Updates to the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in Florida

7Jul
Red leather Personal Injury Law book. Concept of updates to the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Florida

As of 2023, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Florida has undergone an update, shortening it from four years to two years from the time of the injury. The statute of limitations gives you a limited amount of time to file a claim or lawsuit against liable parties that caused a personal injury.

Red leather Personal Injury Law book. Concept of updates to the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Florida

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury in Florida?

The statute of limitations for personal injury in Florida is now two years from the date of the injury or discovery of the injury. This is shorter than it was previously, with the statute of limitations in Florida being four years until 2023.

In March 2023, the new statute of limitations became official when Florida Governor Ron DeSantis signed the relevant bill and turned it into law. The new law dictates that individuals must file a personal injury lawsuit within two years, after which point plaintiffs will no longer be able to file.

Every state, including Florida, has statutes of limitations for different types of cases. The new statute of limitations for personal injury cases also applies to other types of negligence cases. However, you may have more time to file a lawsuit if your case isn’t based on negligence.

If you believe you have a valid personal injury case, your personal injury lawyer can help determine what the statute of limitations is for your situation, and the types of negligence that may make your case negligence-based.

When Does the Clock Start for the Statute of Limitations?

In most cases, the statute of limitations begins when the injury occurs. Sometimes, however, the time limit to take legal action may not begin running out right away. If you were exposed to a toxic substance and did not realize you suffered injuries immediately after the exposure occurred, for instance, the clock may not begin ticking until your injury or illness is discovered.

There are also some exceptions that can extend the statute of limitations for certain cases. Specifically, these conditions would lead the courts to “toll” the statute of limitations, temporarily pausing it until the case can continue forward.

Exceptions resulting in tolling of the statute of limitations in Florida could include:

  • An absent or concealed defendant who is not present in Florida or is concealed while located in Florida. Defendants may either leave the state or hide their whereabouts to avoid the consequences of a case.
  • An individual who’s mentally incapacitated is involved in the case. This condition applies if the individual suffered mental incapacity before the injury developed.
  • Arbitration proceedings pertain to the personal injury dispute. Tolling in this situation would help plaintiffs and defendants resolve their disputes in another way outside of court.
  • A natural disaster causes government offices to temporarily close.

Filing a Claim Against a Government Entity

Some personal injury cases may involve negligence on the part of a government entity, enabling plaintiffs to sue the entity to recover compensation. For instance, someone may sustain injuries in a car accident resulting from poor road conditions that the local government was aware of and failed to address, leading the victim to sue this entity.

While these cases may seem similar to other negligence cases on the surface, they involve different procedures and statutes of limitation. If you want to file a claim against any local, state, or federal government entity, you should consult a personal injury attorney to discuss your options and the steps to proceed with a case.

Steps for Filing a Personal Injury Claim in Florida

If you need to file a personal injury claim, there are some specific steps you must take. The following process is what you can expect when filing a claim or lawsuit:

Collect as Much Evidence as Possible

One of the most important steps to take after an accident is to gather and organize as much evidence as you can to prove the injury and the negligence behind it. This evidence could include everything from photos and videos of the injuries and accident scene to medical records and witness statements.

If you don’t have access to all the necessary evidence to support your case, you may be able to hire a personal injury lawyer to assist with this. An attorney can discuss your case and determine what options are available to you when it comes to filing a claim. He or she may then work with you to gather and organize sufficient evidence that proves your claim.

Some crucial pieces of evidence in these cases include:

  • Medical records, bills, and receipts
  • Police reports
  • Witness testimony
  • Footage of injuries and the accident
  • Proof of lost income resulting from injuries
  • Proof of property damage, such as receipts for repairs and replacements

You can also maintain a pain journal that documents your experience with the recovery process following the incident. This documentation could go a long way in helping you prove the non-economic damages resulting from the injury, including any pain and suffering you experience.

Get Medical Attention

Even if your injuries appear minor following an accident, you should seek treatment as soon as you can. Not only will taking this step help put you on the road to recovery, but it will also provide you with invaluable medical records.

A doctor will perform a thorough examination and diagnose any injuries you sustained. He or she will then generate medical records and bills that you can use as evidence in your personal injury case. This evidence is crucial, as defendants in a case are likely to work to show that you have not sustained injuries or that your injuries are less severe than you claim. Seeking immediate medical attention can also help confirm that you sustained your injuries at the time of the incident and not later.

Consult an Attorney

It’s important to know when to get a personal injury lawyer. After gathering any evidence available to you and seeking medical attention, you should schedule a consultation with a personal injury lawyer. This step will help you determine whether you have a viable case, and hiring an attorney can increase your chances of succeeding with a claim or lawsuit.

An attorney will likely meet with you in a free consultation. Most personal injury lawyers work on a contingency fee basis, which means they won’t receive any payment unless they reach a settlement on your behalf. This fee ensures that attorneys work for their clients and keeps clients from paying for legal services if the attorney fails to reach a settlement. This model also makes attorneys more diligent when determining which cases are worth handling.

During the consultation, the attorney will ask about your case. He or she will need to learn as many details as you can provide. If the attorney decides to handle your case, he or she will then represent you throughout the rest of the claims or legal process. This lawyer will be able to negotiate settlements with defendants and insurers based on what your case is actually worth. If the case needs to go to court, you should also ensure your attorney has the ability to take your case to trial.

Even if your case seems straightforward and easy to win, these cases often get complex and involve many aspects that can influence the outcome. If you attempt to settle without the help of an attorney, you may inadvertently compromise your case at some point during the claims or lawsuit process.

Send a Demand Letter

With the help of your attorney, you can send a demand letter to the liable party that details what kind of settlement you want to reach based on all damages sustained. The demand letter should account for your medical bills, lost wages, and other direct and indirect costs stemming from your injuries. Typically, this demand letter will go to the defendant’s insurance company, which will likely be the party that pays out during negotiations.

Begin Negotiating

After the recipient of the demand letter issues a response, you can begin negotiations between your attorney and the liable party. Insurers often work to minimize or deny claims to avoid paying out, but your lawyer will be able to decline “lowball” offers and work to prove the real value of your claim. If you accept the initial offer from insurers, you may be unable to recover any additional compensation in the future.

Go to Trial

Sometimes cases won’t settle during negotiations, leading to a lawsuit. This is often the case when the insurance company fails to offer a fair settlement. Your attorney may decide to initiate an injury lawsuit if needed, which will extend the case, but helps you get a fair settlement.

Don’t Wait to File

With the new two-year statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Florida, you shouldn’t wait to file a personal injury claim. Your attorney will need ample time to build a strong case against the negligent party. The sooner you retain an attorney and file your claim, the better your chances are of avoiding running out of time.

Photo of Jim Magazine
James (Jim) Magazine is a Florida Board Certified Civil Trial lawyer who has spent his career helping injured victims. Jim is licensed to practice law in the State of Florida since 1990 and is also admitted to practice at the Appellate level and admitted to the United States Supreme Court.