A statute of limitations defines the deadline for filing a lawsuit. Its purpose is to ensure cases are filed and heard within a reasonable time while evidence is still available. On the other hand, the statute of limitations protects defendants from being exposed indefinitely to liability. It’s important to note that starting negotiations with an insurance company responsible for compensating you doesn’t count as filing a lawsuit. It would help to consult skilled lawyers from a civil litigation law firm in Florida when filing a personal injury lawsuit to ensure you’re well-guided on everything you need to know about the filing deadlines.
How Much Time Do I Have a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Florida?
Previously, the deadline for personal injury cases in Florida was four years from the date of the incident. However, Governor Ron DeSantis signed House Bill (HB) 837 into law in March 2023, reducing the period to two years from the date of the incident. If you believe you were harmed due to the negligence of another individual, entity, or company, you have two years to pursue compensation in a civil court. So, it is best to consult skilled personal injury attorneys in Fort Myers as soon as possible after the incident to start working on the case.
What Happens if I Miss the Deadline?
If you try to file a lawsuit after the legal deadline since the accident or incident, the defendant will likely point this out to the court. The court will probably dismiss your case, and you won't be able to recover compensation for your damages, no matter how significant they might be. It also won’t matter how clear the defendant's liability is unless your case is entitled to a deadline extension under rare circumstances.
What Are the Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
Personal injury lawyers in Florida explain that the state identifies various factual scenarios that might delay the onset and running of the statute of limitations clock, effectively extending the deadline. Examples of situations that can likely modify the standard two-year timeline for personal injury lawsuits in Florida are:
Medical Malpractice Cases
The cases are unique because the malpractice date could differ from the date you discover the injury. For example, you could have had surgery done, only to find a year later that the surgeon left a cotton swab inside your body, which caused internal complications. Time starts running out when you discover the error.
You may be unable to pursue compensation within the required deadline if you sustained severe injuries in an accident that left you in a coma or subjected you to multiple surgeries. In such a case, the statute of limitations can extend to seven years from the accident date.
Cases Involving Minors
Minors can’t file lawsuits in their name. If a child is injured in an accident, the deadline may be extended until they turn 18. The two-year deadline starts to run on the 18th birthday. Alternatively, the parent may petition the court to take action on behalf of the child after the accident, but the case can be complex.
Child Sexual Abuse
Minor victims of sexual abuse don’t reveal the abuse until much later in life. Sticking to a strict statute of limitations on such claims would deny victims the justice they deserve. So, Florida imposes no deadline for child sexual abuse cases. No matter how much time has elapsed, a victim can file a sexual abuse claim.
Defendant Left the State or Concealed Their Identity
Filing a lawsuit can be straightforward when you know who injured you. Unfortunately, some defendants flee the state when they realize they have been sued. In other cases, they may remain within the state but conceal their identity to avoid a lawsuit. You can pause the clock if the defendant runs away or conceals themselves. This gives you and your personal injury lawyers in Florida time to attempt to locate the defendant. Skilled lawyers can engage the services of investigation experts in finding the defendant.
Claims Against the Government
You may suffer injuries while using public transport or walking on a poorly constructed sidewalk that should be maintained by the municipal. You have three years from the incident date to file a personal injury claim against a government entity. The notice must incorporate specific information, without which you could lose your right to pursue compensation. Keeping up with the statute of limitations for different personal injury claims can be challenging. Working with experienced Florida personal injury lawyers can make things easier. The professionals know how personal injury laws work and can guide and represent you to help you pursue compensation.
An Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer Helping You File Your Personal Injury Lawsuit in Time
You can pursue compensation if you sustained injuries in an accident due to someone's fault. You can negotiate an out-of-court settlement or file a lawsuit if the defendant isn’t cooperative. Many factors go into filing a lawsuit, one critical issue being the statute of limitations. Consider hiring experienced personal injury lawyers serving Fort Myers and beyond for advice. Dellutri Law Group is a civil litigation law firm in Florida. We have knowledgeable personal injury attorneys who can handle your case within the given time limits to ensure you don’t miss out on the opportunity to recover damages. You can focus on recovery while we put our skills to work to ensure you get a fair settlement or the maximum amount your case is worth. Call us at 800-391-4337 to schedule a case assessment.