While we always caution personal injury victims against settling their case too quickly in the face of pressure from the insurance company responsible for their injury, you do need to know that pursuing a claim for a personal injury is subject to certain deadlines, that must be met or you can lose your ability to recover. These deadlines are known as “statutes of limitation.”
What Is a Statute of Limitation?
A statute of limitations is a law that sets a time limit on how long someone has to file a lawsuit for a particular type of claim, here a personal injury claim. The purpose of a statute of limitations is to ensure that cases are heard within a reasonable amount of time and that evidence is still available, so that judges and juries are not trying to cipher through evidence and testimony that may be decades old and no longer reliable.
Each state in the U.S. has their own varying statutes of limitation that differ depending on the type of case, i.e., a lawsuit over a car accident versus one over a breach of contract for example.
Florida's Personal Injury Statute of Limitations: 4 Years
Under Florida law, a “personal injury” occurs when a person suffers some sort of bodily injury during a fall or other accident. Most commonly, personal injuries result from car accidents, but they can also occur as the result of slip and fall accidents at retail or other establishments, injury caused by a defective product, as well an injury caused by a drug, medical device, or medical malpractice.
For most personal injury claims involving bodily injuries, the Florida statute of limitations is four years from the date of the accident. This means that you have four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit in court to recover the damages to which you are entitled as a result of the personal injury you suffered. If you do not file your personal injury lawsuit within that four-year period, your lawsuit will not be permitted to go forward.
When the Statute of Limitations Begins to Run
The Florida personal injury statute of limitations runs from the date of your accident. For example, if you were injured in a car accident on October 14, 2021, you will have until October 14, 2025 to file your personal injury lawsuit to recover the damages the accident caused you. While that may feel like a long time, it goes quicker than you might imagine. As experienced personal injury attorneys, at Taylor, Warren, Weidner & Hancock we always encourage car accident or other personal injury victims to focus on their recovery first and do not be tempted to settle your case too quickly. However, it is important to bring a skilled personal injury attorney on board early so he or she can make sure you are getting all the medical treatment you need, generating the right kind of evidence that will enable you to recover your damages, and meeting all applicable deadlines, like the governing statute of limitations.
The four-year statute of limitations applies to car accidents and slip-and-fall cases.
Personal Injury Claims with Different Statutes of Limitations in Florida
Not all personal injury claims are governed by the four year statute of limitations. Different types of accidents and injuries can be governed by different statutes of limitation.
If you were injured as the result of a doctor, nurse, or other medical professional not following the standard of care while treating you, you may have a claim for medical malpractice. Medical malpractice claims are subject to a more stringent, two-year statute of limitations under Florida law, as well as other pre-suit filing procedures. The two-year timeline begins to run when you discover your injury.
If you are injured while performing your job, you may want to file a claim for workers' compensation. Most employers in Florida carry workers' compensation insurance to cover them in case of on-the-job accidents that result in personal injury to their employees. The statute of limitations for a workers' compensation personal injury claim is two years, running from the date of the accident.
When someone dies as the result of another person's failure to act carefully or reasonably, thereby causing the death, the personal representative of the decedent's estate may be able to file a wrongful death claim. In most cases, the personal representative will have two years from the date of the death to file the personal injury wrongful death claim.