How Long Do You Have to File a Personal Injury Claim?
What you need to know about filing a personal injury claim.
When it comes to filing a personal injury claim in Florida, it’s less about how long it takes to put your case together and more about how much time you have. Florida law limits the amount of time within which a plaintiff may file a personal injury claim against the party that might be legally responsible for their injury. This is known as the statute of limitations.
While you don’t have to make a claim immediately after an accident, the countdown begins at the date of injury. Therefore, it’s best to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to start working on your case within the specified amount of time.
Understanding Florida’s Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims
The statute of limitations is, for all intents and purposes, a deadline, expiration date, or time limit on your claim. Its main purpose is to make sure that lawsuits are brought within a reasonable amount of time. This way, defendants don’t have to worry about litigating cases related to injuries that happened years or decades ago. It also ensures that important evidence is not lost over time.
In Florida, the statute of limitations for injury claims can vary depending on:
- The nature of the injury being claimed
- When the “clock” starts
- The age of the victim
- The alleged at-fault party (public entity or private party)
- Exceptions that extend the statute of limitations
Date of Injury
Florida Statute § 95.11(3)(a) gives you four years from the date an accident occurs to file a personal injury claim seeking compensation for an action founded on negligence. This statute of limitations covers almost all conceivable types of personal injury cases, including:
- Car accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Bicycle accidents
- Slip and fall injuries
- Construction site accidents
- Truck accidents
- Boat accidents
- Motorcycle accidents
- Catastrophic injuries
- Dog Bites
- Product Liability
The statute of limitations is 3 years if you have a cause of action against a government entity.
Under Florida Statute § 95.11(4)(b), the statute of limitations for filing a medical malpractice claim is two years from the date of the actual malpractice or the date you discovered your injuries.
When it comes to wrongful death, a family has 2 years from the date of a loved one’s death to bring a lawsuit.
Date of Discovery
Sometimes, you may not realize your injury was caused by certain events. Some examples where this could arise include medical malpractice (i.e. failure to diagnose), asbestos exposure, or sexual abuse cases. In such situations, the clock starts when a victim reasonably discovers a link between their damages and an underlying wrongful or negligent act.
Florida has identified several scenarios that might serve to “toll” or delay the running of the statute of limitations, effectively extending the standard timeline for filing a personal injury claim. Here are examples of exceptions spelled out in Florida Statutes section 95.051:
- The defendant fled the jurisdiction after the accident and before the lawsuit could be filed
- The plaintiff had been legally deemed incapacitated at the time of the accident
- The victim was a minor at the time of their injury
- The defendant concealed him/herself to prevent “process” from being served
What Happens If You Miss the Filing Deadline?
If you try to file a personal injury claim after the statute of limitations has expired, it’s a near-certainty that the court will summarily dismiss your case. This means you’ll have lost your right to seek compensation for harms and damages, no matter how significant they might be, unless you’re entitled to an extension of the time limit under a rare exception.
Contact Yanchuck, Berman to Learn more About Personal Injury Claims
No matter what your case may involve, filing a personal injury claim within the set time limit can help protect your right to seek damages for your injury and increase the chances of a successful outcome. Our St. Petersburg personal injury attorneys at Yanchuck, Berman are ready to help you build a strong case and seek the full compensation available by law for your injuries. Don’t hesitate to contact us today at 727 822-6313 to schedule a free and confidential legal consultation.