August 28, 2020

What is the statute of limitations in Florida for personal injury claims?

Categories: Personal Injury, Uncategorized

What does a statute of limitations mean?

A statute of limitations is basically the amount of time you have to file a case before you can no longer take legal action. Some types of cases do not have a statute of limitations, but most cases do. It’s important to know what the statute of limitations is for each potential case you are considering. And moreover, it’s important to consult with legal counsel as soon as you can, regardless of however long you might have to file a case.

Why does Florida have a statute of limitations?

Every state has statutes of limitations, and those statutes will vary by the type of case. The main reason statutes of limitations exist is so that cases can be built on reliable evidence for both sides. As time goes by, both the physical evidence and eyewitness memory relevant to the lawsuit can deteriorate, making it harder for a judge or jury to issue a verdict.

What is the statute of limitations in Florida for personal injury claims?

That will vary based on the type of case. Let’s look at each area of law right now to see the applicable statute of limitations.

Car Accident

You have four years to sue a negligent driver in Florida if you are injured in a car accident, and five years to sue your uninsured motorist. This does include Uber and Lyft drivers. You do not want to wait to take action, especially because insurance companies will do everything they can to deflect responsibility and draw out your claim—so contact a Tampa car accident attorney to discuss if taking your case to court is the best way to protect your interests.

Truck Accident

A negligent truck driver falls into the same category as a car accident. Shockingly, as recently as 2017, there were 30,000 collisions with heavy or medium trucks on Florida roadways. A crash with a truck can be deadly. If someone dies in the crash, you will need to file a wrongful death lawsuit instead, which has a 2 year statute of limitations. Speaking with a Tampa truck accident lawyer will help you determine if you should file an insurance claim, sue the trucking company, or both.

Motorcycle Accident

It’s a well known fact that motorcycles present more risks for injury and death than cars, and especially in Florida, where you are not required to wear a helmet. Motorcycle accidents are the same as car accidents in terms of a four year statute of limitations (and five for uninsured motorists). Again, keep in mind that a wrongful death claim has a two year statute of limitations, and that PIP claims may need to be filed even sooner to receive full compensation. Talk to a Tampa motorcycle accident attorney as soon as you can to determine the best course of action.

Bike Accident

Like cars, trucks, and motorcycles, the statute of limitations for a bike accident is four years (and five years to sue an uninsured motorist). The most common causes of bike accidents are not bad roads or reckless bicycling. Drivers turning into cyclists, changing lanes into a cyclist, pulling into an intersection and hitting a cyclist, and opening a door at a poorly timed moment are the leading causes of cycler death. Discuss your case with a Tampa bike accident lawyer to determine your options, including whether our own motor vehicle insurance policy will cover you in this instance.

Pedestrian Accident

Pedestrians injured in an accident have four years to bring a case against a negligent driver who injured them, but keep in mind that wrongful death claims have a two year statute of limitations. Most pedestrian deaths actually occur in urban settings and at night, so a Tampa pedestrian accident attorney can review the case with you and help assess if another party might have played a role in the accident—such as a negligent county or city that should have better maintained crosswalks, signage, and lighting.

Premises Liability – Slip and Fall Accidents

Slip and fall accidents can occur when an individual slips and gets injured on a hard surface that should have been marked as such—for example, after it’s been cleaned. In colder climates, it’s common for slip and fall accidents to happen on icy patches, but that is not so common in Florida (though it can happen). The statute of limitations for a slip and fall accident is four years, but don’t wait and speak to a Tampa attorney who specializes in premises liability cases; a Tampa slip and fall accident lawyer will review the case with you and determine the best course of action.

Dog Bite Injury

A bite from an animal is no laughing matter. Attacks from certain animals like pit bulls have resulted in death, and animal bite wounds can develop other complications. The statute of limitations for dog bite injuries is four years. However, you should speak with a Tampa dog bite injury lawyer right away. Emerging from your case with a successful verdict against the owner of a dangerous animal can also protect others in your neighborhood from the same fate.

Defective Products

Retailers have an obligation to their customers to provide safe products. Unfortunately, with the proliferation of unchecked eCommerce, there are more safety issues than ever. If you’ve fallen victim to injury because of a defective product, you will have four years to file a lawsuit. Speak with a Tampa defective products attorney as soon as you can to determine the best way to build your case.

Boating Accidents

Florida is home to a number of lakes, rivers, and coastal waterways. If your boating accident occurred in Florida waters, your statute of limitations is four years. If it occurs in federal waters, it will fall under Federal Maritime Law or Admiralty Law, and the statute drops down to three years. Speak to a Tampa boating accident lawyer to discuss your case and determine the best course of action.

Cruise Ship Accidents

Remember to read the fine print on the back of your ticket. In many cases, the statute of limitations can be as little as one year or six months. Despite the fact that today’s cruise ships seem like floating palaces, they are still ships—and sailing on a ship carries plenty of dangers, among them food poisoning, slips and falls, and mechanical accidents. The thought of bringing a lawsuit against a large cruising corporation can seem intimidating, so speak to a Tampa cruise ship accident attorney and discuss the best way to approach your case.

Railroad Accidents

Railroad accidents are truly frightening; a moving train may need as much as a mile in order to slow down. Oftentimes, a collision with a train or a stalled car at a railroad crossing hit by an oncoming train can mean certain death—the statute of limitations of which (in Florida) is two years. If death is not involved, the statutes of limitations can vary depending on who operates the train, a government employee or a private company. It’s important to speak to a Tampa railroad accident attorney as soon as you can to iron out the details and move forward.

Aviation Accidents

Airplanes are statistically more safe to travel in than cars, but airplane accidents do happen, and they can be catastrophic. Remember that wrongful death lawsuits have a two year statute of limitations, which incidentally is the same for international air travel. Sometimes a lawsuit can be brought against the federal government for negligence on the part of air traffic controllers, or for an an accident with an EMS helicopter or municipal airport. The statutes of limitations for each of these types of cases can be difficult to determine and may require analysis of the specific facts involved in your case. ecause of the complexity of aviation accidents and the many factors involved, it’s important to speak to a Tampa aviation accident lawyer to determine the best way forward.

For all of these various cases, individual facts or circumstances are important and can affect the application of the appropriate statute of limitations – which makes it all the more critical that you consult with an attorney about your possible case sooner rather than later. Our attorneys at Wagner, McLaughlin & Whittemore would be honored to discuss your options with you. Call us today for a free consultation.

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