March 2023 Update: A new law reduces the statute of limitations for negligence actions from four years to two years. Your time to file an accident claim has been reduced by two years.
If you or your loved one suffers an injury to the body, emotions, or mind due to another person’s actions, you are a victim of personal injury in legal terms. The consequences of personal injury can be enormous. In some cases, the injuries can be life-changing and incapacitating, leading to loss of income and expensive medical bills.
If another person is at fault for your injuries, you shouldn’t be the one to bear the costs of treatment and related bills. You can file a personal injury lawsuit against the other person. However, the time you bring your case to court is of the essence. It has a role to play in the outcome of your case.
Like every other state, Florida has a personal injury statute of limitations. Read on for details on the Florida statute of limitations and why it is crucial, and other issues surrounding its implementation.
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What is a Personal Injury Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations refers to a period within which you must file your case. In Florida, the personal injury statute of limitations differs from case to case, depending on the type of injury in question. The purpose of the statute of limitations is to protect the defendant from constant lawsuit threats from a plaintiff for an indefinite period.
A statute of limitations is generally defined as “a law which sets the maximum period which one can wait before filing a lawsuit, depending on the type of case or claim.”
Furthermore, it helps to ensure that the case has more reliable witnesses and comes to a conclusion as fast as possible. Setting a deadline also allows the parties concerned to overcome the challenge of losing valuable evidence with time. Personal injury attorneys recommend that you file your case as soon as possible, mainly because the process can be complex.
Each type of personal injury case has a different statute of limitations, based on various factors, including:
- The nature of the claim
- The parties involved, whether public figures or private
- When the clock begins, based on the date of injury and date of discovery
- Other factors that may extend the deadline
The Florida statute of limitations applies even when you have already started negotiations with the defendant’s insurance company.
What Are Florida’s Statute Of Limitations?
Florida’s statute of limitations for most types of legal action is found at Florida Statutes § 95.11 (2018).
If, however, you were injured as a result of the negligence of a government employee, or while on government property, the statute of limitations is governed by Florida Statutes §768.28 (2018). Further explanation between those two statutes is below.
Therefore, when you are injured by the actions or inactions of another person or entity, there are three very important questions to ask when it comes to the statute of limitations.
- First, when does the clock begin ticking for me to bring a lawsuit for my injuries?
- Second, how was I injured (and who caused those injuries)?
- Third, and most important, when is the deadline for me to file a lawsuit for my injuries?
When Does The Statute Of Limitations Begin in Florida?
When it comes to personal injury cases, the answer to the first question is almost always from the date of the incident.
If you were hurt in a car crash or a slip/trip and fall, or from professional/medical malpractice, the date of the incident is generally the date from which the clock begins ticking.
However, if you are injured as a result of professional or medical malpractice, and the cause of your injury is determined at a later date, the clock will begin ticking from the date the cause of the injury is discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence.
If you are injured as a result of a car crash, in a slip/trip and fall, or from professional or medical malpractice, it is never advisable for you to wait. You should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible.
Florida Statute of Limitations for Various Personal Injury Cases
The law in Florida stipulates different statute of limitations for various types of personal injury cases. Statutes for the most common types of personal injury cases are as follows:
Car Accident Statute of Limitations
Motor vehicle accidents are the leading cause of death in America, usually caused by driver error. After a car accident, you have up to two years (updated March 2023) from the date of the accident to file your case if another person was at fault. However, if the victim does not survive the injuries, eligible family members have up to two years from the date of death to file a lawsuit.
If the driver at fault was uninsured at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations could extend to five years. However, the extension relies on other requirements like using your no-fault (PIP) benefits.
If your claim in a car accident is related to property damage only, the Florida statute of limitations, in this case, is two years (updated March 2023).
Additionally, it’s crucial to remember the 14-day accident rule and check if it applies to your case. The law requires you to seek medical care within 14 days after an auto accident. Beyond this period, you will not be able to file a PIP insurance claim.
Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
Medical malpractice happens when a physician, medical professional, or hospital causes an injury because of negligence or omission. Injuries resulting from medical malpractice have a statute of limitations of two years in Florida. The deadline applies from the date of the harm resulting from a medical practitioner’s negligence.
In some cases, you may not discover these injuries straight away, a factor that can extend the deadline by another two years. This means that you must file a lawsuit within two years after the date of discovery.
Overall, you must file your case within two years (updated March 2023) after the procedure leading to the injury, a deadline known as the statute of repose. The clock starts running from the date when the damage occurs, whether or not you knew about the malpractice.
Child victims have a statute of limitations of two years (updated March 2023) from the date of injury or discovery.
Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
Family members can file a lawsuit seeking compensation for the death of a loved one after a breach of contract, wrongful act, or negligence. The estate representatives submit the action on behalf of the deceased.
In Florida, the statute of limitations requires that the concerned parties file a lawsuit for wrongful death within two years from the date of death. However, the deadline may extend if the defendant tries to hide the cause of death.
Dog Bite Statute of Limitations
Dog bites cause bodily harm and can be fatal. Dog owners must, by law, prevent their dogs from causing physical injury to other people. Florida dog bite laws allow victims to sue under strict liability, intentional torts, and negligence. Victims have up to two years (updated March 2023) from the date of the bite to file a case.
Product Liability Statute of Limitations
Consumers can sue manufacturers of defective products for negligence, breach of warranty, and strict liability. Florida statutes require that product liability lawsuits begin within two years (updated March 2023), based on breach of contract, negligence, strict liability, or nuisance.
Time starts running out for defective products at the time of discovery of the injury. In other cases, the clock starts ticking when the discovery would have been possible with due diligence.
Premises Liability Statute of Limitations
A property owner or tenant is responsible for creating a safe working and living environment, including fire safety and proper lighting. Premises liability are the injuries an invitee or licensee suffers while on the premises due to negligence by the property owner. The statute of limitations, in this case, is two years (updated March 2023), and the countdown begins on the date of the accident.
Motorcycle Accident Statute of Limitations
The specific statute of limitations that apply to motorcycle accidents in Florida vary depending on whether the accident caused a fatality. It also depends on the party named in the lawsuit.
- Motorcycle accident injury claims have a deadline of two years (updated March 2023) from the date of the motorcycle accident. Only in rare cases will the court make an exception.
- Wrongful death claims caused by motorcycle accidents have a deadline of two years. The law in Florida allows surviving family members to file a claim for wrongful death if they have lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident.
- In motorcycle accident injury claims where the defendant is a government entity, the plaintiff has a period of three years to file a case. If a driver in a government vehicle is at fault, the lawsuit will be against the associated government agency or subdivision.
- Product liability injury claims based on faulty bike parts like fuel tanks, throttles, or tires have a deadline of two years (updated March 2023). When the defect leads to an injury, the statute of limitations is two years (updated March 2023).
- If you want to sue for property damage caused by a motorcycle accident, you have two years (updated March 2023) to take legal action.
Slip and Fall Accident Statute of Limitations
You have up to two years (updated March 2023) to file a lawsuit for a slip and fall injury.
Assault and Battery Statute of Limitations
Battery refers to the physical harm caused to a person by another using force. Assault is the attempt or threat to inflict injury. If you are a victim of the two, Florida statutes allow you up to two years (updated March 2023) from the date of the incident to file a case. However, the longer you wait in such cases, the harder it becomes to prove your case.
Florida Statute of Limiations Quick Overview
- Car Accident – 4 years
- Slip and Fall Accident – 4 Years
- Wrongful Death – 2 Years
- Medical Malpractice – 2 Years from the date of discovery
- Product Liability – 4 Years
- Cruise Ship Injury – 1 Year
- Sovereign Injury – i.e. airport, Amtrak, U.S. Postal Service Truck, etc. 3 Years; Exception for Wrongful Death 2 Years
- Uninsured Motorist Claim – 5 Years
- Breach of Contract – Oral 4 Years; Written 5 Years
- Defamation – 2 Years
What if You Miss the Statute of Limitation Deadline?
If you try to file a personal injury lawsuit past the deadline, the defense can move to dismiss your case. The court will also deny it, and you will be prohibited from filing any other lawsuit related to that particular case, regardless of how strong your claims are or who caused the accident. Besides, you will not receive any compensation for your injuries.
Consulting and hiring an experienced personal injury attorney soon after an accident can go a long way in ensuring you don’t miss out on compensation because of missed deadlines. An attorney with experience in personal injury cases will help you figure out the statute of limitations for your case. They will also make sure you have enough time to assert your rights.
How Can a Florida Personal Injury Lawyer Help You?
When you or your loved one suffers injury or loses life in an accident, the most prudent thing to do is to file for damages. However, the process can be complex and involving, which is why you need a reputable and trustworthy personal injury lawyer to represent you. A lawyer understands the statute of limitations for each type of injury and will work hard to ensure you file in good time.
Shiner Law Group is available to help you avoid the pitfalls of the statutes of limitations. We are available to answer your questions and discuss any part of your accident case. Call us today to talk to one of our experts for a free online case evaluation.