If an injury occurs to a person that warrants litigation, the victim has a limited amount of time to file a personal injury claim or lawsuit. This limited amount of time is known as the statute of limitations.
Once this limitation has passed, or expired, no court has jurisdiction to hear the case and the case cannot be refilled. These limitations are in place in many countries besides the United States. However, these limitations vary in every state. The Florida personal injury statute of limitations is four years.
Definition of Personal Injury Claim
A personal injury is defined by law as damage that occurs to a person’s body, mind, or emotions. It is not to be confused with damage that occurs to personal property. Property damage is a different type of tort lawsuit.
A personal injury claim is filed against the entity or person that causes the harm. The harm can be caused by negligence, gross negligence, intentional misconduct, reckless conduct, or strict liability. Strict liability occurs when an injury is caused by a defective product.
Personal injury cases can include medical and dental accidents. However, in the state of Florida, malpractice suits follow a different set of legal guidelines as well as a statute of limitations.
In a personal injury claim, damages will be awarded on the basis of pain, suffering, and compensation of medical bills and expenses due to the injury. In extreme cases, Florida courts can assign punitive damages if the defendant’s conduct or negligence was particularly egregious..
Common Causes of Personal Injury Claims
- Traffic accidents
- Work-related accidents
- Accidental slips, trips, or falls
- Product liability issues
Purpose of the Statute of Limitations
Limitations on the amount of time you have to litigate a personal injury claim have been put into place for several reasons. The first reason is to ensure that plaintiffs seek resolution in a timely manner.
The next reason limitations have been created is to protect defendants. Courts realize that evidence can disappear and erode over time. Statutes of limitations ensure that complaints are presented in a timeframe that allows for evidence to still exist in a usable state.
The final purpose of limitations is to ensure that litigation that comes up long after the damaging event does not create more cruelty than justice. It is arguable that statutes of limitations are in place only for the protection of the defendant.
Florida Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
As mentioned, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits in Florida is four years. In Florida, the clock starts ticking at the time of the injury. There is a further exception to this law called the delayed discovery rule. In Florida, the time of limitations can also begin when an injury is discovered. This is applicable in cases where the injury does not appear at the time the event occurs.
It is important to note that in Florida, there is also a statute of repose. This limits the amount of time for discovery in the case of delayed discovery. A plaintiff has twelve years to discover damage in order to bring litigation.