Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury in Tampa, FL
If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence in Tampa, you have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover financial compensation for your losses. However, it’s important to understand how Florida’s statute of limitations could affect your ability to sue.
A statute of limitations is a law that defines the amount of time injured victims have to file lawsuits against at-fault parties. In other words, it’s a legal time limit or deadline for taking certain types of legal action. If you fail to file your lawsuit before the relevant statute of limitations expires, you could lose your rights to compensation.
While there is a set statute of limitations for personal injury claims in Florida, there are also some exceptions to the rule. To find out how the law applies in your case, contact an experienced personal injury lawyer at Brooks Law Group for a free consultation. Call us today.
How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Claim in Tampa?
Personal injury claims filed in Florida are generally subject to a two-year, four-year, or five-year statute of limitations. However, there may be exceptions or limits to these deadlines depending on the nature of your claim.
The following list outlines common types of personal injury claims and the statute of limitations that may apply to each:
Motor vehicle accident claims
If you were injured in a Tampa car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle, or pedestrian accident involving another driver who was at fault, you generally have four years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit, with certain exceptions.
First, if the motor vehicle accident results in the wrongful death of a loved one, you have just two years from the date of their death to file a lawsuit.
If you were involved in an accident with an uninsured or underinsured motorist, the timeframe provided by the statute of limitations may be extended to five years. This is because an uninsured motorist claim in Florida, which is a no-fault auto insurance state, is subject to your own insurance provider’s contract.
Since Florida has a five-year statute of limitations for contract lawsuits, you will have five years from the date of your accident to sue your provider for compensation. Meanwhile, the four-year statute of limitations still applies if you choose to file a lawsuit directly against the uninsured motorist.
Slip and fall accident claims
If you were injured in a slip and fall accident on someone else’s property because the property owner failed to keep their premises safe, you have four years from the date of your accident to file a lawsuit. If your loved one died as a result of a slip and fall accident, the statute of limitations period is two years from the date of their death.
Dog bite injury claims
If you were bitten or otherwise injured by a dog because of the dog owner’s negligence, you have four years from the date of the attack to file a dog bite injury lawsuit. If a loved one died as a result of a dog bite incident, you have two years from the date of their passing to file a wrongful death claim on their behalf.
Medical malpractice claims
Florida’s statute of limitations for medical malpractice claims is complex and may be subject to several possible exceptions. Generally speaking, the statute of limitations for medical malpractice lawsuits is two years. This two-year period begins on the date when you knew or should have known that your injury was caused by medical malpractice.
Another Florida law, known as the statute of repose, may also affect medical malpractice lawsuits. The statute of repose is slightly different from the statute of limitations because it imposes deadlines based on the overall passage of time rather than the amount of time that passes once an injured victim is aware that they may have a medical malpractice claim.
The statute of repose in Florida imposes a hard time limit of four years from the date that the alleged medical malpractice occurs, no matter when you knew or should have known about the malpractice. Keep in mind that if you do know or should know through reasonable diligence that you were injured as a result of medical malpractice, the two-year statute of limitations still applies even if the four-year period of repose has not yet expired.
There are certain exceptions to the time limit imposed by Florida’s statute of repose. The first involves medical malpractice cases in which healthcare providers engage in fraud, misrepresentation, or concealment to hide the evidence of their malpractice. These circumstances are rare, but when they occur, the statute of repose may be extended to a total of seven years.
Another exception is for medical malpractice claims involving children under the age of eight. Under Florida law, the usual statute of repose cannot be applied to bar legal action on behalf of a child injured by medical malpractice before the child’s eighth birthday. However, the two-year statute of limitations still applies, so a child’s parent or guardian has just two years after the date they know or should know of the medical malpractice to file a lawsuit.
Nursing home abuse claims
If you wish to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit on behalf of your loved one, it will generally be subject to the same limitations as any other medical malpractice claim. This means that you have two years to file a nursing home abuse lawsuit and also two years to file a lawsuit involving the wrongful death that results from nursing home abuse. The statute of repose, or the hard time limit for filing a lawsuit, is four years from the date of the incident.
However, the statute of repose period for nursing home abuse cases that involve fraud, misrepresentation, or concealment of malpractice is slightly shorter than the usual seven years for most medical malpractice claims. The nursing home abuse statute of repose imposes a six-year limit, and the exceptions for cases involving minor children do not apply.
Defective product injury claims
When a person is seriously or fatally injured because of a defective or malfunctioning product, a product liability lawsuit can hold negligent manufacturers or sellers accountable. In most cases, you have four years to bring a product liability lawsuit in Florida, unless the defective product caused fatal injuries, in which case you have two years.
However, it’s important to understand another statute of repose that may affect product liability lawsuits. In Florida, products have an “expected useful life” of 10 years, and the statute of repose imposes a time limit of 12 years after the product was first purchased. This means that if you were injured by a defective product that was purchased more than 12 years ago, you will not be able to file a defective product lawsuit.
Construction accident claims
If a worker is injured in a construction accident, they have four years from the date of their injury to file a construction accident lawsuit. If the worker was killed as a result of the construction accident, their family has two years to file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf.
Wrongful death claims
If someone else’s negligence caused the wrongful death of your loved one, you have the option to file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf. Wrongful death claims are considered a special type of personal injury claim in which the person who was injured is no longer available to bring legal action themselves. Surviving loved ones have two years from the date of death to file wrongful death lawsuits.
Claims against government entities
If you were injured as the result of negligence on behalf of the government in the state of Florida, the typical statute of limitations does not apply. Instead, you are required to notify the state agency involved in your claim and Florida’s Department of Financial Services of your intention to file a claim within three years of the date of the incident.
If your initial claim is denied, you must still file a personal injury lawsuit within three years of the date of the injury. If the incident caused the wrongful death of your loved one, you must file your wrongful death lawsuit within two years.
Should I File a Claim Early Even If I Have Plenty of Time Left on the Statute of Limitations?
Yes. Even if you have several years before the statute of limitations that applies to your claim expires, it’s always a good idea to take action as soon as possible. This is because there are a number of factors involved in the preparation of a successful lawsuit, many of which may take longer than you think.
In addition to the complexity of filing a lawsuit, there are certain advantages to taking prompt legal action. For one, evidence that could be critical to your case may be destroyed or misplaced if you wait too long. For another, it can be more difficult to locate witnesses if several years have passed, and their ability to recall the incident may diminish over time.
Contact Brooks Law Group Today
No matter what type of accident led to your injury, it’s important to act quickly. The statute of limitations in Florida is nuanced and contains several exceptions that can be difficult to interpret. You don’t want your Tampa personal injury lawsuit to be disqualified because of simple administrative errors, so call or contact the attorneys of Brooks Law Group for guidance as soon as possible for a free consultation.