What is the Florida Statute of Limitations?
In previous articles in the Lawyer 101 series, we explore Florida’s laws surrounding various accidents. The newest writeup in Lawyer 101 series details another important topic. This time, it’s the Florida Statute of Limitations. It’s important to place emphasis on Florida’s strict Statute of Limitations. The Law Resource Blog offers readers an in-depth look specifically at Florida’s Statute of Limitations as it pertains to Personal Injury law.
What is the purpose of the Florida Statute of Limitations?
Under the law, the Florida Statute of Limitations exists to make the law easier to interpret. Its purpose is for instances of pain and suffering that arise from accident or injurious behavior due to another’s negligence. However, Florida places limits upon what injuries are covered under this statute. For one, the injuries must be permanent. These injuries must come with very little chance of “full recovery.
The following legal determination holds weight:
“[…]Florida’s specific laws mandate that a driver who sustained permanent injuries [known under the law as “Injury to Person” §95.11(3)(o)] as the result of a car accident has four years (Florida Statutes Title 8, Ch. 95, Sec 95.11) from the date of the accident to bring litigation. After that, no matter how satisfactory the claim may be to a judge, it will no longer be allowed to be heard in court as the Statute of Limitations has run its course.”
When does the Florida Statute of Limitations start?
The timeframe for filing a lawsuit varies from state to state. In the state of Florida victims or surviving family members must begin litigation within (2) two years of the discovery of an act of medical negligence or malpractice. The timeframe must be “reasonable”. Therefore exceptions can be made on a case by cases basis to the Statute. If the cause of injury or death could not be “reasonably” discoverable for several months, the time lost should not break the case. However, knowing immediately of an injury but dragging one’s feet could get the case dismissed if two years passes without legal action.
Wrongful death cases
The Florida Statute of Limitations means any litigation due to the negligent actions of another need be brought within the state’s time limits. Furthermore, this means any action resulting in a victim sustaining serious bodily injury risks having their entire case thrown out by the judge if legal action is not brought within a “reasonable” timeframe.
What is “Discovery of Harm”?
The Florida Statute of Limitations dictates that a Personal Injury lawsuit be filed within a certain timeframe. After a victim sustains serious bodily injury at the hands of another, reasonable time is necessary to discover the cause. That’s why this time period usually doesn’t begin until the the victim becomes reasonably aware of the cause of their injuries.
The nature of an injury plays a large part in how much time a victim has to bring litigation. Sometimes there is a necessary delay in pursuing litigation. This could be due to a victim requiring surgery, being in a coma, or a long recovery. This is why beginning the Statute of Limitations ticking uses the Discovery of Harm rule. Sometimes there is no reasonable way to discovery the seriousness of the victim’s injuries within the necessary time period. During trial, a judge will take this into consideration. A victim may not be able to reasonably speak for themselves due to their medical circumstances. In these cases, the Statute of Limitations will not begin until recovery occurs on the medical side. In cases of wrongful death, as soon as the cause is known, a victim’s family must act quickly to bring litigation.
Discovery of Harm must be used responsibly by a lawyer who has taken previous cases to trial.
The Discovery of Harm rule application is successful in the instance of a medical malpractice claim due to the actions of a surgeon leaving a surgical tool inside the patient’s body. The error may be undiscoverable until months or years later. It’s only when the victim begins to experience unfamiliar pain, swelling or severe infection that the surgeon’s negligence is able to be discovered.
This precise inability to know the reason for the pain until receiving results of diagnostic imaging for another purpose isn’t unreasonable. The patient isn’t expected to know their pain is due to a surgical procedure that took place months or years ago.
When does the Florida Statute of Limitations begin in Medical Malpractice?
The Florida Statute of Limitations above would not begin until the day the surgeon’s mistake is found through diagnostic imaging. The day of the initial surgery does not factor in. This is because the Discovery period provides sufficient evidence of being unable to reasonably know the cause of their injury. The delay in discovering the surgeon is the cause of the victim’s pain and suffering is a reasonable one. Patients place trust in medical professionals to care for them. It’s unreasonable to assume the patient would place blame immediately upon the surgeon.
It’s all about credibility
There are instances when the Discovery of Harm rule does not apply. This has much to do with client credibility. Sometimes a client seeking compensation for pain and suffering confides in the lawyer that they were suffering for a very long time from severe abdominal discomfort. However, they admit they outright refuse to seek further medical treatment to find the cause, this is probably not a credible client. A lawyer with experience may not take this case. The Law Resource stresses the subject of credibility often. It’s important to never lie to a lawyer when seeking compensation after an accident or injury.
Without credibility, there is no case. If the lawyer deems the client to have told them one thing when another scenario is occurring entirely, legal action may not be possible. Claiming an injury but being found on FaceBook at the gym or dancing in the club can break a case. The best Personal Injury lawyers advise clients to stay off social media during litigation.
Sagi Shaked’s passion for justice is consistent, so are his results
Each Medical Malpractice case is different. Only a lawyer with Board Certification should advise clients on the Florida Statute of Limitations that pertains to their case. What should never change, however, is a lawyer’s passion for pursuing justice on behalf of clients. Whether a small or large amount of compensation is recoverable, a lawyer with Board Certification will always pursue maximum justice on behalf of each client.