Learn about the strict deadlines for filing your personal injury claim in Florida
Serious injuries cause disability, loss of income and even death. When the injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence, it’s only fair that the injured person gets compensated.
The good news is that under Florida’s personal injury laws, you can sue the party responsible. However, you have a limited window to file the lawsuit, so it’s critical to understand the time limits in your case to ensure your chance at compensation.
Did you know?
According to the National Safety Council (NSC), every second in the U.S., someone is injured, and every 3 minutes, someone is killed by a preventable accident.
What is a statute of limitations?
Similar to other states, Florida’s legislature limits the amount of time within which an injured plaintiff may file a claim against the person or business entity that is responsible for the injury. This time is known as the “statute of limitations.”
These time limits are put in place to ensure that lawsuits are brought before the court in a reasonable time and no evidence is lost. In Florida, the statute of limitations varies depending on several factors, including:
- The nature of the claim
- The parties involved, whether private or public
- The age of the victim
In most cases, if you fail to file the case before the deadline, your suit will be barred forever.
How long do Florida plaintiffs have to file a personal injury claim?
With few exceptions, most Florida personal injury cases have a 2-year statute of limitations. This includes:
- Auto accidents. Motor vehicle accidents are 1 of the leading causes of death in America. The majority of road accidents are due to driver error. Anyone who suffers an injury as a result of a negligent driver can seek personal injury claims within 2 years. These same laws apply to motorcycle accidents and truck wrecks.
- Premises liability. The owner of a property or a tenant is responsible for creating safe working and living conditions, including proper lighting and fire safety. Whether you are an invitee or a licensee, the property owner is responsible for any injuries suffered while on the premises. This is referred to as premises liability. Victims who suffer an injury due to an unsafe property generally have 2 years after the incident to file a claim.
- Wrongful death. Under Florida law, family members can file a lawsuit seeking compensation for the death caused by a wrongful act, breach of contract or negligence. Although the action is submitted by the estate representatives, it’s done on behalf of the deceased. In most cases, the lawsuit needs to be filed within 2 years of the death. However, the deadline can be tolled in certain cases if the defendant conceals the cause of death.
- Medical malpractice. Medical malpractice occurs when a physician, hospital or medical professional causes an injury to a patient due to negligence or omission. While some medical malpractice injuries manifest immediately, others may take some time. For example, if a surgical team leaves an instrument inside a patient, it may not cause immediate issues. In these cases, the normal 2-year statute of limitations is “tolled” or paused. Instead, victims can still file a lawsuit within 2 years from the date they discovered their injury.
- Dog bites. Serious dog bites can cause bodily harm and may even lead to death. Under Florida dog bite laws, dog owners are supposed to prevent their dogs from injuring others, and victims can sue under strict liability, negligence and intentional torts within 2 years of the incident.
- Product liability. Manufacturers of defective products can be sued for negligence, strict liability and breach of warranty. Under Florida law, product liability based on the theories of negligence, breach of warranty, nuisance or strict liability must begin within 2 years. For defective products, the time starts running after the discovery of the injury or when the discovery should have been made with due diligence.
- Assault and battery. Battery refers to the use of force to cause physical harm. Assault is the threat or attempt to inflict personal injury. Under Florida law, victims have 2 years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit. However, the longer you wait, the harder it often is to prove your case.
Additionally, workers’ compensation is another example of a case that has a 2-year statute of limitations.
Contacting a Florida personal injury attorney as early on in the process as possible can help you maximize your chances of receiving the compensation you deserve.
Claims against the government
In some cases, an injured plaintiff may have a cause of action against a government entity. For example, an individual who is injured in a car accident due to a road hazard created by the city may file a claim. In most cases, the statute of limitations in cases against government entities in Florida is 3 years.
However, personal injury claims against the government are subject to a different set of rules and procedures, so be sure to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to ensure you understand your rights and responsibilities when filing these types of claims.
Child sexual abuse statute of limitations
An increase in awareness about sexual abuse cases led Florida to adopt a new law called “Donna’s Law” in 2020. As of July 1, 2020, there is no statute of limitations for victims of sexual battery who were minors (under the age of 18) at the time of the incident.
When does Florida’s statute of limitations clock start?
The statute of limitations clock generally begins at the date of injury. However, in some cases (like medical malpractice), the plaintiff may not become aware of their injury until after the date of the incident. In these cases, Florida courts may determine that the clock begins at the date of discovery instead of the date of the incident.
In other cases, a Florida court may “toll” (pause) the statute of limitations if circumstances beyond the plaintiff’s control prevent the case from moving forward. Examples of these situations include cases in which:
- The defendant flees the jurisdiction.
- A natural disaster results in government office closures.
- The plaintiff temporarily becomes incapacitated or mentally incompetent.
- The plaintiff is a minor.
Because time limits can differ based on the specifics of your case, it’s essential to consult an attorney early on in the process to ensure you don’t miss your chance to recover compensation.
Consult experienced Florida personal injury attorneys at Lorenzo & Lorenzo
Florida’s statute of limitations on personal injury claims is in place to protect both parties. However, the defendant has more to lose as more time passes, which is why you should contact an experienced personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to protect your rights.
At Lorenzo & Lorenzo, our Tampa personal injury attorneys are knowledgeable in all areas of personal injury law. We will work diligently to construct a compelling case to help you get the compensation you need and deserve.
Contact Lorenzo & Lorenzo today for your free, confidential case evaluation.