What Is a Notice of Intent in Medical Malpractice Claims?
When you visit with a doctor or other healthcare professional, you do so with the intention of getting better. Unfortunately, when physicians, nurses, or other medical professionals fail to provide the standard of care, you or someone you love may suffer significant injury, adverse reactions, or even death as a result of medical errors.
A medical malpractice lawsuit offers an opportunity to recover compensation for the losses that may result from negligent caregivers. Depending on the details of your case, you may be eligible to recover damages for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
The Orlando medical malpractice lawyers at Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter have seen the devastating impacts of medical malpractice firsthand. We are committed to helping victims of medical malpractice pursue the maximum compensation to which they may be entitled under the law.
Under Florida law, individuals and families cannot simply file lawsuits for medical malpractice. Instead, they must take a number of preliminary steps, one of which is submitting a Notice of Intent to their healthcare provider.
What Is a Notice of Intent?
In medical malpractice cases, a Notice of Intent is a written warning that a patient or family is planning to file a medical malpractice lawsuit. The requirement to provide a Notice of Intent exists under Section 766.106 of the Florida Statutes, which states:
“After completion of presuit investigation pursuant to s. 766.203(2) and prior to filing a complaint for medical negligence, a claimant shall notify each prospective defendant by certified mail, return receipt requested, of intent to initiate litigation for medical negligence.”
Florida’s Notice of Intent requirement is intended to serve two purposes. The first is preventing frivolous lawsuits. By requiring patients and families to take steps before they can file a lawsuit, the law makes it harder to pursue claims that are not legally justified.
The second is facilitating out-of-court settlement negotiations. If a patient or family goes through the process of conducting a presuit investigation (more on this below) and preparing a Notice of Intent, this makes it far more likely that the patient or family has a valid claim. Healthcare entities and medical malpractice insurance companies take this into account when considering how to respond to allegations. This does not mean that all medical malpractice claims in Florida will result in settlement, but it does mean that there is a higher likelihood of settlement in most cases.
Section 766.106 establishes a number of requirements for a valid Notice of Intent. For example, a Notice of Intent must include:
- “[A] list of all known health care providers seen . . . for the injuries complained of subsequent to the alleged act of negligence;”
- “[A]ll known health care providers during the 2-year period prior to the alleged act of negligence who treated or evaluated the claimant;” and,
- “[C]opies of all of the medical records relied upon by the expert [who certifies that the patient or family has reasonable grounds to initiate a medical malpractice claim].”
What Is a Presuit Investigation?
As referenced in the quote from Section 766.106 above, prior to submitting a Notice of Intent, a patient or family seeking to file a medical malpractice lawsuit must first conduct a “presuit investigation.” The requirements for this presuit investigation appear in Section 766.203 of the Florida Statutes:
“Prior to issuing [a Notice of Intent], the claimant shall conduct an investigation to ascertain that there are reasonable grounds to believe that: (a) Any named defendant in the litigation was negligent in the care or treatment of the claimant; and (b) Such negligence resulted in injury to the claimant.”
In addition, a patient or family seeking to file a medical malpractice claim must obtain “a verified written medical expert opinion from a medical expert” that corroborates the findings of the presuit investigation. Section 766.203 establishes specific requirements for this expert opinion as well.
Conducting a Presuit Investigation and Preparing a Notice of Intent
In order to establish your right to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, you will need to work with an experienced medical malpractice attorney. A lawyer who regularly represents individuals and families in these cases will be familiar with Florida’s legal requirements, and will have relationships with medical experts who can assist with conducting a presuit investigation and providing an expert opinion. Your medical malpractice attorney can also prepare your Notice of Intent, submit it in accordance with the requirements of Section 766.106, and then negotiate for a settlement on your behalf (or take your medical malpractice claim to court if necessary).
There are strict deadlines for submitting Notices of Intent and filing medical malpractice lawsuits. Your medical malpractice attorney can help make sure you meet these deadlines—as long as you get started in time. If you believe that you may have a claim for medical malpractice, we encourage you to contact us promptly for a free initial consultation.
Call an Orlando Medical Malpractice Attorney for Free
Do you have a medical malpractice claim? To find out, schedule a free initial consultation with one of our Orlando medical malpractice attorneys today at (407) 712-7300. Colling Gilbert Wright & Carter proudly serves clients from across Florida, including Orlando, Tampa, Miami, and other areas.