Regardless of the type of personal injury claim, you must be aware of and adhere to the statute of limitations for these claims if you consider filing a personal injury lawsuit in Florida. Continue reading for information on the filing deadline specified by this Florida statute, the significance of the deadline, and any potential extensions.

What is the statute of limitations?

Per Florida Statutes section 95.11(3)(a), you have four years, ordinarily beginning from the date of the occurrence or accident, to file a civil lawsuit to obtain compensation for “an action predicated on negligence.” Since the majority are governed by the liability principle of “negligence,” that includes almost every conceivable type of personal injury lawsuit.

What if you miss the deadline?

Suppose you attempt to file your personal injury lawsuit after the underlying accident or incident has occurred for more than four years. In that case, the defendant may bring up this fact to the court, and the court will summarily dismiss your case. Unless you qualify for an extension of the statute of limitations due to a rare exemption, you will no longer be able to pursue compensation for your injuries, regardless of how severe or obvious the defendant’s liability may be.

The Florida personal injury statute of limitations doesn’t only apply if you’ve chosen to file a formal lawsuit to pursue your damage claim in court. The filing date established by this statute is also essential to your position in talks over a personal injury settlement with the defendant. Additionally, you will obviously have no leverage if the four-year deadline has already passed.

It is best to speak with a knowledgeable Tampa personal injury lawyer if you have concerns about how Florida’s statute of limitations might apply to your potential personal injury claim, mainly if the deadline has passed or is approaching.

Florida’s personal injury statute of limitations exceptions

Florida has recognized several possible factual circumstances that could be used to postpone the start of the statute of limitations. Here are a few instances of situations that will probably alter Florida’s typical four-year window for filing personal injury lawsuits:

  • The injured party was legally deemed “incapacitated” (i.e., suffering from a temporary or permanent mental illness) at the time of the initial accident. Note that no more than seven years may elapse between the date of the accident and the lawsuit filing, so an extension under this exception is not open-ended.
  • The person accused of causing the injuries (the defendant) left Florida at some point following the initial accident and before the lawsuit could be filed. The defendant then took actions to hide from Florida authorities or changed their name or identity to avoid “process” (the case and summons) from being served.

summing up

Florida’s personal injury statute of limitations places a strict deadline on your ability to request financial compensation from a court for losses resulting from an accident. Speaking with a personal injury attorney immediately after the accident is advisable to avoid costly mistakes such as missing the filing deadline.