Attorney David I. Fuchs
Aug. 31, 2016
In the state of Florida, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims – the deadline for filing a lawsuit – is 4 years for claims against private individuals and entities, and 3 years for claims against public entities such as the government or various government agencies. The statute of limitations period begins to run on the date of the injury-causing incident, except in certain personal injury cases involving product liability claims (where the delayed discovery rule may apply). If you think that your case may meet an exception for the statute of limitations in Florida, contact David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A. to schedule a free initial consultation with a personal injury lawyer. (954) 568-3636.
For more information on the delayed discovery rule, see our introductory article on the personal injury statute of limitations.
Understanding and abiding by the statute of limitations is crucial to the success of a personal injury lawsuit. If you wait too long to file your lawsuit and the applicable statute of limitations period runs out, then you will no longer be legally entitled to litigate your claim and recover damages for your injuries, even if you have a strong claim. It is therefore always good policy to consult with a qualified personal injury attorney as soon as possible after an accident, so that your claims can be identified and assessed, and your lawsuit can be filed in a timely manner.
Fortunately, all may not be lost if you have waited too long to consult with an attorney and to file a lawsuit. Depending on the circumstances, the court may extend, suspend, or toll the statute of limitations, thus preventing the destruction of your claims.
Tolling the statute of limitations period is simply another way of saying that the limitations period has been “put on pause,” or suspended. When the statute of limitations is tolled, the plaintiff is given additional time to file a lawsuit.
Absence or concealment of the defendant
The statute of limitations will be tolled for a period of time during which the defendant is absent from the state of Florida. If the defendant is located in the state of Florida, but is being concealed so as to prevent the service of process upon them, then the limitations period may also be tolled. This tolling exception is intended to support plaintiffs who are dealing with irresponsible defendants who needlessly drag out and evade service of process.
Mentally incapacitated or incompetent persons may have their limitations period tolled so long as the mental incapacity existed prior to the injury. Mental incapacity resulting from the injury does not qualify for tolling. A determination will have to be made as to the incapacity or incompetency of the plaintiff before tolling is allowed.
Importantly, though the limitations period may be tolled for mental incapacity, it cannot be tolled indefinitely. Florida imposes a hard deadline for personal injury actions – they must be brought within 7 years of the date of injury.
If there is a pending arbitration proceeding related to the personal injury dispute at-issue, then the statute of limitations period will be tolled until the arbitration is complete. This tolling provision is intended to encourage plaintiffs and defendants to engage in arbitration as an alternative means for dispute resolution.
Though Florida law provides for tolling in certain specific circumstances, the running of the statute of limitations is a significant danger. Plaintiffs with legitimate claims can lose their right to file a lawsuit and recover for their injuries.
If you or someone you love has been injured as the result of someone else’s wrongful acts or omissions, seek legal guidance from a skilled Fort Lauderdale personal injury lawyer at David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A..