Deadlines for Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit in Florida

Legal claims do not last forever.  Claims are only actionable for a limited period of time to ensure that the integrity of evidence is preserved and that defendants are not exposed to unexpected lawsuits many years after the precipitating event.

The statute of limitations sets a deadline by which the plaintiff (the victim) must file a lawsuit.  If you do not file the lawsuit by the time the applicable statute of limitations period runs out, you will no longer be entitled to litigate your claim.  It does not matter if the legitimacy of your claim is obvious.  You must file your lawsuit before the deadline, or risk forfeiting it.

In Florida, the statute of limitations period for most standard personal injury claims is four years after the date of the accident.  For personal injury claims brought against public entity defendants (e.g., local, state, or federal government, or agencies and departments thereof), the statute of limitations period is three years to put the entity on notice and four years to file the lawsuit.

Public Entity Defendants

Early on, it can be particularly difficult to assess whether your claims will involve a public entity defendant.

Suppose, for example, that you are involved in a motor vehicle pileup on a local expressway.  Initially, fault may seem to lie with private individual drivers.  After some investigation, however, it is revealed that the pileup was caused by a city bus driver who was negligently speeding and lost control.

This would likely make the city government a defendant, and as such, you would have three years to provide notice to the city government and four years from the incident to file suit.

Thus, it is good policy to seek the counsel of an experienced Fort Lauderdale injury lawyer as soon as possible, so that the nature of your claim can be fully and accurately assessed, and a lawsuit filed.

The Delayed Discovery Rule

Florida law provides limited recourse in the event that you discover your injuries some time after the incident which caused them.  In personal injury cases involving product liability (e.g., a dangerous and defective product), the delayed discovery rule applies: if it was not reasonably possible for you to discover your injuries until some later time, then the statute of limitations period will not begin to run until you actually discovered your injuries.  Unfortunately, the delayed discovery rule does not apply to standard personal injury claims – only those related to product liability.

For further clarity, consider the following.

Suppose that you are rear-ended by a drunk driver while stopped at a red light.  Luckily, the accident was low speed, and thus you were not obviously injured at the time of the accident.  After the accident, you visit your doctor to ensure that no injuries have occurred.  A quick check-up by the doctor reveals no abnormalities.

A year later, however, you begin to develop some spinal issues.  You revisit the doctor and find that the rear-end accident set off delayed spinal degeneration.  It was not reasonably possible for you to discover this injury until later on, but because this is a standard personal injury case, the delayed discovery rule is not likely to apply.  Florida courts have made it clear that the delayed discovery rule is meant to apply in a very limited manner, and only to product liability cases.

In the above example, if the car was defectively designed or manufactured such that it substantially caused the delayed spinal degeneration injury, then you might be able to take advantage of the delayed discovery rule.

The Statute of Repose

Even if your personal injury case involves product liability claims and your limitations period runs from the date of discovery, in Florida there is an ultimate statute of repose that sets a hard deadline for all product liability claims.  The statute of repose deadline is twelve years after the product was first sold.

It is worth reiterating: the twelve-year statute of repose is a hard deadline for product liability actions in Florida.  If your injury does not manifest itself until twelve years after the product was first sold on the market, the statute of repose will apply and your claim will no longer be actionable.

Personal injury lawsuits must be filed within the appropriate statute of limitations period.  If you delay for too long, you may not be legally entitled to litigate your claim and recover for your 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 personal injury lawyer at David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A..

Client Testimonials

“…the settlement I received was much higher than anticipated”

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Sean O.
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It’s been a long bumpy road to recovery but with David and his office’s help, we finally got it done! Through a great network of professionals, David Fuchs makes a good experience out of what could’ve been quite a headache. Not only did I get the medical attention I needed but I was compensated handsomely. Thank you!

Giovanni G.
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Sheila N.
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Evans P.
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“Mr. Fuchs and his staff were very helpful.”

I highly recommend Law offices of David Fuchs. Mr. Fuchs and his staff were very helpful. The case was handled in a timely manner and I was always informed if there were any changes or updates with my case.

Velouse G.
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“Mr. Fuchs is one of the hardest working attorneys that I know.”

Mr. Fuchs is one of the hardest working attorneys that I know. He is really good at what he does and puts 110% in you case. I have been using him for 19 years now and refer all my friends to him. I can leave him alone with my case and not call him all the time. I know he is working hard in my case. When he has any information he calls me and we go from there. There are not a lot of attorneys I can do that with! If you have any Personal Injuries please do call him. You won’t be disappointed!!

Libby E.
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“I would definitely refer to this firm as the go-to Florida personal injury gurus.”

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Donna M.
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Yvette W.
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Jonathan Z.
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It has been an unexpected journey since stepping foot in Florida. Never did I imagine myself getting into an accident. I just want to thank the staff and all the support. The Therapy the doctors; you guys were awesome and made me feel better in my situation. This the first time I ever experience such a thing but I’m blessed , thankful and behind it all DAVID FUCHS who made it happen for me.

Sade P.
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A Boone
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N. Hit
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“He was able to settle my case with little to no trouble and did so in a very professional manner.”

David Fuchs was my car accident attorney. He was able to settle my case with little to no trouble and did so in a very professional manner. I would highly recommend him to others.

Samantha D.
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I got into an accident for the first time and I didn’t know what do or how things works, but I was lucky to find a professional and helpful people to guide through this experience.
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Karen G.
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“Very professional. Had no problems with communication”
Zuberi L.
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“He was there every time I called and got me a great settlement.”

I was in a car accident and looking for a professional, caring attorney.I was fortunate to find Mr. Fuchs, who helped me through the whole process. He was there every time I called and got me a great settlement.

Joan K.
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“My settlement was fast, fair and professionally handled.”

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Willie M.
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J. Hernandez
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S. Rodriguez
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I was in an accident mid last year and Mr. Fuchs handled my case and his case manager[s] Yessi and Jessica were very informative as to the process. They got me my settlement pretty quickly and worked hard on my case for me. Mr. Fuchs was extremely knowledgeable and informed me of everything that would happen in my case. I will recommend this firm to my family and friends and i will be using their services in future if need be.

Pastor D.
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