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In Florida, the process of filing a cerebral palsy lawsuit must follow the state laws. If you plan to take legal action on your child’s behalf, whether for discrimination or medical malpractice, it’s crucial to understand this often confusing process. It’s also important to rely on an experienced cerebral palsy lawyer who knows the laws and has proven wins for similar clients.
Types of Lawsuits You Can File in Florida for Cerebral Palsy
As the parent of a child diagnosed with cerebral palsy, you may have several legal decisions to make, now and in the future. In general, there are two main types of lawsuits that you may consider filing on behalf of your child to seek justice, to recover damages, and to ensure access and opportunities equivalent to those of other children:
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Medical Malpractice Lawsuits
A medical malpractice lawsuit can be filed if you believe that a doctor or other medical professional failed to provide you or your child with the appropriate and adequate care expected in such a situation and if that failure led to your child’s disabilities. This is one of the most common types of cerebral palsy lawsuits.
Discrimination and Disability Rights Cases
If your child or your family faces discrimination because of disabilities or is not getting access to needed services or opportunities, you may file a complaint. This is the typical way to handle a discrimination situation, but you also have the right in Florida to take private action that presents a lawsuit against those responsible.
How to File a Florida Cerebral Palsy Malpractice Case
The process of filing this kind of case depends on state laws. Every state sets its laws for how malpractice lawsuits are presented and how they proceed. Know the steps, beginning with the statute of limitations, to have the best chance of a possible outcome.
- Statute of Limitations. The statute of limitations on most Florida malpractice cases is two years from when the negligence occurred or two years from when it was discovered. However, minors are an exception, so you have up until your child’s eighth birthday to start the process. 
- Affidavit of Merit. Florida law requires that you submit an affidavit of merit when filing a malpractice lawsuit. This is a signed statement from a qualified medical expert.  It states that this individual has seen the evidence against the defendants and believes your allegations have merit. The state’s requirements for qualified experts are specific and stringent, so you need a lawyer with the right connections to find someone who fits the bill.
- Complaint Response. After your complaint against defendants has been filed by your lawyer, along with the affidavit, the defendants must respond. They will most likely deny liability, so be prepared for that outcome.
- Investigation. If the defendants do deny liability, the case will proceed. Both sides will investigate the incident and your allegations. Your lawyer will continue building evidence and finding experts to testify on your behalf.
- Damages. As the case proceeds, you and your lawyer will discuss how much to seek in damages. Florida capped non-economic damages in 2003, but the state Supreme Court overturned that cap, declaring it unconstitutional. You are free to claim as much as you believe you are owed. To help make the estimation, provide your lawyer with all documents related to cerebral palsy expenses.
- Settlement Negotiation. With both sides building cases, your lawyer will try to enter into a negotiation for a settlement to avoid trial. Many defendants choose to settle because it is less costly than losing in court.
- Trial. Your lawsuit will go onto trial if a settlement agreement cannot be reached. A jury will hear both sides and make a decision and award damages, although either party can appeal that decision.
How to File a Discrimination Complaint in Florida
Federal and Florida laws prevent discrimination in housing, public access, and employment.  Federal laws that ensure disabled children receive a free and appropriate education.  If any of these rights are violated, you may need to file a complaint or sue.
Most complaints go to the Florida Commission on Human Relations. You’ll file your claim here unless a federal law better applies to your situation. For instance, if your local public bus doesn’t have room for your child’s wheelchair, your right to open access is being denied.
The process goes from complaint to mediation. A mediator assigned to your case will try to resolve the issue. If this doesn’t work, the Commission will investigate the incident and decide as to whether or not your child has experienced discrimination.
You may also want to file a lawsuit, which is allowed under Florida law. This can result in compensation for your child. Your lawyer can help guide you through the process of a civil lawsuit.
How to Find a Florida Lawyer for the Cerebral Palsy Lawsuit Filing Process
Choosing the Florida cerebral palsy lawyer who will take you through this process is a big and important decision. Look for a lawyer who specializes in medical malpractice or disability rights and who has proven experience working with clients like your family. You have every right to ask questions and to get references before hiring your legal team.
Filing a lawsuit for cerebral palsy in Florida can be confusing. It can all feel overwhelming, but doing so is worthwhile. You have the chance to win compensation for your child, money that will help provide care and treatment. Let the right lawyer guide you through the process, and you have a good chance of success.
- Medical liability/Malpractice statutes of limitation. (2014, March 20). Legislative News, Studies and Analysis | National Conference of State Legislatures.
Retrieved from: https://www.ncsl.org/research/financial-services-and-commerce/medical-liability-malpractice-statutes-of-limitation.aspx
- Medical liability/Malpractice merit affidavits and expert witnesses. (2014, June 24). Legislative News, Studies and Analysis | National Conference of State Legislatures.
Retrieved from: https://www.ncsl.org/research/financial-services-and-commerce/medical-liability-malpractice-merit-affidavits-and-expert-witnesses.aspx
- Statutes & constitution. The 2019 Florida statutes. (n.d.). Official Internet Site of Florida Legislature.
Retrieved from: https://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0760/0760.html
- Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). (n.d.). Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. U.S. Department of Education.
Retrieved from: https://sites.ed.gov/idea/