Florida Statute of Limitations Personal Injury

February 23, 2024
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Have you been injured in an incident in Florida? If your injuries were a result of someone else’s wrongdoing or negligence, you can file a lawsuit against them. However, you must follow Florida’s statute of limitations. Understanding the statutes of limitations and how they apply to your lawsuit can help you make informed decisions about your personal injury case.

Statute Limitations For Personal Injury Cases in Florida

A statute of limitations is a law that defines the maximum time in which parties involved in a dispute must initiate legal proceedings. The duration of this limit depends on several factors, including the nature of the incident and jurisdiction. 

Almost every type of legal case, including civil and criminal cases, can have a statute of limitations. However, there are some cases, especially those that involve extremely serious crimes, that may not have any statute of limitations. 

Personal injury cases in Florida have a statute of limitations that sets the timeline for the plaintiff to file a lawsuit. If this duration has passed and the plaintiff did not initiate legal proceedings, they could lose their right to seek compensation for their losses. 

Florida has a statute of limitations of two years for personal injury cases. The statute of limitations in Florida used to be longer; however, recent changes in tort laws have reduced it to two years. 

Exceptions and Extensions 

The statute of limitations may not apply to certain cases, and can also be extended under certain conditions.  

If the injury was not discovered at the time of the accident — and the victim can prove this — the statute of limitations could be extended, beginning when the injury is discovered. For example, it might take years for a person residing near a manufacturing plant to find that they have been inhaling toxic fumes and that has resulted in serious bodily harm. In this case, the statute of limitations would start when the injury or illness is discovered. 

Another situation where the plaintiff can get an extension is if they are a minor at the time of the incident. The statute of limitations can be paused until the victim reaches a certain age. If the accident incapacitated the plaintiff, the statute does not take effect until the victim regains their capacity to file a lawsuit. 

Additionally, for motor vehicle accidents, the statute of limitations may be tolled in cases of hit and run or when the at-fault party has fled the state. Consult a car accident lawyer to discuss your options.

It’s worth noting that Florida strictly imposes statute of limitations laws, so very rarely do any exceptions or extensions apply. You can check with a personal injury attorney to determine if the deadline can be extended in your case. 

What Is the Purpose of the Statute of Limitations? 

While the statute of limitations might seem harsh for victims who were unable to initiate legal proceedings on time, such laws exist for good reasons. One of the most important reasons why the statute of limitations is strictly imposed is that it allows for fair legal proceedings. Over time, evidence can get damaged or lost, causing issues for the plaintiff and defendant as they rely on evidence to support their case. For example, eyewitness availability or credibility could be a major issue if a lot of time has passed. 

With an ongoing case, all parties have to live with the constant threat of potential legal action against them. The statute of limitations helps provide some sense of legal certainty. Having a statute of limitations also helps with judicial efficiency as it ensures the legal system does not get overwhelmed by a relentless stream of old cases. 

Importance of Timely Action in Personal Injury Claims

All states, including Florida, have a statute of limitations for personal injury claims. This sets the deadline to initiate legal action. However, you don’t have to wait until you get close to this deadline. There are several advantages of taking timely action in personal injury claims.

Personal injury cases rely on evidence, and the sooner you take legal action, the greater the chance for gathering and preserving evidence. Similarly, you need to take prompt action for any medical treatment you need as a result of the injury. If you don’t get immediate medical attention, the opposition can use that to prove that your injuries were not serious enough to need medical attention. This can undermine your personal injury case. 

Another key reason to take timely action is insurance companies could have deadlines for injury victims to initiate claims. If you miss the insurance company deadline, you could become ineligible to recover compensation. 

In addition, your insurance company can require an investigation. If you delay taking action, the insurance company might not be able to conduct its investigation due to a lack of evidence or resources. This can lead to your claim being denied.  

Lastly, timely action in personal injury claims offers you negotiation leverage. You are more likely to secure a favorable settlement if you negotiate while in a strong position when you don’t have any pressure of time or lack of evidence. 

However, if you are waiting to achieve maximum medical recovery or are waiting for evidence that can strengthen your case, it may be wise to wait to file a lawsuit. 

Consult with an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer  

If you have suffered an injury in Florida as a result of someone else’s negligence, contact us at Lewis & Castagliola, P.A. With our resources and deep understanding of personal injury law, we can help you fight for maximum compensation for your injuries. 

We encourage you to involve us early in the legal process so we can guide you each step of the way to recovering full and fair compensatory damages. Call us today to schedule a consultation with a personal injury lawyer.