Statute of Limitations Florida (Overview: All You Need To Know)

What is the Statute of Limitations Florida?

How long is the statute of limitations in Florida?

What are the essential elements you should know!

Keep reading as we have gathered exactly the information that you need!

Let’s dig into our Florida statute of limitations laws knowledge!

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What Is Statute of Limitations Florida 

“Statute of limitations Flordia” refers to laws adopted by the FL legislature setting a timeline to file a claim or lawsuit front the moment the claims start accruing.

In other words, the FL statute of limitations refers to Florida laws prohibiting actions when a certain period of time has elapsed from the date a claim accrues.

The main objective for the State of Florida to adopt laws related to statutes of limitation is to ensure that lawsuits and claims are filed in a timely manner.

A “statute of limitation” is a legal time period set by law where a person, entity, or claimant must file a claim or lawsuit within a specific period of time once the claim accrues.

Under the Florida laws, a claim “accrues” when all the elements of the cause of action occur including the damaging act and the damages.

The statute of limitations may start ticking from the moment the victim of an injury or plaintiff discovers the injury either due to the injury manifesting itself later in time or due to the defendant’s acts of concealment or fraudulent behavior. 

Purpose of FL Statute of Limitations

The objective of establishing statute of limitations laws in Florida is to provide certainty to those involved in accidents or events that may lead to a cause of action.

By filing a claim or lawsuit in a timely manner, the plaintiff or claimant can better present his or her case as the evidence may be more readily available and the witnesses, including the plaintiff, may better remember more recent events.

The statute of limitations is also beneficial for individuals, businesses, and defendants in general as they know that they are exposed to legal liability for a certain period of time only.

Once the deadline is expired, the defendant will know that it will no longer be exposed to lawsuits.

Imagine a company selling goods or products to millions of people over the course of the past thirty years, it would be unreasonable to demand that the company remain liable to all its customers for a long period of time.

However, with the application of the statute of limitations, the company may know that its legal exposure to a client who bought the product ten years ago is much lower than a person who bought the product a year ago.

Criminal Statute of Limitations Vs Civil Statute of Limitations

What is the difference between a criminal versus civil statute of limitations?

Fundamentally, the notions of criminal statute of limitation and civil statute of limitations intend to achieve a similar objective.

We say “criminal” statute of limitations as we are referring to limitations set out in criminal laws whereas we say “civil” to refer to civil laws.

Typically, most civil causes of action in Florida will be subject to a time period after which a claim or lawsuit will be barred.

Although criminal laws will also have statutes of limitations where the prosecutor will have a defined period of time to file charges against a criminal defendant, there are some crimes or offenses that do not have a statute of limitations.

For example, murder, vehicular homicide, or manslaughter do not have any time limit for the prosecutor to file charges.

It’s important to speak with a criminal lawyer or a civil lawyer, depending on your case, to better understand the application of statute of limitations to your case.

Tolling of The Statute of Limitations

There are instances when the statute of limitations can be tolled or the time period to file a claim extended.

The legal doctrine of “tolling” allows for the legal clock to be “paused” or deadline “extended” allowing the victim or claimant potentially more time to file an action.

The tolling of the statute of limitations in Florida can get complicated so you want to consult with a qualified attorney.

To help you understand the concept, here are some common reasons when statutes of limitations are tolled:

  • The plaintiff was a minor when the cause of action accrued
  • Mental incompetence of the victim
  • Imprisonment of the plaintiff 
  • Bankruptcy filing staying other proceedings
  • The physical absence of the defendant in the state 
  • Good faith negotiations between the parties 

Statute of Limitations Examples In Florida

Section 95.11 of the Florida Statutes provides the legal basis for the establishment of deadlines related to different types of action.

Although you should consult with an experienced attorney to provide you legal advice and guidance with regards to the Florida statutes of limitations, here are a few key statutes of limitations in Florida related to civil matters:

  • Recovery of judgment action: 20 years
  • Breach of contract action: 5 years for written contracts and 4 years for oral contracts
  • Claims related to the design, planning or construction on real property: 4 years
  • Fraud claims: 4 years
  • Payment of wages claims: 2 years
  • Defamation claims: 2 years
  • Payment of bond claim: 1 year

Here are a few examples of statutes of limitations related to criminal matters:

  • Second-degree misdemeanor: 1 year
  • First-degree misdemeanor: 2 years 
  • Third-degree felony: 3 years
  • Second-degree felony: 3 years
  • First-degree felony: 4 years

There are some crimes that may not have a statute of limitations or expiration due to how society views the seriousness of the offense.

Florida Statute of Limitations Takeaways 

What is the statute of limitations in Florida?

Let’s look at a summary of our findings.

Statute of Limitations In Florida

  • The notion of “Florida statute of limitations” generally refers to laws adopted by the state of Florida setting (or not) a timeline for claims to be filed
  • The objective of the “statute of limitations” in general is to set a timeline for claims to be filed in such a way that disputes are handled and resolved in a timely manner
  • Different laws can set statutes of limitations in different ways such as in product liability laws, personal injury laws, medical malpractice laws, negligence laws, criminal laws, or other
  • In some cases, the victim’s time to file a claim may be extended when permitted by the Florida laws (tolling of the statute of limitations in Florida)
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