3 Questions About Florida’s Statute of Limitations

What is a statute of limitations?

A statute of limitations is a  law that places a deadline on when you can file a claim in Court. Think of a statute of limitations as a countdown timer. In car accident cases, your timer starts as soon as you are involved in an accident or learn that you have suffered damages as a result of an accident. If you want to file a lawsuit because of the car accident, you have to do so before the clock reaches zero. In a contract action, the timer begins to run at the time that one of the parties breached or failed to perform under the contract In a wrongful death claim, the timer begins to run on the date of death.

How much time do I have to file a lawsuit?

The amount of time that you have to file a lawsuit depends on the nature of the claim and there are other factors that can modify the claim. Here are a few of the specific time limits*:
  • Car accident claim is 4 years
  • Slip and fall claim is 4 years
  • Wrongful death claim is 2 years
  • Contract claim is 5 years
  • Medical malpractice claim is 2 years, however, certain circumstances can extend the date.
  • If the car accident claim involves a governmental agency, you have to give notice to the governmental agency within 3-years but the statute of limitations is still four year. However, if you don’t give timely and adequate notice otherwise  you lose your ability to file a lawsuit.
  • Section 1983 claim is 4 years.

What happens if I file a case after the statute of limitations runs out?

Unless you have some way around the time limit, you will lose your ability to file the claim. Some types of claims are based on the discovery of the problem so the actual time the clock starts to run can be ambiguous  If you file your lawsuit after the statute of limitations time limit has expired, all the defendant has to do to win the case is show that you were late, and the court will probably dismiss the case or enter judgment on behalf of the defendant.
The statute of limitations is one of the reasons you should talk to personal injury lawyer shortly after the incident, even if you think you do not want to file a claim.
If you have any questions about a Leesburg Florida personal injury matter, you can always give me a call at 352-329-0329.
* specific factual scenarios can alter the statute of limitations so it is best of speak to a lawyer and not to rely on this general information.