Learn about the strict deadlines for filing your personal injury claim in Florida
Slip and falls, car accidents and most other personal injury cases all have one critical detail in common: the statute of limitations. People who are injured as a result of an accident or hazard created by someone else may file a legal claim to receive compensation.
However, 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.”
How long do Florida plaintiffs have to file a civil personal injury claim?
The answer to this question depends, in part, on whether your case is based on negligence or not.
For Florida personal injury cases that are founded on negligence, the statute of limitations is 4 years. Auto accidents, premises liability and wrongful death cases all have a 4-year statute of limitations.
Civil injury cases that are NOT based on negligence have a 2-year statute of limitations. Medical malpractice, assault and battery and workers’ compensation are examples of other cases that have a 2-year statute of limitations.
Product liability cases may have a statute of limitations of 2 or 4 years, depending on the case.
Contacting a Florida personal injury attorney as early as possible can help plaintiffs maximize their opportunity to receive the compensation they deserve.
When does Florida’s statute of limitations clock start?
The statute of limitations clock generally begins at the date of injury. Plaintiffs who file a claim after the expiration of the statute of limitations typically lose their legal right to file suit for compensation. In some cases, the plaintiff may not become aware of the injury until after the date of the incident.
Plaintiffs in medical malpractice and sexual abuse or assault cases are among those who most often discover their injury later on. If a plaintiff reasonably discovers their injury, Florida courts may determine that the statute of limitations 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 or if the plaintiff temporarily becomes incapacitated or mentally incompetent.
Florida statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases
Medical malpractice cases are inherently more complex because there are many variables that help determine the statute of limitations. If a medical professional injures you, you may file a claim within 2 years. However, if you don’t discover the injury within 2 years, the court may toll the statute of limitations.
For example, if a surgical team leaves an instrument inside a patient, you may not discover the instrument until days, weeks or months later. In this case, the statute of limitations would begin the day the patient discovers the injury.
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. However, personal injury claims against government entities are subject to a different set of rules and procedures.
Changes to sexual abuse statute of limitations
A recent increase in awareness about sexual abuse cases led several states, including Florida, to extend the statute of limitations for these cases.
For victims who are minors under the age of 16, the statute of limitations is indefinite. In other cases, the statute of limitations may be 7 years after the victim turns 18 or 4 years after the victim is no longer dependent on the defendant.
Consult experienced Florida personal injury attorneys at Lorenzo & Lorenzo
Personal injury cases require the help of an attorney with very specialized knowledge and experience. 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.