Auto accidents, slip and fall incidents, and nearly all other types of personal injury cases share one common element: the statute of limitations. If you have suffered an injury and wish to sue the party responsible to receive the damages you deserve, you must be conscious of statutes of limitations or time frames for pursuing legal action established by the state and federal governments.
People injured due to a mishap or hazardous condition produced by another person or group can file a claim to obtain reparation. But, as with other states in the US, Florida imposes a limit on the amount of time during which an injured party may file a lawsuit against the party liable for the damage. This period is referred to as the “statute of limitations.”
Statutes of limitations help to make sure that claims are filed when the facts of a case are still obtainable, and memories of events are still fresh in the witnesses’ minds. The object of a statute of limitations is to guarantee that cases are brought to court within a reasonable length of time.
The Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in Florida
Personal injury is the legal term for physical harm to a person experienced in an accident, most often a car accident.
For most personal injury lawsuits relating to bodily harm, the statute of limitations in Florida is two years from the date when the accident occurred. In other words, an individual has two years from the day of the event to file a personal injury claim. If a claim is not filed within that period, the individual is prevented from doing so thereafter. On March 24, 2023, new laws shortened the time to file a lawsuit for negligence cases from 4 years to 2 years if the loss occurred after 3/24/23.
However, certain exceptions to this rule exist, with the most common being the discovery rule. For example, if a person’s injuries were not evident right after the accident, the clock might not start until the injuries are uncovered or should have been uncovered. Thus, it’s essential to get the ball rolling on a claim as promptly as possible after an accident occurs, or an injury is discovered.
What is the Definition of Personal Injury?
Personal injury is a legal expression used to describe damage to the mind, body, or emotions, in contrast to damage done to property. The term is most often used to refer to the kind of lawsuit where the individual who brings the suit, the plaintiff, has suffered physical or mental harm. Personal injury claims are filed against the individual or group that brought about the harm through one of the following:
- Gross negligence
- Intentional misconduct
- Reckless behavior
In some instances, such suits are filed on account of strict liability, a standard under which a person or organization is legally liable for the effects of an action even when no fault or criminal intent exists.
Various jurisdictions have different definitions of the damages incurred through a personal injury (i.e., those items for which an injured party may be remunerated). However, damages relating to personal injury cases most often involve the injured person’s pain and suffering, medical expenses, and reduced quality of life.
When the Statute of Limitations Goes into Effect
In Florida the statute of limitations for personal injury cases begins from the date when an accident occurred. So, for example, if a person’s car is struck by another vehicle on January 1, 2023 and someone is injured, they have until January 1, 2027 to file a personal injury claim with the courts.
However, it’s important not to wait that long, as a great deal of evidence and data needs to be collected and examined before filing such a claim. An individual who suffers an injury in an accident should get started immediately to allow as much time as possible to prepare for a claim.
Types of Cases Relating to Personal Injury Claims
- Car Accidents: If a person is involved in a car accident, they have two years from the date the event occurred to initiate a personal injury lawsuit. This includes suits for both personal injuries and property damage.
- Slip and Fall/Trip and Fall Accidents: As with auto accidents, if a person is injured in a slip and fall mishap, they have two years from the date of the mishap to initiate a personal injury lawsuit. This rule pertains to premises liability lawsuits filed against either public organizations or owners of private property.
- Criminal Acts: A personal injury lawsuit may also be initiated if a person is assaulted or mugged and has received an injury as a result. In such a case, even if the person who committed the assault or mugging faces criminal charges, the victim must still file a personal injury claim within the statute of limitations to get additional reparation for their injuries.
Tolling the Statute of Limitations Period in Florida
Tolling the statute of limitations means that the time period for filing a lawsuit is paused or suspended for a certain period of time. This can occur for a variety of reasons, such as if the person who was injured is a minor, or if the person responsible for the injury is not identifiable.
In these cases, the statute of limitations may be tolled until the person becomes an adult or until the person responsible for the injury is identified. Once the tolling period ends, the time period for filing a lawsuit re-commences, and the injured person will have the remaining amount of time to file a lawsuit. For the state of Florida, the timer then falls back to the original statute of two years.
Exceptions to Florida’s Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
As with any legal issue, exceptions exist concerning the Florida personal injury statute of limitations. The following are some of the most frequent.
- Being incapacitated due to injuries from an accident: in such a case, a person can have up to seven years from the accident date to pursue a personal injury lawsuit.
- Being a minor: If a person is below the age of 18, the statute of limitations may be lengthened to seven years from the date of loss; and if they are close to turning 18, the two-year statute will begin proceeding on their birthday.
- The defendant fleeing the state: If this occurs before a personal injury claim is filed, the plaintiff may be able to stop the clock while trying to track down the defendant.
- The defendant concealing their identity: Instead of fleeing, some individuals may try to hide their identity to avoid facing a personal injury lawsuit. Here again, it’s possible to stop the clock while the plaintiff tries to find the defendant.
Contact the Law Offices of Nerina Smart, P.A. for Help with Your Personal Injury Case
If you have experienced a personal injury due to an auto accident, a slip and fall mishap, a dog bite, or some other event, it’s important that you contact us at The Law Offices of Nerina Smart, P.A., as soon as possible. In this way, you can make certain that your rights are safeguarded and that you receive the amount of compensation you deserve.
Our experienced personal injury lawyers can help you plot a course through the complexities of the legal system and fight for your best interests. Get in touch with us today for a free consultation!