If you are involved in an accident or an incident 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 and insurance claims in Florida. You should have an idea of how the statutory 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 the Florida Personal Injury Statutory Law?

Statutory law, also known as the statute of limitations, provides the time limit after your injury before which you can file a personal injury lawsuit. 

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

Statute of Limitations for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Florida

Statutory laws 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. The deadline starts immediately on the date of your injury.

What if You File a Lawsuit After the Deadline of the Statute of Limitations?

If you don’t file a lawsuit within the four-year deadline, the court will dismiss your case. 

Even if you go ahead and file a lawsuit after the deadline and the defendant finds out, he/she can propose a motion to dismiss your case. The court will most likely agree with the defendant and dismiss your lawsuit. 

The statute of limitations also applies when you decide not to file a formal lawsuit against the defendant but, instead, choose to negotiate with them outside the court system. When the defendant’s insurance company realizes that the four-year deadline has passed, they may fail to compensate you. 

After the expiry of the deadline set in statutory laws, you have no leverage on a claim or entitlement to any amount of compensation. 

Exceptions to the Florida Personal Injury Statute of Limitation

There are exceptional cases when the personal injury statute of limitations’ clock may be delayed or paused. 

In such scenarios, the deadline to file your lawsuit may be extended past the four-year period. These exceptions are outlined in Florida Statute Section 95.051 and include:

1. When the Rule of Discovery Applies

The discovery rule applies in instances where a personal injury victim wasn’t aware that they were injured until much later. In such a case, the discovery rule will extend the time over which you can file a lawsuit.

For instance, suppose you were working at an asbestos company and the frequent exposure to harmful chemicals leaves you with mesothelioma. However, you may not have discovered the illness until many years after you had left the asbestos company. In such an instance, the statute of limitations deadline will begin the day you discover the link between working at the asbestos company and the disease.

2. 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 in the interest of justice. 

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 become a Florida resident 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

3. Statute of Response

The statute of response law applies to medical malpractice and product liability injuries. For medical malpractice incidents, the statute gives victims up to four years to file a lawsuit, regardless of the date when the injury was discovered. 

However, there are cases when the statute of limitations may be extended, e.g., when the doctor commits fraud to conceal the patient’s injuries. In such a scenario, the statutory deadline will be extended by two more years. However, the claim must be filed within seven years after the injury occurred.

For product liability injuries, the statute of limitations deadline is four years after the date of the injury. However, according to Florida statute 95.031, the useful years of most products is ten years or less. Therefore, injured persons in product liability cases can only file their claims within 12 years after they purchased the product.

4. Personal Injury Claims Against the Government

If your personal injury claim is against the government or a public entity, the statute of limitations may be different. 

For instance, if you were injured due to the negligence of a worker who was responsible for maintaining a municipal property, you may have to sue the municipal council. Your injury case against the public entity will be subjected to different laws from the standard personal injury cases. The statutory limitations for this case may also be shorter than the four years.

Get Help from a Florida Personal Injury Attorney

The above are not the only scenarios where the statute of limitations deadline can be extended. To learn more about the limitations and how they apply to your case, consult a personal injury attorney. The lawyer will advise you on other exceptions that may be valid in your injury case.

Even if you choose to negotiate with the defendant out of court, talk to an attorney. The lawyer will keep the statutory laws in mind and ensure the negotiations don’t continue past the four-year deadline. This means you will have leverage, in case you aren’t satisfied with the direction that the negotiations are going and opt to file a lawsuit.

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.