What is the Florida Statute of Limitations Personal Injury?
How long do you have to file a lawsuit?
What should you know?
In this article, we will break down the legal concept of the Florida Statute of Limitations Personal Injury so you know all there is to know about it!
Keep reading as we have gathered exactly the information that you need!
Let’s dig into our statute of limitations laws!
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Let’s get started!
Table of Contents
Florida Statute of Limitations Personal Injury
What does “statute of limitations” mean?
What should you know about the Florida personal injury laws as it relates to the statute of limitations?
Why does it matter?
A person suffering damages due to the negligence, carelessness, acts, or omissions of another can file a lawsuit to get compensation for their losses.
This law segment is known as tort law or torts representing civil claims intended to get financial compensation and relief.
However, a person suffering damages cannot wait eternally before filing his or her lawsuit.
In most cases, there is a “time limit” or “deadline” for the person to file legal action against the person responsible for causing the damages.
In this context, any person suffering personal injuries or bodily damages must be familiar with the applicable laws to ensure that a lawsuit or a claim is filed within the legally mandated deadlines (also known as the statute of limitations).
Otherwise, the person’s recourse may be time-barred and no longer permissible in law.
There are different ways a person may suffer damages, such as:
- Car accident or auto accident
- Motor vehicle accident
- Motorcycle accident
- Truck accident
- Wrongful death
- Bike accident
- Pedestrian accident
- Nursing home abuse
- Construction accidents
- Gross negligence
- Willful misconduct
- Dog bite
- Assault and battery
- Catastrophic injury
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Burn injury
The list can go on and on.
We have put together this article to guide you on the various aspects of the Florida laws you should be aware of to make better and more informed decisions about filing an insurance claim or filing a lawsuit.
This article is by no means a legal opinion or legal advice but intended to give you an overall and general picture of the Florida rules and regulations.
For any legal advice or to answer any specific legal matters involving your case or an actual personal injury matter you are faced with, you should contact a personal injury lawyer (also known as trial lawyers) for guidance.
The content of this article should be taken as a rough guide or high-level map to bring you awareness but you are responsible for ensuring you verify the specifics of your case and the applicable deadlines relevant to your specific case.
The laws continually change, and we strive to keep your content up to date.
Again, don’t rely strictly on this article to make decisions but make sure you do further due diligence on your case with the right legal advisors and counselors.
With that “disclaimer” being said, let’s dive right in.
Standard statute of limitations personal injury
Legally speaking, when a person suffers damages or injuries, the law will set out a certain timeline within which the person must file a legal action or lawsuit against the party at fault.
That’s referred to as the statute of limitations.
Like all other states, Florida has statutes of limitations governing the deadlines within which a person must file a lawsuit in a civil court for personal injury.
The general statute of limitations for personal injury in Florida requires that you file a personal injury lawsuit within four years from the date of the accident (Section 95.11(3) of the Florida Statutes Annotated).
However, you must keep in mind that different laws may impose other deadlines for filing a lawsuit depending on the nature of the injury or accident.
For example, in Florida, medical malpractice laws have a different statute of limitations than the general personal injury cases.
It’s also worth mentioning that you may suffer an injury that “appears” after the accident in some cases.
In certain cases, the statute of limitations deadline can be extended.
We’ll go over that later in this article, so be sure to keep reading.
Specific civil injury statute of limitations
Depending on the nature of the accident and the type of civil lawsuit filed, you may be confronted with different deadlines to file your civil injury action.
In Florida, most civil actions require that you observe the standard timeline for filing a personal injury claim.
To put things in perspective, here is a high-level list of some of the applicable Florida civil injury statute of limitations:
- Medical malpractice statute of limitations is of 2 years
- Assault and battery statute of limitations is of 2 years
- Product liability statute of limitations can range between 2 years and 4 years
- Wrongful death statute of limitations is of 2 years
- Workers’ compensation statute of limitations is of 2 years
- Dog bites or dog-related injuries 4 years and 2 years of the accident results in death
- Construction accidents statute of limitations are 4 years and 2 years of the victim dies
- Nursing home abuse statute of limitations is similar to medical malpractice with a repose period of 6 years instead of 7
- Slip and fall injury lawsuits must be filed within 4 years
Based on the above, for instance, if you suffer injuries due to a healthcare professional’s medical fault, you must file your lawsuit and sue the defendant within two years from the day the damages were suffered.
If not, you will be barred from filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against the at-fault defendant.
Start of deadline to file lawsuit
One crucial question to ask is: when does the statute of limitations deadline start?
What constitutes the point in time where the legal clock starts ticking?
As you may have guessed, this is a crucial element for any personal injury lawsuit.
Missing deadlines can be catastrophic for a victim of an accident.
If you miss your legal deadline, your action will be considered as lapsed, expired, or time-barred.
The point in time when the statute of limitations clock starts running may depend on a few factors:
- Date the injury was suffered (accident)
- Date the victim discovered the harm or injuries (discovery)
- Events beyond the victim’s control that prevented them from taking action (tolling)
Let’s look at them quickly.
Date of accident
In most cases, the statute of limitations deadline will start as of the date of the accident.
That’s typically when the fault and the damages are suffered all at the same time.
For example, the Florida statute of limitations car accident will start as of the day of the auto accident.
Date of discovery
In other cases, particularly in medical malpractice cases, sexual abuse, or assault cases, the harm or damages are not discovered later.
For example, the victim of a medical misdiagnosis will only realize or discover the fault another doctor will eventually property diagnose the disease or cancer.
Occupational diseases such as mesothelioma caused by asbestos is another famous example of how injuries can manifest themselves later (even decades).
That’s when the victim’s statute of limitations will run from the moment of discovery of the harm as opposed to when the doctor had initially misdiagnosed cancer.
The discovery may happen months, if not, years after the misdiagnosis (there must be a link between the underlying negligent act and the damages).
Impossibility to act
Finally, there are some cases where, in the interest of justice, a person’s timeline to sue will be tolled as they could not move forward with a lawsuit for reasons beyond their control.
An example of that is mental incapacity or lack of mental competence allowing the victim to take legal action.
The moment the victim regains the capacity or becomes able to take action, the clock will start ticking as of that time.
In our example, a victim deemed incapacitated due to temporary mental illness will be given additional time to file a lawsuit.
The statute of limitations clock will start running from the moment the person’s incapacity over.
What can affect the statute of limitations
Under the Florida Statutes §95.11, the law sets the personal injury statute of limitations at 4 years from the moment of the accident.
However, there are events, circumstances, and scenarios where the legal timeline can extend beyond four years or even get reduced.
As we mentioned in our disclaimer above, if you get into an accident or suffer damages, you must consult with a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible so you know what are the legal timelines applicable to your case.
Here are some other considerations that may affect how long you may have to seek damages to compensate damages suffered due to personal injury:
- The type of case you intend to file can affect your legal timelines
- Minors are given additional time to file a claim further to the Florida Statute §95.051
- The moment in time that the injuries or damages manifest themselves can affect the timelines
- Medical malpractice lawsuits are governed by §95.11(4)(b) of Florida Statutes
- Medical malpractice lawsuits are also subject to the Statute of repose requiring the victim to bring medical malpractice claims no later than 4 years after the original cause of injury regardless of when it was discovered
- Product liability claims must observe §95.031 of Florida Statutes where a consumer cannot bring a legal action beyond 12 years after the purchase of a product
- Claims against the government or public entities must follow their own rules (utility vehicles, public bus, roadway conditions etc)
- Victims of sexual abuse in Florida have the ability to bring injury claims against their abuser and must follow the timelines provided by law
Filing lawsuit after expiry of deadline
Can you file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations period has expired?
Unfortunately, if your statute of limitations delays have passed, it’s a given that your lawsuit will be dismissed right out the gate.
Although you can file a personal injury lawsuit, the court or the other party may raise the issue of the statute of limitations to immediately and summarily dismiss your case.
When your legal action is time-barred, you no longer have “legal” recourse against the defendant or at-fault party.
As a result, you will no longer be able to hold the defendant legally accountable to compensate you for the damages you suffered.
If you are looking to successfully prosecute a person causing you damages, getting a judgment or award for damages, or hoping to settle a personal injury claim, you must make sure that you act within the deadlines established by law.
Florida Comparative Negligence Rule
The comparative negligence rule is when the law attempts to allocate fault proportionately to each party involved in an accident.
For instance, if a person sues another for damages, the defendant may raise the comparative negligence rule to argue that the accident victim shares some responsibility in the accident and must bear some of the costs.
For example, imagine Suzanne and Mary get into an accident where Suzanne is allocated 75% of the responsibility and Mary 25%.
If Mary’s damages amount to $10,000, this means that Suzanne would be accountable for $7,500 and Mary for $2,500.
In Florida, the courts follow a “pure comparative negligence rule” where they take the victim’s total damages and reduce it by the person’s share of responsibility.
In our example, Mary will be entitled to receive a total of $7,500 instead of $10,000.
So what is the Florida Personal Injury Statute of Limitations?
Let’s look at a summary of our findings.
Florida Statute of Limitations Personal Injury:
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