Understanding the Exceptions to Florida’s Statute of Limitations
The general rule in Florida is that negligence lawsuits must be filed within four years of the date of the injury, and wrongful death lawsuits must be filed within two years of the date of the death. This is called the statute of limitations. If you miss this deadline, then you won’t be able to recover compensation for your injuries. But, as with most rules, there are some limited exceptions to the usual filing deadlines.
The Discovery Rule
Injuries aren’t always readily apparent. In those cases, the statute of limitations doesn’t begin to run until the victim discovers — or should have discovered — the injury. For example, traumatic brain injury symptoms sometimes don’t manifest until days, weeks or even months after an accident. An effective attorney can argue that your four-year filing deadline shouldn’t begin to run until the injury is discovered.
Tolling of Statute of Limitations Period
“Tolling” the statute of limitations is a fancy way of saying the deadline is extended. The deadline is delayed under the following circumstances:
- The defendant (the person you’re trying to sue) is not in the state.
- Process can’t be served because the defendant is using a false name that you don’t know, or the defendant is hiding and can’t be found.
- You’re a minor (under 18 years old) when the injury happens. In that case the lawsuit must be filed within seven years of the incident.
There are other situations in which the statute of limitations might be tolled. Figuring out how long you have to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit can be complicated, which is why you should consult with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
How Is Process Served?
Service of process is the procedure that a party filing a lawsuit must use to notify the defendant that he or she is being sued. Florida has specific rules in place to make sure process is served consistently and that everyone’s legal rights are protected. An experienced attorney can explain those procedures and ensure that your lawsuit is initiated correctly.
Can Minors Even File Personal Injury Lawsuits?
Generally, only adults can file personal injury lawsuits in Florida. While a child’s parents or legal guardians may file a lawsuit on the child’s behalf, the statute of limitations is tolled if the child doesn’t have a parent or guardian, the parent or guardian’s interests are adverse to the child’s, or the parent or guardian is incapacitated and unable to sue on the child’s behalf.
Contact Us Today
Contact an Orlando personal injury attorney at The Pendas Law Firm today for a free consultation if you were injured by someone’s negligence or if a loved one was wrongfully killed. We will help file your lawsuit within the prescribed time frame and help recover the compensation that you deserve, including medical costs, funeral expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
The Pendas Law Firm also represents clients in the West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Jacksonville, Fort Myers, Tampa, Miami, Daytona Beach and Bradenton areas.