In any lawsuit, particularly for personal injury civil suits, there is what is called a statute of limitations. This is a legal limit to how long you can take to file a lawsuit. Each state has its own limits on how long you can take before you file a claim, depending on the type of claim, whether it is a contract claim, personal injury claim, or criminal claim. For those who may have a personal injury claim in Fort lauderdale, Florida, it is critical to make sure that any legal claim is filed within the statute of limitations. No matter how valid or deserving a claim may be, if it is filed after the statute of limitations has passed, it will be rejected by the court.
Statutes of limitations can begin running at three different points in time:
1. When the harm is done. That means that the time limit to bring a legal claim will start the day you actually are injured, not when you seek treatment or hire a lawyer or any other action.
2. When you should have reasonably realized the harm had occurred. This means that the clock will not start running on the statute of limitations until you should have noticed it according to a judge. This can often apply when you sustain damage to your property. For instance, if someone damages your fence, you may not have to immediately notice it, but a judge may find that you should have noticed it within a month, and so the judge would start counting down the time to file under the statute of limitations starting a month after the damage was done.
3. When you actually noticed the harm. As the most permissive standard, this allows a potential plaintiff the most amount of time to file a claim because the clock only starts when the plaintiff actually realized that he was injured in some way.
Florida Statute of Limitations
Under Florida law, there are different statutes of limitations depending on the nature of the legal claim. For instance, a claim under negligence must be made within four years of the activity at issue. Alternatively, a medical malpractice claim must be brought within two years of when the injury was discovered or should have been discovered, but no more than four years beyond the time when the injury allegedly occurred. Also, a medical malpractice case for a minor can be brought at any time before the child turns eight years old.
What is Laches?
Laches is a traditional legal principle in which a defendant could claim that so much time had passed since the event at issue that it was unfair to allow the plaintiff to bring a lawsuit because the defendant had likely forgotten about the event or had no records of it and would therefore be prejudiced by the plaintiff’s delay. In Florida, this principle has been superseded by the formal statute of limitations that explicitly states when a plaintiff can and cannot bring a claim.
If someone has caused you or a loved one to be injured through their own negligence, you should consider speaking with an attorney to advise you. To help answer your questions on personal injury claims in the Fort Lauderdale area, contact the Law Office of Cohn & Smith.