What is the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in Florida?
Personal injuries can be devastating, both physically and emotionally. Whether you've been in a car accident, suffered a slip-and-fall, or experienced medical malpractice, the aftermath of a personal injury can leave you with mounting medical bills, lost wages, and long-term consequences.
If you're a Floridian who's suffered a personal injury, the state's statute of limitations puts a deadline on when to file a claim. In this blog, learn about Florida’s personal injury statute of limitations, the most common cases, exceptions, and steps to take when filing a lawsuit.
3 Personal Injury Case Examples
Personal injury cases are described as a person who suffers harm physically or emotionally by another person or entity that is legally responsible for that harm. These cases can include a wide range of accidents, some listed below and more explained here.
1. Car Crashes
Car-related incidents are one of the top causes of personal injuries in Florida. In fact, according to the latest data from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were 341,399 recorded crashes in 2020, which resulted in 212,432 recorded injuries. In a car accident personal injury case, the injured party may be able to seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.
2. Slips and Falls
Slips and falls commonly occur on someone else's property, such as a store or restaurant, meaning third-party actors are responsible for any sustained severe injuries, such as broken bones, head trauma, and spinal cord injuries. There are some exceptions and justifications for the defendants in place, like comparative negligence, which essentially means the property owner was not the only one at fault for the injuries caused by the slip and fall.
3. Medical Malpractice
Medical malpractice is a type of personal injury case when a healthcare provider fails to provide adequate care, resulting in harm or injury to the patient. Examples of medical malpractice include misdiagnosis, surgical errors, and medication errors. Possible defendants can include doctors, nurses, technicians, and specialists, not necessarily with the hospital or facility.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations for personal injury cases can vary depending on the circumstances of the case. In most cases, you have four years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit, but there are exceptions.
If you're injured as a minor, you have seven years or until the end of the standard statute of limitations to file a lawsuit, no matter when the injury occurred. This extension of time is designed to account for minors' inability to understand the full extent of their injuries and their legal rights.
Additionally, minors do not need to wait until 18 to pursue a claim, but they cannot file a lawsuit without their parents’ or guardians’ assistance. The minor exception does not apply if the minor is emancipated, meaning that they are legally considered an adult and can make their own legal decisions.
2. Out-of-state Defendants
When the defendant is located outside of the state, in some cases, the statute deadline may not begin until the defendant is physically present in Florida.
This exception commonly occurs when the defendant is a company or an individual based outside of Florida, but the injury or accident occurred in Florida. For example, a Florida resident injured in a car accident in Florida by a driver from another state may take advantage of the out-of-state defendant's exception to the statute of limitations.
The out-of-state defendant's exception does not automatically apply in all cases. For example, the injured person may need to show that the defendant has a sufficient presence or connection to Florida, such as owning property or doing business in the state. Moreover, the injured person may need to comply with specific procedural requirements, such as serving the defendant with notice of the lawsuit in a particular manner.
3. Toxic Exposure
In cases where the injury or illness was caused by exposure to toxic substances, such as chemicals or pollutants, the statute of limitations may be extended in Florida. In such cases, the injured person may not immediately recognize the cause of their injury or illness.
The harmful effects of exposure to these substances may become apparent years or even decades after the initial exposure. The deadline to file a complaint may begin once the plaintiff discovers the link between the toxic substance and their injury or illness. The injured person may need to undergo medical tests or evaluations to determine the cause of their illness or injury and to identify the responsible party or parties.
Steps to Take for Filing a Personal Injury Claim
Take the necessary steps to protect your rights after a personal injury. First, seek medical attention for your injuries as soon as possible. Not only is this important for your health and well-being, but it also creates a record of your injuries that can be used as evidence in your case.
Second, gather as much evidence as possible after the accident. This includes taking pictures of the scene, obtaining contact information from witnesses, and compiling police reports or other documentation related to the accident.
Finally, consult with a personal injury attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can help you understand your legal rights and options and guide you through filing a claim and negotiating a settlement with insurance companies.
The four-year limit for filing a personal injury claim is the general rule, but some exceptions can apply depending on circumstances. However, don’t wait too long to file a claim because it can make gathering evidence more challenging to build a solid case. Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for excellent legal insight to help you understand what to do next. We’re ready to help you!