In 2017, the total number of civil filings for personal injury and product liability cases in US district courts was 5,620.
In order to file their cases, the individuals involved in these lawsuits had to meet a deadline. Known as the statute of limitations, exceeding this timeframe means you may lose out on any compensation you’re entitled to.
If you’re a Florida resident who was injured as the result of another party’s negligence, you have the right to sue the other party. But in order to do so, you need to understand the statute of limitation in Florida.
Keep reading to learn more about the statute of limitations in a Florida personal injury case.
What Is a Personal Injury Lawsuit?
A personal injury lawsuit is a civil lawsuit that you might file if you’ve been injured as the result of another party’s wrongful behavior. In legal terms, that wrongful behavior is called negligence.
Negligence is when a person fails to fulfill their duty of care. That means they failed to act in a way that someone would be expected to act under the same circumstance. If a person is injured as a result of that carelessness, they have the right to compensation for their injuries.
Some of the most common injuries and accidents involved in personal injury lawsuits include:
- motor vehicle accidents
- drowning accidents
- brain injuries
- spinal cord injuries
A personal injury lawsuit can also be filed when a person is injured on someone else’s property. But they can also be filed against intentional misconduct, where a person didn’t act negligently, they acted with intention.
In a personal injury case, compensation is more than just compensation for physical injuries. It can also include emotional and property damage, as well as external items such as lost wages.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
When someone is harmed as a result of someone else’s actions, it’s important to take action right away. First of all, the sooner you take action, the sooner you know what kind of evidence you should be collecting. And you can gather that while the circumstances and injuries are still fresh.
But a more important reason not to delay is the statute of limitations.
The statute of limitations is the law that dictates how long you have to take legal action following an injury or a crime. It puts a time limit on lawsuits, and the time limit varies depending on the details of the accident or crime.
What Is the Statute of Limitations in Florida?
Depending on the circumstances of the accident and who was involved, the statute of limitations in Florida varies. We detail the statute of limitations in Florida for the most common personal injury lawsuits.
Accident or Injury Involving Another Individual
If your injury involves another individual, you have four years to file a civil case against that individual. If you don’t file your case within this time, the state of Florida won’t allow you to bring your lawsuit against the other party.
Accident Involving Property Damage
If you’re filing a lawsuit against another party for property damage, you have four years to take that action. An example of property damage would be a claim involving your vehicle following an accident caused by another person.
Accident or Injury Involving a Municipality
If the negligent party in your case is a municipality, the process is different. You may have to file a Notice of Claim. The notice tells the municipality that you plan to file a lawsuit against them.
There’s a statute of limitations, so to speak, on filing a Notice of Claim. That time period is three years from the day of your injury. You can file a lawsuit after the investigation period triggered by the Notice of Claim is finished and your claim is approved.
In the case that you were injured as a result of a defective product, your claim would fall under product liability laws. A product liability claim has a statute of limitations of four years.
The statute of limitations in Florida regarding product liability state that the timeline begins when the product default is discovered. But it may also date from the time that the problem with the product would have reasonably been discovered if due diligence was conducted following the accident.
Surviving family members may choose to file a wrongful death lawsuit if there loved one died as the result f negligence. To do so, they must meet a two-year statute of limitations in Florida.
What Happens If You Miss the Statute of Limitations Deadline?
The state of Florida can deny your claim if you don’t file within the timeline outlined by the statute of limitations for your injury. That means you can miss out on the compensation you’re entitled to by not taking action. And that compensation can go along in helping to cover medical bills, lost wages, child care expenses, pain and suffering, and more.
Common Reasons for Missing the Statute of Limitations Deadline
There are many reasons why someone might miss a statute of limitations deadline. If you’re involved in an accident, for example, there are other things in your mind following an accident. Dealing with insurance, repairing any property damage, and recovering from your injuries, may distract you for pursuing your claim.
Sometimes, if the other party involved is a friend or relative, people may avoid seeking compensation. Fear of what will happen to the relationship or of causing further trouble may stop someone from pursuing their legal rights.
Some people fail to pursue a lawsuit because they don’t think they can afford to pay lawyer’s fees. And others are hindered by a lack of evidence.
What Kind of Evidence Do You Need?
There are four components to a personal injury lawsuit. If you can prove these four elements, you have a good chance of winning your lawsuit. These elements are:
- Duty of reasonable care
- Breach of duty of reasonable care
That is, you must prove that the person had the responsibility to provide you with care and that they didn’t fulfill that duty. To prove this, you often have to demonstrate how another reasonable person would have acted under the same circumstances.
After showing those two elements, you have to show how that breach caused your injury. And then you must show how your injury has cost you damages. How strong your case depends wholly on these four components.
How Much Does a Personal Injury Lawsuit Cost?
There’s no need to miss a statute of limitations deadline due to worries about cost. Most personal injury lawyers are paid on a contingency basis. So what does that mean?
It means that they don’t get paid until you win your award. And their payment is generally calculated as a percentage of what you win. Meaning that it’s in the best interest of a personal injury lawyer to win your case.
Statute of Limitations Exceptions
There are some cases where you can get an extension on the statute of limitations in Florida. Below are some of the reasons exceptions are extended.
If there is a catastrophic injury involved, the injured party often cannot file a lawsuit. In cases where the injured party is catastrophically injured, you have seven years from the date of the injury to file a claim.
If the party responsible for your injury leaves the state, you cannot serve them court documents to start your lawsuit. In these cases, the statute of limitations is on hold until that person comes back to Florida.
In the case that the person responsible for your injuries provided a false identity to law enforcement following the accident, you may get an extension. The extension covers the time it takes to locate and identify the individual as well as verify their identity with law enforcement, insurance companies, and other investigators.
If an injury is discovered long after the accident occurs, this is called delayed discovery. With this type of extension, the statute of limitations time period begins when the injury was discovered and not when it was sustained.
Have You Been Injured As A Result of Negligence?
The statute of limitations is the amount of time you’re given to bring a lawsuit against a negligent party. The statute of limitations in Florida vary depending on the injury, accident, and party involved. In most accident cases, you have four years but in wrongful death cases, you only have two years.
This is why it’s always better to file your lawsuit sooner than later. To find out whether you have a personal injury claim, contact us today.