Understanding the Statute of Limitations and Your Personal Injury Case
While you may have the right to pursue compensation after you get hurt through little-to-no fault of your own in Florida, you won’t have an unlimited amount of time to do so.
That’s because of something called a “statute of limitations.” Here’s everything you need to know about the statute of limitations and your Florida personal injury case.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations, otherwise known as a prescriptive period, is the amount of time an injured individual has to pursue legal action against the person or entity that caused their accident. Parties who fail to file lawsuits before their statutory window slams shut usually forfeit their right to claim compensation.
Why Does Florida Have a Statute of Limitations for Civil Cases?
There are many reasons why Florida has a statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits, including:
- To prevent injured parties from abusing the legal system by litigating old matters
- To ensure that the evidence presented in personal injury lawsuits is recent, and
- To encourage plaintiffs to file a claim as quickly as possible
The Sunshine State’s statutes of limitations can also go a long way toward preventing injured parties from dangling the potential for legal issues over the heads of liable people and business entities.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in Florida?
The statutes of limitations for personal injury claims in the state of Florida vary depending on the specifics of the accident that caused the plaintiff’s injuries.
These are the time limits for the most common types of accidents in the state of Florida:
Car Accident Cases
Florida Statute § 95.11 notes that the statute of limitations for car accident claims in the Sunshine State is four years. In most instances, the timer for lawsuits of this nature begins on the day the crash occurs.
Truck Accident Cases
Florida law stipulates that people who sustain injuries in truck accidents in Clearwater or New Port Richey have four years from the date of the wreck to take legal action against the liable party.
Motorcycle Accident Cases
After a motorcycle accident, an injured rider is subject to a four-year statute of limitations. They’ll have, at most, four years from the date of the crash to file a lawsuit action against the person that caused their crash.
Slip and Fall Accident Cases
Tampa Bay residents frequently slip on wet floors and fall from ladders in bars, grocery stores, construction sites, and factories. When accidents of this nature occur, victims have a four-year time period with which to file a slip and fall accident claim against the responsible party.
Dog Bite Accident Cases
When someone suffers injuries after a dog bite or any other kind of animal attack, they have four years to begin the process of pursuing damages.
Medical Malpractice Cases
When Tampa Bay residents visit a hospital or medical facility, they expect to have the workers treat them with care. Unfortunately, physicians often make mistakes that can cause their condition to worsen.
When instances of this nature arise, injured persons have two years to file a medical malpractice lawsuit against the at-fault hospital or doctor.
Workplace Accident Cases
It is, unfortunately, not at all uncommon for Floridians to sustain injuries in on-the-job accidents. These incidents occur most frequently in:
- Grocery stores
- Construction sites
Individuals who suffer a work injury in one of these places must generally file a benefits claim within two years of the date of the accident.
However, if their employer gave them medical treatment, they have a year to file the necessary paperwork.
Product Liability Cases
People who buy power tools, toys, and other consumer goods expect that they will be safe for use. Unfortunately, many of the products available on the market today have defects that can cause users to sustain injuries.
When people in New Port Richey or Clearwater suffer injuries at the hands of dangerous products, they have four years to sue the at-fault party.
Wrongful Death Cases
When Tampa Bay residents lose their lives in car crashes, animal attacks, or slip and fall accidents, their family can pursue compensation for:
- Loss of inheritance
- Loss of consortium, and
- Burial or cremation expenses
Families members that wish to seek damages of this nature must file suit against the person that caused their loved one’s death within two years. The best way to know for sure how long you have to file a lawsuit against the person or business entity that caused your accident is to consult with knowledgeable personal injury lawyers – like those at Roman & Gaynor.
Does the Statute of Limitations Change When a Government Agency is the Liable Party?
The time limit for filing a personal injury claim against most private parties in the state of Florida is either two or four years. If the at-fault entity is an agency of the city, county, or state government, however, the time injured parties have to take legal action is almost always three years.
As with the majority of private lawsuits, the statutory window for government claims usually starts on the day of the victim’s accident.
When Does the State of Florida Pause the Statute of Limitations?
There are certain circumstances under which the state of Florida has the ability to pause or extend an individual’s statute of limitations, including:
Accidents Involving Minors
Children do not have the right to file lawsuits or take other legal actions in the state of Florida. As such, when minors get injured in truck accidents or dog attacks, their four-year statute of limitations does not usually start on the day of their incident. Instead, it begins on the first day the state gives them the authority to sue the liable party – their 18th birthday.
Accidents in Which the Liable Party Flees the State
It is, unfortunately, not at all unusual for liable parties to leave the state of Florida after they cause car crashes or slip and fall accidents.
When these unfortunate situations occur, it becomes impossible for the plaintiff to sue them.
Fortunately, injuries individuals do not need to worry about their statute of limitations expiring while the other party is out of the area. The laws in the Sunshine State explain that the timer pauses until the defendant returns.
Accidents Involving Victims with Delayed Injury Diagnoses
Many accident victims discover their injuries immediately after their motor vehicle accident or fall. Others do not find out about theirs until months or years later.
Florida’s “discovery of harm” rule means that the statutory window for the second group does not open on the day of their accident. Their statute of limitations does not begin until the day they receive a diagnosis.
Do you believe that the court should pause (toll) or extend the deadline to file your personal injury lawsuit? If so, please reach out to our skilled legal team as soon as you can. Our attorneys will be happy to review your claim and let you know your filing deadline.
Need Help Understanding the Statute of Limitations and Your Personal Injury Case? Contact Our Law Firm Today
If you require extra help understanding the statute of limitations and your personal injury case, please do not hesitate to contact the seasoned legal team at Roman & Gaynor. We have the knowledge and experience needed to provide you with the information you seek. We have offices in New Port Richey and Clearwater, and we offer free consultations.