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Understanding Statutes of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases in Florida

Personal Injury

Personal injury cases in Florida span the range of injuries from car and truck accidents, medical malpractice, dog bites, trips and falls, and many others. Florida’s personal injury law sets out your legal rights if you have been injured in an accident that was not your fault. In a personal injury case, your attorney may assert negligence on the part of the other party. In other cases, there is a “strict liability” standard, such as when a manufacturer makes a defective product. In a strict liability case, proof of negligence is not required – the liability is imposed by law. 

Being injured in an accident is a difficult, stressful, and often painful experience. Accidents can also raise complicated questions about who is to blame, so it is important to contact a Florida personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. 

A Summary of Florida’s Personal Injury Law

Regardless of who or what caused your injuries, in order to be entitled to compensation, you need to be able to prove your claim for damages. This requires proof of:

  • The cause of your injuries,
  • The extent of your injuries, and
  • The long-term effects of your injuries.

If you do not have evidence to prove that your injuries are accident-related, you can be almost certain that your insurance company will deny your claim for coverage. How do you prove a claim for damages after an accident in Florida? Proving your claim requires:

  • A thorough on-site investigation;
  • Follow-up investigation to obtain relevant records, video recordings, and other evidence;
  • Immediate medical attention to document your diagnosis;
  • Follow-up medical treatment and medical records; and

Statutes of Limitations

The statute of limitations, which is the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit for personal injury in Florida, depends on the type of case. If you do not bring your lawsuit before the time limit expires, Florida law could forever bar you from obtaining compensation from the person whose negligence injured you. Merely negotiating with the insurance company does not count as filing a lawsuit. 

Florida passed a statute of limitations reform in 2023, which affects how much time you have to file a lawsuit against a negligent party. The new law reduces the amount of time allowed to start a personal injury claim in Florida from four years to two years. Under the new law, most personal injury lawsuits must be filed within two years of the date of injury, or they will not be allowed. Florida already had a two-year statute of limitations on medical malpractice and wrongful death lawsuits. Here are some examples:

  • You typically have only two years to take legal action on a medical malpractice claim. However, depending on the circumstances of the case, this may be extended up to four years.
  • Assault and battery charges must be filed within a two-year period. 
  • If you’re injured in a vehicle accident, the statute of limitations is typically two years.
  • If you’ve been bitten by a vicious dog, you have two years to file your claim.
  • If you suffered harm by a defective or dangerous product, you might have to sue within two years. 

This reduced period of time makes it more imperative than ever to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after suffering any substantial injury caused by someone else’s negligence. 

When your claim is against a local, state, or federal government agency, your statute of limitations could be much shorter than in a typical injury claim and the process is a bit different. You may have to commence an administrative action before taking a government entity to court. This means that first, you must attempt to have the government directly resolve the claim favorably on your behalf. Only after the denial of your claim do you have the right to file a lawsuit against the government. Depending on the facts of the case, you may have only six months or one year to file legal action.

When Does the Clock Start Running in an Injury Case?

Time starts to run on your filing deadline at one of three different points, depending on the circumstances.

  • In most injury claims, the statute of limitations starts to run on the date of the injury. For example, if you’re struck by a car in the crosswalk, you generally have two years to file a lawsuit, beginning with the date of the collision.
  • Sometimes, the harm is not immediately apparent, so the deadline could start to run on the date on which the plaintiff discovered or should have discovered the damage. This is often the case with medical malpractice, where the malpractice is not discovered until much later. This is also the case with diseases that take a long time to develop, such as asbestosis.
  • Wrongful death cases usually have a two-year statute of limitations. The deadline starts to run on the date of death, not the date of the injury. 

It’s also important to note a new change to Florida law regarding the extent of your own negligence in your injury. Up until 2023, Florida courts followed a doctrine of “pure comparative negligence” when apportioning jury awards in personal injury claims. The 2023 law changes the standard to what is known as “modified comparative negligence.” That is, any award that you get will be reduced by the percentage of your own negligence. However, if you are found to be more than 50% negligent for your injury, you will recover nothing. 

Contact Searcy Denney If You’ve Suffered Injuries

If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury due to another person’s negligence, you should contact a Florida personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. The legal system is complex, and the time it takes to bring a case is relatively short, considering all the investigation and preparation that must be conducted. Contact Seary Denney so we can start protecting your rights and help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 800-780-8607 today.

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Posted By: Bud Wilder