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A Basic Guide to the Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Cases

A recent survey found that 19% of American households have accrued medical debt that they can’t currently afford to pay off. Unfortunately, outstanding medical bills and debt are a common American problem. What if your medical bills are the result of someone else’s negligence? If you believe that your medical issues were caused by another party, you may be entitled to file a personal injury claim. However, you have to do so before the clock runs out. This is because every state has a statute of limitations on personal injury claims. What is the statute of limitations on personal injury claims in the state of Florida? How do you know if the clock has run out on your case? Read on to find out.

What Is the Statute of Limitations?

If you’re unfamiliar with the term, “statute of limitations” refers to the amount of time a plaintiff has to open a specific case or claim. Another way to look at it is the amount of time a plaintiff has until the clock runs out and their case or claim is no longer valid in court.

Why does the statute of limitations exist?

First and foremost, the statute of limitations protects the salience or validity of a case. It is set based on the time period in which evidence is still considered reliable.

It is also designed to protect the defendant. Ultimately, the defendant is entitled to a fair trial and the ability to defend themselves against accusations that may be false. Raising accusations about, for example, a car accident that occurred thirty years ago would infringe upon this right.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims?

Personal injury claims are filed when the plaintiff has suffered a substantial injury as a result of the defendant’s negligent behavior. Examples include car accidents caused by distracted drivers, preventable accidents that occur on private property, and so forth.

In the state of Florida, the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim is four years. That means that you have four years from the point at which the injury was sustained to file your claim. Typically, that means that you have four years from the day that the accident occurred.

The Discovery Rule

There is an exception for some cases that will lengthen the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim. This exception relates to the discovery rule.

The discovery rule posits that the clock starts at the time when the injury was discovered. In other words, you may be the victim of an accident but only discover your resulting injury weeks or months later. (It is worth noting that in some cases, the discovery rule starts the clock at the point when you should have been aware of the injury.)

Exceptions for Minors

Minors will have more time to file a personal injury claim after the date of the accident. The statute of limitations for minors filing personal injury claims is seven years. This is because the statute of limitations will “toll” (or pause) to reflect their legal inability to file a claim.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice?

Medical malpractice is a complicated subject. Broadly, it refers to new or worsening injuries or illnesses caused by medical professionals who did not provide a reasonable standard of care.

Typically, the victims of medical malpractice have two years to file a claim against the defendant. To clarify, that is two years from the point at which the medical malpractice occurred.

Does the Discovery Rule Apply Here?

The discovery rule does apply to medical malpractice cases, but the limitations are more strict. In theory, the victim may have two years from the point of discovery to file a medical malpractice claim. However, Florida also imposes the statute of repose on medical malpractice claims.

The statute of repose means that all medical malpractice claims are invalid when four years have passed since the medical malpractice occurs. In other words, the discovery rule could change when the clock starts. However, regardless of when you discover the injury, the clock runs out four years after the incident occurred.

Are There Exceptions for Minors?

The statute of limitations for minors filing a medical malpractice claim is four years or before the child’s eighth birthday. Whichever one is longer is the one that will apply.

In other words, if a three-year-old child is the victim of medical malpractice, you have until the day before they turn eight to file the claim. If a five-year-old child is the victim of medical malpractice, you have four years to file the claim.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Product Liability?

Product liability is another case that falls under the personal injury umbrella but has its own statute of liability. Like standard personal injury claims, you have four years after the date of the injury to file a product liability claim.

However, this does not apply if a product was purchased over 12 years ago. According to Florida state law, all products have a reasonable useful life of 10 years.

In other words, if you suffered an injury from a malfunctioning toaster you purchased 15 years ago, you do not have grounds to file a claim.

Ready to File a Personal Injury Claim? We Can Help

There are far more laws that apply to personal injury claims than just the statute of limitations. If you are considering filing a personal injury claim for any reason, we always recommend that you work with a personal injury attorney.

To ease your burden, we always start with a free case review. To get started, contact us today and let us know about the circumstances of your injury. We will provide the best legal guidance and representation in Tampa, Florida.

CONTACT A TAMPA AUTO ACCIDENT ATTORNEY

In short, after a car accident, you may not know your rights. Above all, don’t struggle through the process alone. Actually, our personal injury team is here to help you with any legal needs you might have regarding your accident.

Lastly, let RHINO Lawyers answer your questions and review the facts of your case with a Free Consultation. So, get started by completing the “Free Instant Case Evaluation” or by calling us any time, day or night, at 844.329.3491.

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