If you are involved in an accident that results in a personal injury in Florida, your West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer may advise you to file a lawsuit or an insurance claim against the defendant. 

The attorney may also inform you of some laws that may affect your injury claim. One such crucial law is the statute of limitations. This law comes into play in personal injury lawsuits in Florida. You should have an idea of how this law works and why you need to act quickly when filing a lawsuit. 

Read on for a breakdown of everything you need to know about Florida personal injury statutes of limitations. 

WHAT IS A STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS?

A statute of limitations is a law that restricts the amount of time that personal injury victims will have after an accident to file a personal injury lawsuit. 

It is important to know the statute of limitations for your injury case. This is because if the deadline passes before you file a lawsuit, you will lose your rights to pursue the claim in a civil court and to receive compensation for the injuries.

WHAT IS THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR PERSONAL INJURY CASES IN FLORIDA?

The statute of limitations for personal injury cases vary from state-to-state. According to Florida Statutes Annotated Section 95.11 (3), personal injury victims have up to four years to file a lawsuit to get compensation. This four-year time period starts immediately on the date you sustained your injuries.

This statute of limitations applies to most personal injury cases, with few exceptions. The statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases, for example, is only two years.

WHAT IF YOU FILE A PERSONAL INJURY LAWSUIT AFTER THE DEADLINE HAS PASSED?

If you file a lawsuit after the deadline has passed, the court will dismiss your case. 

After the statute of limitations has expired, you will lose the right to pursue your case in court and recover compensation for your injuries.

WHAT ARE THE EXCEPTIONS TO THE STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS?

There are exceptions to the statute of limitations law for personal injury cases in Florida. Some of these exceptions include:

WHEN THE RULE OF DISCOVERY APPLIES

The discovery rule applies in instances where a personal injury victim wasn’t immediately aware that they were injured. In this situation, the discovery rule would apply. This means the statute of limitations would not begin on the date of the accident, but rather the date your injuries were discovered. 

For example, say a negligent physician made a surgical error when performing a surgery on you. However, you did not realize that the physician made an error right away. You discovered the injuries–and linked them back to the surgery–three months after the surgery took place. In this case, the statute of limitations would not begin until the date the injuries were discovered.

TOLLING CASES

Tolling refers to temporarily delaying or pausing the statute of limitations due to situations that are beyond a victim’s control. These situations often make it impossible for a lawsuit to move forward. As a result, the deadline will be paused. 

Examples of cases where tolling may apply include:

  • If you are incapacitated due to a permanent or temporary mental or physical injury that happened at the time of the accident. However, this extension is not open-ended. There is a 7-year limit from the time the accident happened and the time you will have to file the lawsuit. This means that you should file the lawsuit within seven years after the incident.
  • If, after the accident, the defendant left Florida for another state before you could file the lawsuit. In this case, you’ll have to wait for the person to return to Florida to file the lawsuit.
  • If you were a minor at the time that the incident occurred. However, the 7-year deadline also applies in this case.
  • If the defendant tried to conceal their identity such that it was impossible for you to serve them the lawsuit summons or to file the lawsuit, the statute of limitations will be paused.

STATUTE OF REPOSE LAWS

A statute of repose is similar to a statute of limitations. However, a statute of limitations sets a deadline based on when the victim sustained an injury, whereas a statute of repose sets a deadline based solely on how much time has passed.

The statute of response law applies to several types of cases, including medical malpractice cases. For medical malpractice incidents, the statute gives victims up to four years from the date the malpractice was committed to file a lawsuit. This is true regardless of when the injury was discovered.

There are several exceptions to this rule, including when the doctor commits fraud to conceal the patient’s injuries. In such a scenario, the deadline will be extended by two more years. But even with this extension, the law states that a medical malpractice lawsuit cannot be filed more than 7 years from the date the malpractice was committed.

PERSONAL INJURY CLAIMS AGAINST THE GOVERNMENT

If the at-fault party is a government or public entity, the statute of limitations may be different. 

For instance, if you were injured by the negligence of a city bus driver, the city may be liable for your injuries. The statute of limitations is different for cases involving government entities, which is why you should seek legal representation from a personal injury attorney.

GET HELP FROM A PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY IN FLORIDA

There are other situations in which the statute of limitations deadline may be extended. To learn more about the limitations and how they apply to your case, consult a personal injury attorney. Your lawyer will advise you on other exceptions that may be apply to your injury case.

Personal injury lawyers are skilled and experienced in handling various types of injury cases. Your attorney will build a strong case to increase your chances of getting fair compensation for your injuries.