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Statute of Limitations: How Long Do I Have to Sue?

If you are one of the thousands of Americans each year who has been injured due to the carelessness of someone else, then you may have the legal right to sue and recover damages. Unfortunately, many people are unaware that if too much time has gone by since their injury, it may be too late to file a lawsuit. The law provides specific time frames on when a lawsuit can be filed. Depending on the type of lawsuit, that time frame may be as little as one year from the incident giving rise to the lawsuit (e.g. the accident). Let’s examine Florida’s statute of limitations laws as it relates to some common lawsuits.

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

Most legal actions in the United States can only be filed in court if the cause of the action occurred before a predetermined amount of time. For example, in Florida, lawsuits alleging negligence must be filed within four years from the date of the incident. The four-year window is known as the statute of limitations.

These time restrictions on when a suit can be filed apply to most civil causes of action. However, different causes of action have varying statutes of limitations.

It is important to remember that while these time restrictions are fairly set, there are exceptions that might allow for a suit to be filed late. This does not mean that you should sleep on your rights. You should consult with an attorney to determine if the statute of limitations in your case has expired and if there is an exception that may be applicable to your individual situation.

Car Accidents

Lawsuits come about from car accidents all the time. While Florida law mandates that all drivers carry insurance, sometimes the coverage simply is insufficient, or the responsible party has let it lapse. Additionally, it is not uncommon for insurance companies to propose an inadequate settlement offer that does not cover the full cost of your damages. In those situations, it may be necessary for you to file suit in order to be fully compensated for your injuries and damages.

Florida law gives plaintiffs in car accident lawsuits four years from the date of the accident to file suit. Once the four-year window has expired, you may be precluded (also known as time-barred) from bringing a lawsuit.

If you believe that you have suffered damages as the result of a car accident in the State of Florida, then it is crucial that you immediately consult with a personal injury attorney to ensure that your right to seek compensation is protected.

Slip & Fall Cases

Another common cause of legal action is slip and fall cases. These cases typically revolve around injuries suffered due to a fall on someone else’s property. Like car accident cases, Florida law allows for lawsuits that arise from a slip and fall to be brought within four years from the date of the incident. It should also be noted that any claims for property damage which is caused by the slip and fall must be brought within the four-year window.

Slip and fall cases commonly involve businesses and corporations. As it is sometimes difficult to determine who the responsible party is, if you have been injured due to a slip and fall, you should immediately consult with a personal injury attorney to start the legal process before it is too late.

Medical Malpractice

For causes of action that arise out of medical malpractice, Florida law limits the filing of lawsuits to two years from the date in which you knew (or should have known) that the injury occurred and that there was a reasonable possibility that the injury was caused by medical malpractice.

Florida also has what is known as a statute of repose concerning medical malpractice. This law states that unless fraud was involved, an action for medical malpractice cannot be brought after four years from the date of the incident. What this means is that if you discover malpractice more than four years after your incident, then you might be precluded from bringing a malpractice lawsuit against your health care provider.

Medical malpractice cases are often complex and typically involve experts and extended investigations. If you suspect that you have suffered injuries or damages as the result of medical malpractice, it is imperative that you consult with an attorney as soon as possible.

We Can Help

The law surrounding statutes of limitations can be confusing and nuanced. An attorney who is familiar with these laws can assess your case and determine the appropriate time to file suit. The lawyers at The Watson Firm are here to help you navigate these complex laws and to give you the guidance and direction that you need to make sure your case is timely and professionally handled.

If you have any questions about your case, feel free to call (850) 403-4779 or contact us online today to consult with experienced counsel.