Florida Statute of Limitations, Civil Actions

The Florida Statute of Limitations for civil actions sets a time limit after an injury or civil wrong occurs, during which an injured party can file a lawsuit. After that period of time expires, the injured party is no longer permitted to file a claim in a Florida state court to litigate that matter. The statute ensures that lawsuits that have merit and worthy of being heard are filed within a reasonable time or not at all.

How Does the Statute of Limitations Operate?

The period of time to file a claim will vary depending upon the type of incident that occurred. A claim against a doctor for medical malpractice may be for a different length of time than against an accountant for negligence or fraud. The Florida statute of limitations can generally be found within the Florida Statutes, Section 95 and covers the following rules and exceptions in greater detail.

When does the Florida Statute of Limitations Begin?

Other than for specific exceptions, the Florida statute of limitations generally begins to run at the time when a “cause of action arises” – in other words, at the time when an injury occurs that would qualify for a lawsuit to be filed in a Florida state court.

What is the Discovery Rule?

There are times when a person is unable to discover that they have been injured. For example, fraud that is concealed by an accountant and is not easily discoverable or a medical condition resulting from a doctor’s misdiagnosis that can only be detected after the patient’s health deteriorates. It wouldn’t be fair or reasonable to require the injured party to file a lawsuit when they could not have detected the injury. As a result, in some instances the Florida statute of limitations begins to run from the time the injured party discovers or should have discovered that they have been injured.

Delaying or Tolling the Florida Statute of Limitations

In certain circumstances, fairness would require that the statute of limitations be delayed for a period of time. A party may not have the ability to bring a case even though they are aware of an injury or damages. Delaying or “tolling” the statute of limitations typically occurs when the plaintiff is “disabled” – such as a minor child or a person who is mentally incompetent or bankrupt. Once the disability ends, the statute of limitations begins to run.

Calculating the length of time that a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit is complicated and involves many factors and exceptions. Parties that have suffered significant injuries or damages may wish to consult with a Florida attorney to ensure that all claims and notices are filed within the time limits set forth by law.

Florida Statute of Limitations for Civil Actions

Personal Injury and Negligence

4 years, use the Discovery Rule. See §95.11(3)(o)

Wrongful Death

4 years with the Discovery Rule.

Medical Malpractice

2 years, use the Discovery Rule up to a maximum of 4 years from the date of the malpractice. See §95.11(4). Infants are required to bring lawsuits within the general rule or up to age 8, whichever is greater. The statute of limitations begins to run at the time that the discovery of the injury suggests that medical malpractice was the likely cause. See §95.11(4)

Legal and Professional Malpractice

2 years with the Discovery Rule. See §95.11(4)

Products Liability

4 years with the Discovery Rule, which presents a possibility of a ceiling of 12 years with certain exceptions.

Intentional Torts

4 years, generally.

Comparative Negligence

Yes although there are many rules that apply and dictate the effect of percentage of fault on ultimate liability and awards for damages.

Contracts

Written contracts 5 years. Oral contracts 4 years. Actions for specific performance requirement commencement of a lawsuit within 1 year.

Fraud

4 years.

Injury to Personal Property and Trespass

4 years.  See §95.11(3)(g) and §95.11(3)(h)

Libel / Slander / Defamation

2 years from the date of publication (or the date when spoken). See §95.11(4)(g)

Debt Collection Accounts

2 years – unpaid wages.

Collection of Rent

 

Judgment Enforcement

20 years for domestic judgments (in the state of Florida) and 10 years for foreign judgments (outside the state of Florida). See §95.11(1) and §95.11(2)

Disabilities

Maximum of 7 years for incapacity, generally 4 years for infants. Note exceptions concerning medical malpractice cases.

Charitable Immunity

None.

Liability of State and Municipalities

Liability is waived on if the municipal employee is acting within the scope of employment and not with any bad faith intent. Notice to the municipality and department of insurance is required within 3 years of the date the injury occurred.

No-Fault Insurance

Yes – no-fault insurance applies.

Consumer Fraud Complaints

Florida Office of the Attorney General, Consumer Protection

Telephone: (850)414-3300
Fraud: (866)966-7226

Please Take Note: The statute of limitations laws presented are strictly provided to you “as-is”. While we believe that the legal information is accurate as of the date created, we cannot and do not provide any guarantee, analysis or conclusions. The law may have changed since this article was published. The only way to ensure that the statute of limitations law you are reading is up to date and applies to your specific issue, is to have a legal consultation with an attorney licensed to practice law in the state of Florida.

Michael M Wechsler, Esq.

Michael M. Wechsler is an experienced attorney, founder of TheLaw.com and of-counsel to Kaplan, Williams & Graffeo, LLC. He was also an SVP and chief Internet strategist at Zedge.net and legal consultant at Kroll Ontrack, a leading service e-discovery and computer forensics service provider.

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