Over the years as a medical malpractice attorney in Ocala, Florida, I have learned that there are several common but avoidable mistakes made by victims of medical negligence. These mistakes often reduce and can eliminate an individual’s chances of success in medical negligence litigation.
First, victims of medical negligence need to seek legal counsel immediately. Many people wait far too long to see an attorney after malpractice occurs and end up losing their right to sue because of the delay. In Florida, the Statute of Limitations for a medical malpractice claim is only two years from the date that the victim knew or should have known that medical negligence took place, whichever is later.
Although two years seems like a long time to bring a claim, it is not in the medical malpractice context. Often, it takes four or five months for medical malpractice lawyers to compile a client’s medical records and then find medical experts to review them prior to initiating litigation. Consequently, many attorneys will not take good medical negligence cases even when they arise within the two year Statute of Limitations because of the complexity of claims and the length of time it takes to prepare and file a lawsuit. Therefore, the quicker you seek legal counsel, the higher the likelihood that your legal claim will be pursued.
Another common mistake made by potential medical malpractice clients is not asking for and keeping copies of medical records when or soon after medical services are rendered. This simple step can greatly speed up case review by an attorney and will reduce costs significantly.
Furthermore, it is always preferable for a patient to request copies of their medical records from a healthcare provider as opposed to a records request coming from a lawyer’s office. In my experience, healthcare providers that receive a records request from a lawyer’s office are immediately alerted that a lawsuit may be coming. When this happens, healthcare providers often consult with defense attorneys and begin taking steps to defend potential legal claims before they begin. As a result, the patient’s advantage of surprise is often lost. By requesting copies of your records when medical treatment is rendered, you have the records in your possession for quick review and avoid alerting healthcare providers that they may be sued in the future.