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Florida Statute of Limitations for Injury Claims & the Discovery Rule

floridaLike every other state, Florida has a specific statute of limitations when it comes to personal injury claims. The statute of limitations is defined as a state or federal time limit in which a legal proceeding can be brought. It is designed to encourage individuals to act in a timely manner and not pursue claims too long after the incident occurs, when there is a potential that evidence is lost and memory has become stale.

In the state of Florida, a personal injury claim must be filed within four years from the date of the accident in the state’s civil courts. This law is codified in Florida Statutes 95.11. If this time period passes and you do not take legal action, unless an exception applies, you lose your right to file a lawsuit and seek damages altogether. In other words, if the statute of limitations expires, you will be barred from filing a lawsuit.

Time frames differ slightly when you are pursuing legal action against a city, county, or state government. 

For medical malpractice cases, the plaintiff has two years from the date of the injury or two years from the date that the injury should have been discovered. However, malpractice actions are completely prohibited more than four years after the act causing the injury. This applies to minors from the age of eight years old and older.

It is important to note that in some cases, it is not reasonably possible for an individual to know the cause of an injury or even that an injury took place until much later, when the effects of the injury start to manifest themselves. In this type of case, the “discovery rule” allows a lawsuit to be filed within a certain time frame after the injury is discovered or should have been discovered.

For example, if a surgeon mistakenly left a medical instrument in a patient’s abdomen, but that is not discovered until a subsequent medical procedure, the patient will be allowed to file a lawsuit against the surgeon because he or she had no reason to know what happened. In such a scenario, the patient’s lack of knowledge is not unreasonable. Fairness would require that the statute of limitations start to run when the patient “discovered” the mistake rather than when the surgeon actually made the mistake. Alternatively, if the patient was experiencing abdominal after the initial surgery but failed to seek medical treatment, his or her lawsuit may be prohibited because a reasonable person would have sought medical attention upon experiencing such pain and would have discovered the cause.

As a practical matter, the discovery rule will not come up often.

Statute of limitations issues can seem straightforward but can actually be very complex and nuanced. If your attorney is not vigilant about legal timelines as well as potential exceptions that could apply in your case, you could lose your legal rights altogether. Robert Dixon is a highly qualified Miami accident attorney who will work diligently to assess the facts of your case and take action in a timely manner. If you or someone you know has suffered an injury due to the negligence of another, it is best to contact a skilled attorney immediately. To learn more, contact us online or call us today at 1-877-499-HURT (4878) for a free, confidential consultation.

More Blog Posts:

The Concept of “Proximate Cause” in Florida Personal Injury Claims, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, October 31, 2014

The Role of “Med Pay” in Florida Slip and Fall Accidents, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, October 21, 2014

Dealing with Tire Blowout Accidents in Florida, South Florida Injury Lawyer Blawg, October 21, 2014