• Lisa Brown

Is There a Time Limit for Filing a Lawsuit in a Florida Car Accident Case?

If you’ve been injured in a Florida car accident and are unable to settle your claim with the insurance company, you can attempt to pursue compensation for your injuries through a personal injury lawsuit.   All lawsuits in Florida must be filed by a certain time after the incident giving rise to the claim occurred.   This timeframe is called the statute of limitations.

The statute of limitations for every kind of claim can be found in Florida statute section 95.11.  Generally speaking, most personal injury lawsuits are governed by a four-year statute of limitations period.   This means that a complaint must be filed within four years, or you will be unable to pursue legal action.  Of course, there are exceptions to these rules.  Some exceptions apply to the time the lawsuit must be filed, while others apply to when the time period begins to run.  For example, the statute of limitations for a car accident claim is four years, and it begins to run from the date of the crash.  On the other hand, the statute of limitations for a medical malpractice claim, which is also a negligence claim, is two years and begins to run from the date of the discovery of the malpractice.

The following are time limitations that could apply to your personal injury claim:

  1. Negligence – 4 years

  2. Personal Injury – 4 years

  3. Product liability – 2, 4 or 5 years

  4. Wrongful Death – 2 years

  5. Medical Malpractice – 2 years

Given the severe penalty for failing to comply with the statute of limitations, it is important that you consult with an attorney as soon as possible after your accident or after you discover that you may have a claim.

Can a Statute of Limitations Period be Extended?

There are certain circumstances by which a statute of limitations period may be extended or tolled.   For example, there are situations where an individual may not be aware of his or her injury right away.  In such a case, the discovery rule may apply to allow the statute of limitations to begin running from the date of discovery, or the date you should have discovered the injury with reasonable care.  Please note, the discovery rule only applies in limited situations.

There are also situations in which the statute of limitations may be tolled.  This means that it is suspended or extended for some specific period of time.   These circumstances are found in Florida statute 95.051.   With respect to personal injury actions, the statute of limitations may be tolled under the following circumstances:

  1. Absence from the state of the person to be sued.

  2. Use by the person to be sued of a false name that is unknown to the person entitled to sue so that process cannot be served on the person to be sued.

  3. Concealment in the state of the person to be sued so that process cannot be served on him or her.

  4. The adjudicated incapacity, before the cause of action accrued, of the person entitled to sue. In any event, the action must be begun within seven years after the act, event, or occurrence giving rise to the cause of action.

  5. The pendency of any arbitral proceeding pertaining to a dispute that is the subject of the action.

Of course, as with most things involving the law, there are exceptions to these tolling provisions as well.   This is why it is even more important to consult a Ruskin personal injury attorney right away.

Can I Contract with Another Person to Shorten or Extend a Statute of Limitations Period?

Although some states may permit parties to a contract to include a provision seeking to alter a statute of limitations period, in Florida this is prohibited.  Florida statute 95.03 provides that “any provision in a contract fixing the period of time within which an action arising out of the contract may be begun at a time less than that provided by the applicable statute of limitations is void.”  Accordingly, any attempt to alter a statute of limitations period will likely fail.

Free Information

If you have questions about your Florida accident case, you can download our Free Reports:

  1. Your Guide to Florida Car Accident Claims;

  2. The Ultimate Guide to Florida Slip and Fall Cases; and

  3. 5 Medical Mistakes That Will Destroy Your Personal Injury Case

which are available at our website, or you can click the link provided.  You can also contact us at (813)419-3866 to talk directly to a Ruskin personal injury attorney now.

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