When you suffer from a personal injury that is caused due to the negligence of another party, you should consider filing a lawsuit as soon as possible. But before you do that, you’ll need to gather enough evidence, such as photographs, written eyewitness accounts, etc., and contact a knowledgeable attorney.
However, if it has been a while since your injury occurred or if you’ve discovered an injury sometime after the accident and are wondering if you still can file an insurance claim or lawsuit, then you should make yourself aware of the statute of limitations.
A statute of limitations is essentially a deadline, set by each state, of when you can file a lawsuit in civil court against another party that may be legally at fault for your injury.
When Is the Standard Filing Deadline for Personal Injuries in Florida?
According to Florida Statutes section 95.11(3)(a), underneath personal injury cases, you’ll have four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit seeking legal remedy in the state’s civil courts for “an action founded on negligence.” Almost all types of personal injury lawsuits fall underneath this umbrella.
Missing the Deadline
Unfortunately, if you exceed the time limit, you’ll have your case dismissed in court, as you’ll have lost your legal right to seek damages, no matter how significant these damages are or how clear the defendant’s liability is. Very rarely will you have a case – for instance, discovering an injury past the deadline – where you’ll be able to file for a deadline extension.
Overall, the deadline serves as leverage for your case against the defendant and their insurance company, and if you let the deadline pass, you’ll lose that leverage.
Comparative Negligence in the State of Florida
If you’re in any way at fault for causing your injuries, that fact will play a pivotal role in how much compensation you receive from the defendant.
This is because Florida has a pure comparative negligence rule. This rule states that the amount of money that is equal to your percentage of fault will be deducted from the amount you receive in compensation.
For example, if you are suing someone for an injury you received during an accident and you’re found to be 20% negligent, then the amount you receive will be reduced by 20%. In layman’s terms, you’re only entitled to an 80% reward of your total recovery.
Exceptions to the Florida Statute of Limitations
As mentioned, there are exceptions to these limitations. When these circumstances occur, the filing deadline can be modified. Here are some circumstances to consider:
- The injured person is legally declared incapacitated – in other words, subject to mental illness – at the time of the accident. If that is the case, then you’ll have seven years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit.
- The defendant changed his or her identity to prevent him or herself from being served by the court.
- The defendant has fled Florida after the incident but before the lawsuit is filed.