You may be entitled to compensation if you’ve been injured in a Miami accident. However, your right to file a lawsuit won’t last forever. In fact, you could be barred from getting the money you deserve if you wait too long to file your claim. Why? Like other states, Florida imposes a strict statute of limitations on all personal injury cases.
What is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a restriction on the amount of time that a lawsuit can be filed after you suffer an unexpected injury. Think of it as an imaginary countdown clock. The clock begins to run the moment you’re involved in an accident.
You have until time runs out to file a civil lawsuit for damages against the person who is responsible for your injuries. Once time runs out, you forfeit your right to file a lawsuit and recover compensation.
How Long is the Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Cases?
Florida law imposes different statutes of limitations for different personal injury cases. The amount of time you’ll have to file your claim will really depend on:
- The type of injury you’ve suffered, and
- What caused your injury.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the most commonly invoked statutes of limitations in Florida personal injury cases.
- Bodily Injury: 4 years from the date of your accident
- Property Damage: 4 years from the date of your accident
- Medical Malpractice: 2 years from the date of injury
- Product Liability: 2, 4, or 5 years from the date you discover your injury
- Wrongful Death: 2 years from the date of the victim’s death
- Birth Injury: Claims must be filed before the injured child’s 8th birthday
Not sure which statute of limitations applies to your Miami personal injury case? Protect your right to file a lawsuit by contacting an experienced Miami injury lawyer right away.
Claims Against the Government Follow Different Rules
There may be times when the government’s negligence is responsible for your injury. In these situations, you have the right to file a claim and obtain compensation from the government. However, personal injury lawsuits involving a government agency or entity follow different rules.
If you’ve suffered a bodily injury, you won’t have four years to file your claim. Instead, you’ll have three years. In addition to this limited timeframe, you must also file your claim with the government agency itself and the Florida Department of Financial Services.
The government then has 180 days to decide whether or not it believes it is responsible for your injury. If they deny your claim, you can then file a traditional personal injury lawsuit in a Florida civil court.
Tolling the Statute of Limitations
What happens if you can’t file a lawsuit right away due to circumstances that are beyond your control? There are times when the statute of limitations can be tolled. Tolling simply means that the statute of limitations is paused for a period of time. The statute of limitations will begin to run one the tolling factor – or thing preventing you from filing your lawsuit – is no longer an issue.
You may be able to toll the statute of limitations in your personal injury lawsuit if:
- The defendant is absent from the state of Florida
- The defendant in your case provided a false name and can’t be identified
- The defendant in your case can’t be located
- You were a minor at the time of your accident, or
- There was a reasonable delay in the discovery of your injury.
For example, let’s say you were involved in a Miami car accident. The driver who caused the crash fled the scene and can’t be found. The state may agree to extend the amount of time you have to file your lawsuit until the driver can be located.
Courts ultimately have discretion in deciding when a statute of limitations begins to run and if there are circumstances that should permit tolling.