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Statute of Limitations in Florida for Personal Injury

September 24, 2017

Waiting to contact an attorney can be costly for some personal injury victims.  As times goes by, evidence may be lost, memories fade, investigators may take statements, and insurance companies may pressure you to settle.  Waiting may even cost you your case.  Contacting Bryan W. Crews, an Altamonte Spring personal injury lawyer, immediately after an injury or accident could mean avoiding a complete bar to recovery.

Statutes of limitation give plaintiffs a limited amount of time to sue, or they forfeit their claim.  In Florida, § 95.11 covers the statutes of limitation in personal injury cases.  The facts and circumstances of your claim will dictate which statute of limitation applies.  Some injuries may require that you bring a claim in as little as two years before being barred from recovery.

How long do I have to file my claim?

Claims for negligence must commence within four years from the date of the injury.  Negligence is carelessness, or an unreasonable course of action that results in injury to the plaintiff.  Other more specific claims give plaintiffs less time.

Plaintiffs bringing an “action for professional malpractice,” according to the statute, have two years.  Unlike the general negligence deadline, personal injury claims against professionals may be brought “from the time the cause of action is discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence.”  Meaning, some injuries do not manifest themselves right away, and when they do, plaintiffs may not know the cause of their injury either.  The Florida legislature allows what is often called tolling.  Tolling puts a pause on the clock.  It would be unfair to start the two year time window from the date of the accident if you do not know you are injured, or do not know the source of your injury.

This is particularly important in medical malpractice cases.  A common instance of medical malpractice is leaving surgical material inside of a patient.  Every year thousands of patients suffer when a sponge or medical instrument is sown up inside of a patient.  This particular injury is prone for later discovery because the offense is out of sight.  Florida law requires medical malpractices claims to be filed within two years from the date of the incident, or two years from when the injury is discovered.  However, the statute also provides that “in no event shall the action be commenced later than 4 years from the date of the incident.”

Negligence or injury can occur over a period of time, and a series of events may be relevant to establishing liability in your case.  In Silva v. Baptist Health South Florida, Inc., the United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit applied Florida’s statute of limitations for negligence.  There, the court ruled that events occurring prior to the statute of limitations could not be used to establish liability, but could be used to determine “whether the hospitals had the requisite knowledge to establish deliberate indifference during Plaintiffs’ subsequent hospital visits.”

Bryan W. Crews and his dedicate staff are standing by to assist the needs of personal injury victims in Altamonte Spring and throughout the state of Florida.  Do not hesitate to contact Bryan W. Crews for a case evaluation.

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