What You Need to Know About Florida’s Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims

How long do I have to file a personal injury claim in Florida?

When someone suffers severe injuries, the consequences can be enormous. These injuries are life-changing, often resulting in expensive medical bills, property damage, loss of income, and other hardships.

If someone else is at fault for your injuries, you shouldn’t have to bear these costs. Once an injury occurs, time is of the essence in bringing your case to court. That’s because, like all states, Florida has a statute of limitations for personal injury claims.

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What does “Statute of Limitations” mean?

A statute of limitations is sort of like an expiration date on when a lawsuit can be brought. The statute of limitations is a law that sets the maximum amount of time you have to pursue a legal claim after an incident. If you do not file your case before the statute of limitations expires, your claim will be forever barred. The statute of limitations is different depending on the state and the type of case.

Why does Florida have a statute of limitations?

The purpose of the statute of limitations is to make sure that parties bring their cases to court on time. In this way, potential defendants don’t have to worry about litigating something that happened decades ago.

Imposing a time limit also ensures that important evidence isn’t lost over time, which is good for each party. The time limit just has to be “reasonable,” which is why the statute of limitations is different in each state.

What is the statute of limitations in Florida for personal injury claims?

In Florida, the statute of limitations for personal injury actions depends on the claim type. The statute of limitations in Florida is usually two to four years and sometimes 5 years, after an incident. The following list breaks down the statute of limitations for each of our practice areas.


 

FLORIDA STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR:

Automobile Accidents

Someone who suffers injuries in a car, truck, or motorcycle accident may have multiple options in bringing their case. The statute of limitations for car accidents in Florida depends on who is at fault and whether the accident resulted in death. Injury lawsuits against another driver have various deadlines. If another driver is at fault for carelessly injuring someone, the injured person has four years to file a lawsuit.

However, if you have a claim against an uninsured motorist insurer that timeframe might be extended to 5 years. Also, there are tricky deadlines within which you must utilize your PIP coverage (no fault benefits) and these deadlines can be as short as 14 days.

If a person is claiming that another driver damaged their car, they have four years to bring Property damage lawsuits.

FLORIDA STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR:

Motorcycle Accidents

For motorcycle accidents, the statute of limitations is four years for personal injury claims. In the event, a motorcycle accident results in death, the law allows two years from the date of death to file a lawsuit.

FLORIDA STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR:

Bike and Pedestrian Accidents

For bike and pedestrian lawsuits, the injured party has four years to bring suit against the person or organization that causes the accident. If the accident results in death, the statute of limitations is two years. If there is a case against an uninsured motorist insurer, the statute of limitations may be extended to five years. Finally, limitations apply the PIP (no fault) claims that can be as little as 14 days.

FLORIDA STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR:

Slip and Fall Injuries

For slip and fall injury lawsuits, the statute of limitations is four years for injury claims. For death claims, the limitations period is two years.

FLORIDA STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR:

Wrongful Death

If a loved one dies in an accident, the family has two years from the date of death to bring a wrongful death lawsuit.

FLORIDA STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR:

Medical Malpractice

The statute of limitations for medical malpractice is complicated in Florida. It generally runs two years from the date when you knew or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should have known that the injury was caused by medical malpractice. Florida also has another law, called the statute of repose, which sets an outer time limit of four years regardless of when you knew or should have known of the malpractice.

The statute of repose begins to run on the date that the malpractice occurs. It is important to remember that the two-year statute of limitations will cut off a claim if you knew or should have known of the malpractice even though the four-year repose period may not have expired.

There are two exceptions to the rules above. The first exception applies where the healthcare provider commits fraud, misrepresentation or concealment of the malpractice. In these rare cases, the statute of repose is extended to seven years. In such a case, the two-year statute of limitations still runs from when you knew or should have known of the malpractice. If the statute of limitations runs before you file your claim, even if the repose period has not expired, you will be barred.

The second exception involves claims for children. The law says that the ordinary statute of repose will not cut off a child’s claim before the child’s eighth birthday. Again, however, the two-year statute of limitations is not extended, and will cut off a claim two years after the child’s parent or guardian knows or should know of the malpractice.

FLORIDA STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR:

Nursing Home Abuse

The statute of limitations for nursing home abuse is essentially the same as the statute governing medical malpractice. The only differences are that the repose period for cases involving fraud and misrepresentation is six years instead of seven and the rules for cases involving children do not apply.

FLORIDA STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR:

Dog Bites

When a dog bites or injures someone, the statute of limitations in a dog-related injury lawsuit is four years. If the accident results in death, the period is two years.

FLORIDA STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR:

Construction Accidents

A worker may be suing someone other than their employer in a construction accident lawsuit. In this case, the statute of limitations for injuries is four years. If the worker died, the family has two years to bring suit.

FLORIDA STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR:

Products Liability

If a person sustains injuries from a defective product, they have four years to bring products liability lawsuits, unless the defective causes death in which case the statute of limitations is two years.

FLORIDA STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS FOR:

Other Types of Cases

There are many other types of cases, such as claims against governmental entities, worker’s compensation claims and boating accident claims, which are subject to statutes of limitations and other deadlines. It is critical that you obtain competent counsel as soon as possible if you have been involved in any of these accidents.


 

Are there any reasons to take action if I have plenty of time left on the statute of limitations?

Yes. The statute of limitations is the legal deadline within which a lawsuit must be filed. There are many things that need to occur before a lawsuit is filed. Additionally, it is advantageous to take certain action immediately after the accident to avoid diminishing the value of your claim. For example, evidence can get misplaced or destroyed. Also, witnesses can be difficult to locate, and their memories and recollection can change over time. Therefore, it is best to take quick action and get immediate legal representation.

Is there any advantage in getting an attorney immediately after the accident?

Yes. Our experience is that injured clients are best served if they know their legal options at the beginning of the case. As stated above, initiating the investigation immediately helps in developing evidence and witnesses’ testimony while the events are still fresh in their minds. Also, it is commonly very helpful to injured victims to know the amount of insurance available, if any. Our firm works diligently to obtain this information at the outset.

Are there any risks in talking to the insurance company, even if there is plenty of time on the statute of limitation?

Yes. Insurance companies are not looking out for injured victims’ interests. They are trying to minimize the pay out of insurance compensation to injured victims. Commonly insurance companies will want to record conversations and many times take in depth recorded statements. Also, they have complex paperwork which may include medical authorizations and releases of liability. These communications with the insurance companies can be quite damaging to the value of and the ability to pursue an injury claim.

How can I make sure the statute of limitations hasn’t run out on my personal injury claim?

Figuring out which statute of limitations applies to your case can be complicated. Additionally, you might not know who is at fault, which can change how much time you have to file suit. The best way to make sure you have time to assert your rights is by contacting an experienced personal injury attorney. At Abrahamson & Uiterwyk, we can help answer your questions. To speak with our experienced Tampa Bay personal injury attorneys, schedule a free consultation online or call us at 1-800-753-5203.