A statute of limitations is a time period in which you can file a case in a court of law. These time limitations are put in place in Florida statute section 775.15 to encourage plaintiffs to file lawsuits on time. They also free those involved in disputes from retaining evidence after a reasonable time period.
When planning to file a lawsuit, it is imperative to understand the statutes of limitations Florida has so that you act within the applicable time period. An attorney can help you understand the rules that apply to your specific scenario.
What Are Florida’s Statutes Of Limitations?
Florida’s statutes of limitations vary depending on the nature of the case. For example, civil suits have different time frames than criminal cases, with additional variations within those categories.
For criminal charges, the statute of limitations is usually longer for more serious cases. This ensures more serious crimes can be prosecuted effectively.
For civil suits, the time frame varies more ambiguously, but generally, more severe scenarios like wrongful death have a shorter statute of limitations than cases like debt. This ensures that more serious matters are acted upon quickly and helps prevent future wrongdoing.
Misdemeanor Statute of Limitations
Misdemeanor statutes of limitations in Florida are simple: First-degree misdemeanors have a statute of limitations of two years. Second-degree misdemeanors have a statute of limitations of one year.
Some exceptions or special cases apply, but for the most part, criminal misdemeanors will fall into one of these obvious categories. As you can see, more time is given to prosecute more serious violations.
Felony statute of limitations
The statutes of limitations for felony crimes in Florida are as follows: First-degree felonies have a four-year statute of limitations. Second and third-degree felony violations have a statute of limitations of three years. More severe felonies have no statute of limitations, including capital crimes, any degree felony punishable by a life sentence, or felonies resulting in death.
Just as with misdemeanors, there may be some exceptions to these general guidelines. Once again, more time is given for more serious crimes, with some cases having no applicable statute of limitations.
When Does The Statute Of Limitations Begin?
The statute of limitations generally begins to “accrue” after the last portion of the event in question concludes or when the victim first discovers the effects.
For example, in the case of a homeowner against a contractor, the statute of limitations period would be counted from the time the contractor completed the work in question, the day the contract concluded, or when the homeowner had actual knowledge of the breach of contract if it was concealed or otherwise unknowable to the homeowner, whichever is most recent.
This provides adequate time for plaintiffs to file a case after the conclusion of an event or once they become aware of a situation.
Florida Statute of Limitations for Different Personal Injury Cases
Most personal injury lawsuits are civil cases that fall under intentional torts, or negligence resulting in damages, which both have a statute of limitations of four years. However, there are a few notable exceptions of personal injury cases that fall into other categories with statutes of limitations of only two years.
Car Accident Statute of Limitations
In general, motor vehicle accidents are civil suits that fall under the negligence causing personal injury or property damage category, which has a statute of limitations of four years. Of course, this implies the car crash was an accident and didn’t result in wrongful death. Intentional, reckless use of a car may be considered a criminal case.
If you have any uncertainty, contact a car accident lawyer.
Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
Medical malpractice is one of the exceptions for personal injury lawsuits with a statute of limitation of only two years. Presumably, these are more serious matters that could pose a threat to the public and need to be addressed promptly. On the other hand, medical professionals accept a certain amount of liability in their daily line of work and therefore are only limited to situations from the past two years.
It is important to note that the time period can be extended if an injury or breach of duty is not discovered right away. Generally, the statute of limitations is two years from the discovery, not the event that caused the injury.
Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
Wrongful death is another serious case with a shortened statute of limitations of only two years. Again, a wrongful death scenario is a serious matter that should be addressed promptly to ensure the behavior of the at-fault party is corrected.
Dog Bite Statute of Limitations
Dog bite cases usually fall under the negligence category and have a statute of limitations of four years. Of course, this is overridden in cases where a dog bite leads to wrongful death or if a dog bite was intentionally caused rather than a result of negligence.
Product Liability Statute of Limitations
Products that break a written contract have a statute of limitations of five years. Product liability cases that fall under the personal injury statute have a legal time limit of four years. Lastly, cases, where a product caused wrongful death, have a statute of limitations of two years.
Premises Liability Statute of Limitations
Premises liability (personal injury due to the condition of someone’s private property) is generally caused by negligence and therefore has a statute of limitations of four years. If the event leads to a wrongful death claim, the limit is two years.
Motorcycle Accident Statute of Limitations
Like car accidents, motorcycle accidents are generally the result of negligence and therefore have a statute of limitations period of four years. If the event leads to a wrongful death claim, the legal time limit is two years.
Slip and Fall Accident Statute of Limitations
Slip and fall accidents are generally considered cases of negligence, like most premises liability situations, and therefore the applicable period is four years. If the event leads to a wrongful death claim, the limit is two years.
Assault and Battery Statute of Limitations
Since assault and battery scenarios can be civil or criminal cases, the statute of limitations will vary. For example, aggravated battery is a second-degree felony with a statute of limitations of three years. However, the severity of the case can change the degree of the charge, with some scenarios, like sexual battery, having no statute of limitations.
Assault or battery can also be handled in a civil case as an intentional tort with a statute of limitations of four years.
Criminal Statute of Limitations in Florida
The statutes of limitations for criminal charges in Florida can be broken down as follows:
- Second-degree misdemeanors = 1 year
- First-degree misdemeanors = 2 years
- Third-degree felony violations = 3 years
- Second-degree felony violations = 3 years
- First-degree felony violations = 3 years
- Felonies resulting in death = None
- Life-sentence felonies = None
- Capital crimes = None
There are various exceptions and special case scenarios, but these limits cover the majority of criminal charges. Common exceptions include an extension of time when actual knowledge of an event (such as DNA evidence) becomes available.
Statute of Limitations for Civil Cases in Florida
The statutes of limitations for civil cases are as varied as the scenarios they cover. In most cases, they have a less than five-year statute, though there are more lengthy statutes. Here is a general breakdown of the categories of civil cases and the applicable statutes of limitations in Florida:
- Unpaid alimony = None
- Construction bonds = 1 year
- Performance contracts = 1 year
- Unpaid wages = 2 years
- Libel or slander = 2 years
- Attorney malpractice = 2 years
- Medical malpractice = 2 years
- Wrongful death = 2 years
- Oral contracts = 4 years
- Real property claims = 4 years
- Negligence = 4 years
- Trespassing = 4 years
- Fraud = 4 years
- Intentional torts = 4 years
- Written contracts = 5 years
- Mortgage foreclosure = 5 years
- Unpaid property taxes = 20 years
- Recovery of a judgment = 20 years
Again, there can be exceptions and special circumstances, but these general guidelines can help you estimate the statute of limitations for many civil cases.
How Can Our Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Help You?
Personal injuries can fall under many different categories, which can make identifying which statute of limitations applies to your situation tricky. If you are unsure how long you have to file your case or want help speeding up the process to ensure you meet the deadline, contact the personal injury attorneys at Denmon Pearlman for assistance.
Our experienced personal injury attorneys can help you file your case, collect evidence, and help you with every step of the legal process. We will fight to not only win your case but maximize your settlement.
If you are wondering when to hire a personal injury lawyer or if you need one at all, we offer free consultations to help you understand your rights and the value of your case. Don’t delay seeking legal counsel or wait until the personal injury statute of limitations is approaching to take legal action.