Understand the time limits for filing a personal injury claim in Florida
Have you ever experienced that sinking feeling when you realize you missed a crucial appointment or deadline? It’s a frustrating moment of self-reflection, wondering why you didn’t address the task earlier and overcome your procrastination. Unfortunately, time is not always on our side, particularly when it comes to filing a personal injury claim.
To spare you from the disappointment and regret that accompanies missed opportunities, we’re here to shed light on the statute of limitations in Florida. Understanding these legal time limits is vital to ensure you take timely action and protect your rights after an accident or injury.
Remember, the clock is ticking, and being well-informed is your first step toward securing the justice and compensation you deserve.
What is a statute of limitations?
A statute of limitations is a legal time limit that specifies the maximum period within which a legal claim or action can be filed. It defines the timeframe from the occurrence of an event or the discovery of harm within which an individual must initiate legal proceedings.
Once the statute of limitations expires, the right to bring a claim or lawsuit is generally lost, and the defendant can raise it as a defense to have the case dismissed.
Types of personal injury cases that are subject to a statute of limitations
Here are some common examples of personal injury lawsuits that need to be filed within a specified statute of limitations:
- Vehicle accidents. Vehicle accidents may include cars, motorcycles, trucks, busses and any other type of motor vehicles.
- Boat accidents. Boat accidents can occur due to various factors, such as operator negligence, reckless behavior or equipment failure.
- Bike and pedestrian accidents. Accidents involving bicycles and pedestrians often occur when drivers are distracted or otherwise ignore traffic laws.
- Dog bites. Dog bites often occur when a pet owner fails to properly monitor or secure their dog in public or when a dog manages to escape from an owner’s yard.
- Premises liability. Premises liability cases involve injuries from accidents like slips, trips or falls or other accidents that occur on someone else’s property, such as a store, restaurant or private residence.
- Product liability. When a defective product causes injury or harm, you may have grounds for a product liability claim. This includes dangerous drug lawsuits filed against pharmaceutical companies.
- Medical malpractice. Medical malpractice cases may involve mistakes made by doctors and other medical professionals, such as surgical errors, misdiagnoses or medication mistakes.
- Nursing home abuse. Nursing home abuse can include physical, emotional or financial abuse against nursing home residents by staff and caregivers.
- Wrongful death. A wrongful death occurs when a person, company or entity negligently or intentionally causes another person’s death.
How long do I have to file a lawsuit in Florida?
The statute of limitations for most personal injury claims in Florida is 2 years from the date of the accident (or from the date the injury was discovered in cases of medical malpractice, nursing home abuse and product liability).
Are there any exceptions to Florida’s personal injury statute of limitations?
Yes, in certain situations, the statute of limitations can be paused for various reasons. This is known in legal terms as “tolling.” Below are some reasons that the statute of limitations may be tolled:
- Incapacitation. If you’ve been seriously injured in an accident to the point that you have been left unable to pursue legal action, then the Florida statute of limitations may provide an exception in your case. You may have the ability to extend the time limit for filing a personal injury claim for as long as 7 years from the date the accident occurred.
- Minors. If the injury occurred while you were a minor (under the age of 18), then the statute of limitations can be extended for up to 7 years. If the injury occurs when you are near the age of 18, then the standard four-year statute of limitations will begin on your 18th birthday.
- Defendant left the state. In some cases, when the person responsible for your injuries suspects or finds out that they’re going to be sued, they will leave the state to try to avoid legal consequences for their actions. If this occurs prior to you filing your personal injury claim, then you may have the option of pausing the statute of limitations to give you time to try to locate the responsible party.
- Defendant concealed themself. Sometimes, rather than leaving the state, the person responsible for your injuries may try to avoid detection by changing or otherwise disguising their identity. In this instance, the same process applies as in the case of the responsible party who has fled the state: The time limit may be paused to give you time to locate the defendant.
- Child sexual abuse. Oftentimes, a child doesn’t reveal that they’ve been sexually abused until they’re much older, either because they fear their abuser or because they don’t realize or understand what has happened to them until later on in life. Since applying a rigid statute of limitations in such cases would deprive these most vulnerable victims of justice, Florida has done away with any time frame for filing a sexual abuse claim.
Filing deadlines and process against a government agency in Florida
For cases involving an injury you suffered in Florida in which the government is the responsible party/defendant, personal injury law states that you are required to provide the responsible state/county/city agency and the state Department of Financial Services with written notice of the claim within 3 years of the date of the incident.
The written communication must include the following:
- The date of the injury
- The facts surrounding the incident
- The details of the losses incurred as a result
You may also fill out a claims form provided by the Florida Division of Risk Management.
If the injury occurred at the hands of a municipal or county agency or employee, then a personal injury claim must be submitted to the municipal or county department that handles claims. This information and specific requirements can usually be found on the municipality’s or county’s website.
How long do inmates have to file a claim against the Florida Department of Corrections?
If the injured party is incarcerated within the Florida Department of Corrections, then written notice of the claim must be given within 1 year of the date of the incident. The injured party has 3 years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit.
Contact a Miami personal injury attorney
If you or a loved one has been the victim of someone else’s negligence, it’s imperative that you understand the statute of limitations and procedures required to file a civil lawsuit for your specific claim. At Redondo Law, attorney Mike Redondo has a proven track record of successfully representing those injured through the negligence of others, always placing client satisfaction above all else.
To better help his clients and increase access for anyone who’s been injured in an accident, Mike speaks both Spanish and English and is happy to offer a free, comprehensive evaluation to potential clients.
Time is of the essence in these cases, so contact our office today so we can help you get the compensation and justice you deserve.