The term statute of limitations refers to the time within which lawsuits can be filed for any civil or criminal matter. When it comes to Florida civil law, the number of years plaintiffs have to file a case can vary greatly. In spite of the many rules that seem etched in stone, a number of exceptions help protect the rights injury victims have to take legal action.
Florida law contains a seemingly endless list of time limitations based on the details of any given case. Generally, personal injury victims in Florida must take legal action within four years. Wrongful death and certain other actions must be brought within two years. However, this does not necessarily mean the clock starts ticking on the date of the accident. Consider the following two common strategies attorneys use to extend the statute of limitations:
Differences between the accident date and the date injury is discovered — Not all injuries show symptoms immediately. For example, an illness may manifest itself long after exposure to a dangerous chemical. The law starts the statute of limitations clock based “on the time the incident is discovered, or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence.” A reasonable delay in discovery does not eliminate your rights to take legal action.
Tolling — Certain situations can essentially stop the clock for a certain time period. This is known as tolling. One common reason for tolling is when the injury victim is a minor at the time of the incident. Additionally, if the liable party in the accident files bankruptcy, it is possible to toll the statute of limitations until the bankruptcy stay is lifted.
The requirements for filing Florida claims can be complex and confusing, so you should not let timing concerns stop you from taking steps to pursue compensation.