If you’ve ever been injured due to someone else’s negligence, you want to know the best way to proceed. Things that may come to mind are possible medical expenses, the time you may have to take off work to deal with it, trying to come up with proof of what happened in case you have to go to court, to name a few. And, within this long list of worries, you also have to be cognizant of the fact that you only have a specific amount of time to file a lawsuit. If you wait too long, the party who wronged you could claim that the case is barred by the statute of limitations and request that it be dismissed. What, exactly, is the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim? And which types of cases constitute personal injury in the first place?
What are personal injury claims?
A personal injury (PI) is any claim when a person is injured due to someone else’s negligence. While people often think of motor vehicle accidents when thinking about PI cases, they could include any of the following:
- Car accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Premise liabilities (falling in someone else’s property)
- Medical malpractice
- Product liability (purchasing a defective product)
- Dog bites
- Wrongful death
To establish that there was negligence in any case, you have to prove four things:
The defendant in a negligence case must have owed a duty of care. For example, when driving on any Florida roads, every single driver owes a duty of care to everyone else who’s driving. Medical professionals owe a duty of care to patients. Product manufacturers owe it to consumers. Property owners who open their premises to the public owe a duty of care to their visitors.
The second element is where you prove there was a breach of the established duty of care. For example, speeding, weaving in and out of traffic, performing an operation on a patient and leaving a surgical instrument inside, putting a motor vehicle into the stream of commerce without adequately testing its safety features, or opening a store to the public, knowing that the ceiling tiles are not up to code and one of them could slide down at any given moment.
Here’s where it’s really important to pay attention. Your injuries must be the result of the breach of the duty of care. For example, if you’re driving while drinking hot coffee, spill the hot coffee on you, then swerve as a reaction to the pain and crash into a car on the next lane, your injuries are not the result of the other driver’s negligence. They, in turn, could sue you for your own breach of duty of care.
You must also prove that you suffered damages. For example, if you slip and fall and all is well, there are no damages. However, if you sleep and fall and suffer herniated disks, a bone fracture, or cut yourself, your damages are those injuries. If you have to take time off work to get medical attention, any lost wages are also part of your damages. If you get into a car accident, in addition to injuries and lost wages, damages may include vehicle repair, car rental, and future medical expenses, to name a few.
What’s the statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim in Florida?
Florida Statute 95.11 establishes the statute of limitations for civil actions. For any negligence claim, the timeframe to file your case is within four years. The clock starts ticking on the day of the accident. While this seems like a long time, keep in mind that the longer you wait, the more difficult it becomes to gather witnesses, surveillance video, and/or find the law enforcement officer who arrived at the scene to get them to testify. In addition, the more time that goes by, the easier it would be for the opposing party to blame any of your injuries on a subsequent event — such as work duties, playing sports, another accident, etc.
Call Clark Law If You Have a Personal Injury Claim in Tampa Bay
If you or someone you love has suffered a personal injury, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. At Clark Law, we have experienced attorneys who regularly represent clients involved in motor vehicle accidents, and we can help you determine the best next step.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.