Personal Injury Statute of Limitations (The Definitive FL Guide)

How Long do You Have to Make an Injury Claim?

Personal injury statute of limitations are laws that set time limits on bringing legal claims. These laws determine how much time you have to make an injury a claim. Each state has its own time limits and the article will cover the personal injury statute of limitations in Florida. So, if you have a potential injury claim in another state or jurisdiction, make sure you find out the time limits in that specific location.

Quick Video About Personal Injury Statute of Limitations:

What does “Bring an Injury Claim” Mean?

The personal injury statute of limitations sets the maximum amount of time you have to bring a personal injury claim. Again, this article only covers the laws in Florida, which are different for every state. When I say “bring an injury claim,” that means you either settled the injury claim by being paid or you filed the lawsuit in the time period allowed by the personal injury statute of limitations.

What can You do if Time is Running Out to Bring an Injury Claim?

You can file a lawsuit. Once a suit is filed, the time limit is tolled. This means even though the accident may have happened 4 years ago, once the lawsuit is filed, you have unlimited time to resolve the lawsuit. As long as it’s actively moving forward.

If you have any doubt about how much time you have to bring an injury claim, speak with a personal injury lawyer right away. You need to seek out an experienced personal injury lawyer immediately because there are many exceptions to the personal injury statute of limitations time limits.

There are Some Exceptions to the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations:

There are some legal exceptions that shorten the amount of time you have and there are some that may give you extra time. That’s why it’s so important to seek legal advice from a qualified personal injury lawyer. It’s always a shame when someone didn’t know or understand the time limits to bring a claim and they find out after it’s too late.

You need to protect you and your family’s rights by learning about the personal injury statute of limitations that will affect your injury claims in your state.

Personal Injury Statute of Limitations for Each Specific Type of Claim in FL:

Time Limits for Ordinary Negligence Injury Claims in FL:

You have four years to file a suit or settle a personal injury claim for ordinary negligence. Ordinary negligence includes things like a motorcycle accident, car accident, dog bite, or product liability injury. However, if a death results from negligence, the time limit changes to two years from the date of death or four years, whichever is shorter.

Time Limits for Wrongful Death Claims in FL:

If a death results from someone else’s negligence, the personal injury statute of the limitations time limit is only two years from the date of the death. For example, if there is a wrongful death claim stemming from a motorcycle crash, car accident, or defective product where the victim dies, then you only have two years to file suit or settle the claim, not four years.

Time Limits for Boating, Admiralty, or Airplane Injury Claims:

There is a ONE-year time limit to bring a claim stemming from a boating or admiralty accident. This is a Federal law that limits the time to file a suit to just one year. There is also a one-year time limit for injuries resulting from commercial airline flights where someone is injured or killed.

Time Limits for Medical Malpractice or Other Types of Professional Negligence in FL:

Professional negligence, such as medical malpractice, and personal injury statute of the limitations time limit is two years.

Time Limits for Injury Claims Against the Government are SHORTER:

If you are injured due to the negligence of the government the time limits are much shorter to bring a claim. If a motor vehicle accident was caused by a city, county, or state vehicle or employee in their governmental capacity, you must file a Notice of Claim with the Florida Department of Insurance at least six months before you can file a lawsuit against the government.

This effectively shortens the amount of time you have to sue the government by six months. So rather than having four years for ordinary negligence, you must send the Notice of Claim, then wait six months before you can file suit.

If you don’t give the required notice, your case will either be dismissed until a proper notice is sent, or your case might be stayed by the court for six months while you give the government the required six-month notice period. But don’t ever take a chance! Just give the government the Notice of Claim immediately to protect your rights.

Time Limits for Injury Claims Against the Federal Government:

If you are injured by the negligence of the federal government, you have to give them notice of your claim before you are allowed to file any suit. The Federal Government can take up to one year to think about your claim. Also, if the Federal Government doesn’t do anything at all about your case, you still have to wait one year before you can file suit.

However, if the US government denies your claim at any time in that one year, then you only have one year from the date they denied your claim to file your lawsuit.

Basically, there is only a one-year personal injury statute of limitations. But the one-year starting date can be one year or less. So, the maximum time limit is up to two years, but it could be as short as one year. An example of a Federal Tort Claim would be a car accident with a postal employee or medical malpractice committed by a VA Hospital or physician.

Time Limits for Breach of Contract like UM Claims in FL:

A claim for breach of contract, like an uninsured or underinsured motorist claim, has a five-year time limit. However, don’t rely just on this simple explanation of time limits. This is because there are many other factors that may shorten or extend the time limits.

Since an Uninsured Motorist or Underinsured Motorist claim is based on what is written in your insurance contract, not negligence, you have five years to file suit for the damages you are allowed to recover under your UM insurance contract. When you file a UM lawsuit, it seems like you are suing for negligence, but it truly is a breach of contract claim.

So, despite appearing as if you are suing for negligence, it is legally and technically a contract dispute. This allows you five years to bring this type claim.  The five-year statute of limitations time limit starts from the date of the accident.

What if the UM Claim Involves a Wrongful Death? How Much Time do You Have?

The answer is still five years from the date of the accident. However, do not ever wait to bring such a claim. When in doubt, file the suit in two years.

Exceptions to Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in FL:

Time Limit Exceptions in Medical Malpractice for Fraud in FL:

Yes, there are a few narrow exceptions to the time limits to bring some claims. For instance, since the time limit is so short for medical malpractice, there are some instances where the malpractice occurred but the patient may not be aware of the medical mistake. There are an additional two years if the malpractice is a product of fraud.

A product of fraud example would be if the doctor realized he did something wrong, lied about it, and hides evidence of his negligence. Then the victim has an extra two years to find out about the negligence to bring a suit.

However, the victim has to show that the only reason they did not find out about the negligence in the two years was because of fraud by the doctor to hide the negligence. So, before anyone can bring a claim in the extra time period, they must first prove the intentional conduct of the doctors to hide their mistake.

Time Limit Exceptions in Medical Malpractice for Child Birth in FL:

Another exception to the two-year time limit for medical malpractice is when the negligence occurs during the birth of a child. Florida law extends the time limit to seven years for some baby brain injury claims because it takes several years for the injury to become apparent from a birth injury.

The legislature felt that extending the time limit for birth injuries was the only way to protect children who may have sustained a brain injury, which otherwise would have been unprovable until the child was older. Also, this law prevents a lot of unnecessary medical malpractice claims from being filed by parents who suspect a brain injury but later discover their child is fine.

So you have seven years from birth until the brain injury is diagnosed.

What if the Child has a Brain Injury? Can you Wait the Full Seven Years to Bring a Claim?

No, once the brain injury becomes apparent, then the time limit starts to begin. For example, if the parents suspect their child has a birth-related brain injury and at age three the doctors tell the parents, “Yes, your child has a brain injury from their birth,” then a two-year time limit to bring a claim starts.

What can You do to Extend the Time Limit to Bring a Medical Malpractice Claim in FL?

Since medical malpractice claims have a special “Pre-Suit” requirement, you can file a 90-day extension with the Clerk of the Court in the County where the claim can be brought. There is a filing fee to extend the time limit to the additional 90 days. The purpose of allowing the time extension is so the victim’s time limit is the full two years. The “Pre-Suit” period won’t subtract 90 days from your two-year time limit.

What is the Law About Seeing a Doctor within 14 Days After an Accident?

There is a law that requires people who are injured in a car accident to seek medical care within 14 days. If you don’t, you lose ten thousand dollars worth of PIP no-fault benefits. This law does not prevent you from bringing an injury claim. It only prevents the insurance company from having to pay some of your medical bills.

So even if you waived your PIP benefits, you won’t be penalized. When you bring a claim against the at-fault driver, failing to use your PIP benefits won’t hurt you. If you did use your PIP benefits, the at-fault driver would receive a credit for what your PIP paid (because the law wants to prevent a double recovery.) But if you don’t use any of your PIP benefits, you are not penalized.

If you File Suit & Drop it, Do you get More Time to File a 2nd Lawsuit?

The answer to this question is no. When you file a lawsuit, it only extends the time limit you have to resolve the claim until the end of that specific lawsuit. So, it does NOT give you more time to file a second lawsuit later. If you for some reason had to file a second lawsuit, you must file it within the time limit set forth for that particular type of claim.

What if You File a Lawsuit and Don’t Do Anything with it? How Long can it Linger?

Once you file a lawsuit in Florida, you have time limits to serve the lawsuit on the defendant. You must serve the defendant within 120 days. If you are having difficulties serving the defendant, you need to file a Motion for extra time. You cannot just file a lawsuit and let it sit on the court shelf. You can’t decide to do something with the claim at your leisure.

If you don’t do anything with your lawsuit, the court will dismiss it. You need to serve the defendant within 120 days. Also, if you file a lawsuit, serve the defendant, nobody does anything, and it sits dormant for over a year, the court may dismiss the whole lawsuit.

The court will give notice to the parties before dismissing the suit. This is to encourage the parties to take some action. You need to move the case towards a conclusion or drop the case altogether.

Quick Summary of Personal Injury Statute of Limitations:

One Year Time Limit to Bring the Following Types of Injury Claims:

  • Boating Accident
  • Cruise Ship Accident
  • Commercial Airline Accident
  • Admiralty Claim
  • Federal Tort Claim

Two-Year Time Limit to Bring the Following Types of Injury Claims:

  • Medical Malpractice
  • Pharmacy Malpractice
  • Nursing Malpractice
  • Wrongful Death
  • Legal Malpractice
  • Architectural Malpractice
  • Intentional Assault

Three and Half Year Time Limit to Bring the Following Type of Injury Claim:

  • Government Negligence

Four-Year Time Limit to Bring the Following Type of Injury Claims:

  • Car Accident
  • Motorcycle Accident
  • Trucking Accident
  • Dog Bite
  • Slip-and-Fall Accident
  • Nursing Home Neglect
  • Inadequate Security
  • Product Liability

Five-Year Time Limit to Bring the Following Type of Injury Claims:

  • Uninsured Motorist
  • Underinsured Motorist

Seven-Year Time Limit to Bring the Following Type of Injury Case:

  • Birth-Related Brain Injury

If you have a question about the personal injury statute of limitations, call me. My name is Matt Powell, and my phone number is 656-222-2222. I would be glad to discuss your specific circumstances.

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