Statute of Limitations Explained
Personal injury law has a variety of defenses that dictate if a claim may be brought at all, or alternatively, if the plaintiff’s recovery may be reduced. For example, a plaintiff might fail to establish a claim for negligence in their case because they lack one of the elements required to prove the defendant is a responsible party for their injuries. This usually results in the lawsuit being dismissed. Another possibility is that a plaintiff is found to be partially at fault in an accident. The amount of compensation received for the accident is reduced according to the respective contribution. So if you were awarded $30,000 for damages, but were found to be 33% at fault, you will receive $20,000. Time can also prevent a plaintiff from suing – this is governed by the statute of limitations.
Statute of Limitations as a Defense
Statute of limitations are “legislative acts that restrict the time that a legal action may be brought.” The time limit “begins to run from the moment of the injury, the date it was discovered, or the date that it would have been discovered with reasonable efforts.” These type of statutes are engineered to protect against stale claims, whereby evidence has largely been destroyed, mislaid, or lost. It is also possible that statute of limitations come from the common law. The type of case dictates the correlated statute of limitations’ time frame.
Below are some examples of the length of statute of limitations in Florida based on various injuries:
– Four years to file a personal injury claim based on negligence.
– Two years to file a medical malpractice action from the time the incident giving rise to the action occurred or within two years from the time the incident is discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence.
– Two years to bring an action for wrongful death.
– Four years to bring an action for assault, battery, false arrest, malicious prosecution, malicious interference, false imprisonment, or any other intentional tort.
The list above highlights some of the more common causes of actions that fall under the purview of personal injury law and is not intended to be a comprehensive overview of all the possible time limits. Please note that statute of limitations also vary among each state’s laws. Always seek the advice of an experienced personal injury lawyer so as to ensure an accurate calculation of the statute of limitations and how it applies to your case.
A Final Note
The law regarding time limits to filing lawsuits does not always end at statute of limitations analysis. Sometimes an additional legal doctrine, called a statute of repose, applies as well. The goal of this law is to prevent a claim against a defendant for his actions after a certain time frame, even if the plaintiff has yet to be injured. The major distinction here is that the repose period is triggered by a specific event – namely, the defendant’s action – as opposed to the statute of limitations, which are triggered when the plaintiff “discovers” an injury.
Have you suffered an injury? Don’t let the statute of limitations expire without recovering compensation. Reach out to the Fort Lauderdale attorneys at Boone & Davis for help with your case.