Florida Court Explains When the Procedural Requirements for Medical Malpractice Cases Apply

The Florida justice system sees hundreds of thousands of cases each year. Many of these cases are medical malpractice cases. Essentially, a medical malpractice case is a claim of medical negligence, alleging that, but for the medical professional’s negligence, the plaintiff would have avoided the harm that they suffered.

In an effort to make sure that the court system is able to handle each case with the individual attention it deserves, and to ensure that both sides are treated fairly, Florida lawmakers have come up with a series of procedural rules that must be followed in all medical malpractice cases. When these procedural rules are not followed, a medical malpractice plaintiff may lose their ability to bring their case. However, the procedural steps are only required when the plaintiff is bringing a medical malpractice suit.

Pierrot v. Osceola Mental Health, Inc.

In the recent case, Pierrot v. Osceola Mental Health, Inc., a Florida court had the occasion to explain when the procedural requirements for medical malpractice cases apply. The basic facts are as follows: A pregnant woman was involuntarily committed to a mental health facility (Osceola Mental Health) after she told witnesses that she was suffering extreme abdominal pain. After the woman was taken to the hospital, the staff failed to properly care for her and she died a few days later. The plaintiff in this case then filed suit under the “Baker Act”

The trial court dismissed the case against the hospital because, in the court’s determination, this was a medical malpractice suit, and the plaintiff had failed to follow the pre-suit requirements to all medical malpractice suits.

Pre-Suit Procedural Requirements to All Medical Malpractice Claims in Florida Only Apply to Actual Medical Malpractice Suits

Ultimately, the appellate court determined that the medical malpractice requirements did not apply because the claim was not a true medical malpractice claim, but was a claim under the Baker Act, a separate cause of action. However, the court did explain that the pre-suit requirements only apply when 1) the claim is for actual medical malpractice, and 2) the claim is against a healthcare provider.

Here, the court found neither fact present. First, the court determined that the claim was not for medical malpractice, but was for the enforcement of a statutory right under the Baker Act. Second, the court found that the mental health center failed to prove that it was, in fact, a health care provider under the terms of the medical malpractice statute. Therefore, the court of appeals reversed the lower court’s decision to dismiss the case and the plaintiff was allowed to bring the case forward.

Are You in Need of a Medical Malpractice Attorney?

If you or a loved one has recently been the victim of what you believe may be medical malpractice, you should speak with an experienced Florida medical malpractice attorney as soon as possible. Depending on the facts of your case, you may be eligible for a significant monetary award. Click here, or call 352-387-8700 to discuss your case with a dedicated Florida personal injury attorney.

More Blog Posts:

Florida Plaintiff Almost Loses Opportunity to Recover Based on Sloppy Filings, Ocala Injury Lawyers Blog, published March 31, 2014.

Florida Court Corrects Arbitrator’s Error of Law in Recent Court of Appeals Case, Ocala Injury Lawyers Blog, published March 31, 2014.

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