Although initiating a lawsuit should be essentially the same regardless of the subject matter involved, many types of cases do require that a plaintiff engage in specialized procedures or risk having his or her claims lost. Among the most important of these specialized procedures in Florida is the pre-suit notice and investigation scheme for medical negligence cases provided by Section 766.106 of the Florida Statutes. This notice and investigation process is the subject of a recent decision from Florida’s Third District Court of Appeals, Salazar v. Coello.
To provide background, Section 766.106 requires that a plaintiff with a putative medical negligence claim conduct a pre-suit investigation, after which he or she must, prior to filing a complaint, notify each of the prospective defendants of his or her intent to initiate litigation. The statute further requires that the plaintiff provide, if available, a list of the following along with the notice: 1) all health care providers the plaintiff has seen for the injuries of which he or she has complained subsequent to the purported act of medical negligence; 2) all health care providers the plaintiff has seen in the two years prior to the alleged act of negligence; 3) copies of all medical records on which the expert providing an affidavit in support for the plaintiff’s claim has relied; and 4) a standardized authorization form. Suit may not be filed for 90 days following delivery of this notice, and during this 90-day period the defendant or its insurer are supposed to conduct a review of the claim and determine possible liability. Importantly, during this 90-day investigative period the statute of limitations is tolled against all potential defendants.