t provide any statements that would harm your case.
- Gathering evidence, undergoing the necessary medical evaluations, and completing other tasks can take several months. If you wait too long to start the process, your lawyer might not have sufficient time to ensure your case is as strong as possible.
Call an Attorney for Help Navigating the Deadlines of a Heart Surgery Malpractice Lawsuit
If you or someone you love was a victim of medical negligence, contact Emerson Straw for a free consultation. We can answer any questions you have and help to explain the deadlines for filing a heart surgery malpractice lawsuit. If you decide to hire our law firm for representation, we will use all the resources at our disposal to fight for the settlement you deserve. Call (727) 821-1500 or send us a message to speak with a member of our team.