News channel WWLTV reported recently on a Children’s Hospital admittance to a mistake that cost five young patients their lives. The hospital confirmed that the patients contracted a fatal fungus from bed linens at the facility. In other words, these wrongful deaths could have been prevented.
The fungal infection, called mucormycosis, killed the five children five years ago. Each child was already fighting serious diseases before being infected. The outbreak stretched over a one-year period between 2008 and 2009. Since determining the source of the outbreak the hospital has undergone sterilization procedures and thrown out the old linens. The hospital has also changed linen vendors.
What’s remarkable is that the families of these dead children were not told the cause of the untimely deaths until recently. In fact, the hospital only apologized to the victims’ survivors this month, after keeping them in the dark for years.
Statutes of Limitations Generally
This delay in information disclosure brings up a very important question for these families: does their only finding out the cause of their loved ones’ deaths at this late date affect their ability to hold those who are responsible accountable for their actions. This is an issue medical malpractice attorneys deal with in every case.
Laws that set the time limits for when a lawsuit can be brought are called statutes of limitations. They are different in every state, and are different for every kind of case. Not all types of legal cases are governed by a statute of limitations. For example, in many states, the government can bring charges against someone for murder no matter how much time has passed since the crime was committed. However, in areas of civil law, there is usually some time limit involved.
Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations in Florida
The statute of limitations for medical malpractice in Florida is governed by state statute. In most cases, any lawsuit for personal injury or wrongful death against a doctor, dentist, nurse, or hospital arising out of their care for a patient must be filed within two years of the date when the plaintiff (person suing) either knew, or through the use of reasonable diligence should have known, or received written notice of the existence of the injury or death. There is a limit, however. Even if the plaintiff does not know about the injury for years, there is an absolute limitation of four years from the date of the malpractice or seven years in unique cases where fraud or intentional misrepresentation is present.
Interestingly, there is an exception in this law for children. If the person entitled to sue over malpractice is under 8 years old when the malpractice happens, he or she has until their 8th birthday to file suit
What this all means is that the timelines are very short in medical malpractice cases. If you or a loved one has been wronged or may have been wronged by a medical practitioner or hospital, it is in your best interest to speak with a licensed attorney sooner rather than later. The legal professionals at Fetterman & Associates can educate you on your rights and help you begin filing a claim today. Call us at 561-845-2510 for a free consultation.
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