Under the Florida statute of limitations for personal injury, you may have up to four years to file a lawsuit. However, in some cases, you must file sooner or you risk losing your legal right to compensation. Like many other states, Florida’s laws impose different time limits on different types of personal injury cases. To ensure that you take legal action within the statutory time frame, consider talking to a Florida personal injury lawyer about your case as soon as possible.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury in Florida?
The Florida personal injury statute of limitations provides most plaintiffs with up to four years from the date of their injury to file a civil lawsuit. However, this time period changes based on who the defendant is. If your claim involves a governmental entity, you must adhere to a different timeline. If you sustained your injuries on the job, or as a result of medical malpractice, you also face a shorter timeline to take action.
Personal Injuries Caused by a Private Entity
Florida’s statute of limitations for personal injury is four years from the date of the accident. In some limited cases, the four-year period may start with the date of discovery of the injuries.
Personal Injuries Caused by a Public Entity
If a public entity (such as a governmental agency) caused your injuries, you have a total of three years to file suit. However, the statute of limitations limits your discovery period to six months.
Medical Malpractice Injuries
If you sustained injuries due to medical malpractice, you must take legal action within two years of discovering the injury. However, no matter when you discovered the injury, you cannot pursue legal action beyond four years after the malpractice took place.
Workers’ Compensation Injuries
For injuries sustained on the job, you must file a claim or petition for benefits within two years of the date you discovered your injuries.
Can I Extend the Statute of Limitations in Florida?
Although limited, you do have some options for extending Florida’s statute of limitations.
The Discovery Rule
One notable exception, known as the discovery rule, involves undiscovered damages. If, for example, your job required working with a chemical that was later proved to be toxic, you might not know you sustained an injury until years later. In this case, the court will typically allow you to file legal action after the statute of limitations expires. However, your legal team will have to present evidence to support the delayed discovery of your injuries.
Another exception that could extend the time you have to take legal action is known as tolling. If the Florida statute of limitations for personal injury is tolled, this means it is placed on hold. Some of the reasons you could toll the statute of limitations in Florida include the following.
Mental Incompetence or Incapacity
If the plaintiff had mental incapacity or incompetence prior to sustaining a personal injury, the victim may have the right to toll the statute of limitations. In this case, that deadline can be extended to seven years. However, you must prove that the incapacity existed prior to the accident. Mental incapacity resulting from the accident in question does not provide a basis for tolling.
If the at-fault party cannot be located, you might have grounds for tolling. This can occur if, for example, the defendant goes into hiding to avoid being served in your personal injury lawsuit. If the defendant leaves the state, you may also have grounds for tolling. This exception provides relief for plaintiffs when the defendant seeks to avoid the consequences of their actions.
Arbitration, a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR), allows the plaintiff and defendant to negotiate the outcome of their case. If you enter into arbitration with the defendant, the statute of limitations can be tolled until those proceedings conclude. This way, if you fail to reach an acceptable settlement through arbitration, the statute of limitations extends, allowing you time to file a lawsuit.
Children Below Age 8
Florida imposes slightly statute of limitations rules for children who are younger than eight years old. Consult a personal injury lawyer immediately if your child sustained injuries due to medical malpractice or another form of negligence.
When Should I Talk to a Personal Injury Lawyer?
Even though you might have up to four years to file your claim, you should consult an attorney as quickly as possible after an injury. Talking to a lawyer is essential if someone else caused your injuries.
The personal injury lawyers of Rue & Ziffra have assisted clients for more than 40 years. We can assist you with all types of personal injury cases, including auto accident claims, medical malpractice, slip and falls, and more.
We have helped thousands of clients recover compensation for their personal injury damages, and we are standing by to help you. Contact us now to discuss how the Florida statute of limitations for personal injury claims may affect your case.