What is the Statute of Limitations in Personal Injury Cases?

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statute of limitations

There is a legal phrase that you most likely have heard – “the statute of limitations.” Yet, you also most likely don’t exactly know what it is referring to. Is it a law? What exactly is the statute limiting? Granted, it sounds a bit confusing. But in reality, it is really quite simple when defined.  

Stripped to its essence, a statute of limitations is a law, or “statute” that “limits” how long someone has to bring a lawsuit for something. You may have heard the notion that there is no statute of limitations on murder. That is correct. In homicide cases, a person can be prosecuted for the crime decades after the crime occurred. However, with all other crimes or civil matters – like a personal injury lawsuit – you only have a certain amount of time during which you can bring legal action to the court. 

With the official definition of the “statute of limitations” under your belt, this article is going to dive into the reasons we have a statute of limitations in the law, and the various statutes of limitation for all different types of personal injury cases.

If, after reading this blog, you have additional questions about your own situation, then we welcome you to contact the personal injury law firm in Stuart, FL – Crary Buchanan. At Crary Buchanan, we are proud of our standard of excellence, which has allowed us to thrive as one of the oldest law firms on Florida’s Treasure Coast.  

Our personal injury law firm in Stuart is passionate about giving you the highest quality representation. Call us today at 772-287-2600, or schedule a free estate planning to consult online with our online contact form

Why Even Have a Statute of Limitations?

There are actually a few reasons why having a statute of limitations makes good public policy sense.

First, a statute of limitations provides an incentive for people to avoid sitting on their rights. In other words, if you were injured in an accident, and you can get compensation from the party responsible for your injuries, then you should do so promptly, within a reasonable amount of time, or you will lose the opportunity. That is correct, if you do not bring a lawsuit to obtain compensation for your injuries within the time given in the statute of limitations, then your legal claim is forever barred.

Second, a statute of limitations avoids putting a cloud over a potential defendant forever. It is generally unfair to let someone worry and stress about the possibility of litigation for the rest of their lives. Truly, it is not a pleasant thought to be constantly concerned that someone might sue you for a car accident that happened 20 years ago.  Hence, the statute of limitations puts a maximum time on how long a cloud can hang over a potential defendant’s head.

Third, a statute of limitations ensures that important evidence does not get lost. We all know that, over time, things get lost or misplaced, and people’s memories fade. Indeed, it would be a challenging trial indeed if we were to ask witnesses to an accident to testify about what they saw 20 years ago, or to try to unearth medical documents from 20 years ago. Accordingly, having a reasonable limitations time period will ensure that evidence is not lost over time.  

What Are the Statutes of Limitation in Florida?

Each state has its own set of statutes of limitations. Therefore, the time you have to bring a personal injury case for a dog bite in Nebraska may be different from the limitations period in Florida.  

Accordingly, here is a list of some common personal injury claims, and the general statute of limitations for those claims. If you have a personal injury claim, then you should make sure to confer with a personal injury law firm in Stuart, FL to confirm the statute of limitations applicable to your own claim.  

1. Automobile Accidents – generally, if one driver was negligent and responsible for injuring someone, the injured party has 4 years to file a lawsuit for personal injuries and for property damage.

2. Motorcycle Accidents – generally, there is a 4-year limitations period, which goes down to 2 years for a wrongful death claim related to a motorcycle accident.

3. Bike and Pedestrian Accidents – generally, an injured cyclist or pedestrian has the same limitation period as in motorcycle accidents.

4. Slip and Fall Accidents – generally, a 4-year statute of limitations, which goes to 2 years for a wrongful death claim.

5. Wrongful Death – generally, a party has 2 years from the date of death to bring a wrongful death action.

6. Medical Malpractice – generally, such claims have a 2-year statute of limitations from the date of discovery of an injury, but 4 years is the maximum limitation period for any medical malpractice claim.

Again, be sure to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney to confirm the statute of limitations applicable to your case.  

Let the Personal Injury Law Firm in Stuart, Crary Buchanan, Help with Your Personal Injury Case

Vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of personal injury and wrongful death in the nation. Many factors can contribute to a traffic accident, but as noted the primary reason is negligence. Drivers are negligent in a variety of ways. A driver who falls asleep may be considered negligent. When a careless driver causes an accident, you can pursue a personal injury claim or lawsuit.

It doesn’t matter what type of injury you sustained. You have the right to seek compensation if another driver caused you injury – even if you were partially responsible for the accident. Automobile and truck accident injuries can lead to a variety of expenses, and a personal injury claim can compensate you for these costs. Yet, you need the right legal advocate on your side to get full and fair compensation for your damages. If you or someone you love suffered and injury, speak with a Stuart, Martin County personal injury attorney from Crary Buchanan. We want to help you recover the money you need.

At Crary Buchanan, we are committed to providing clients with exceptional service in every aspect of personal injury law. You can depend upon our 85 years of experience in the Florida legal industry.  

Our clients are more than case numbers; they are people. We recognize that you are an individual with unique needs and expectations. Our team is here to meet your need and exceed your expectations. When you work with us, you can have confidence that a caring legal advocate is on your side.

There is no need to be intimidated by making a personal injury claim after an auto or truck accident when you have the support of the talented team at Crary Buchanan. If you have more questions or want a dedicated personal injury attorney to help you, call 772-287-2600 or schedule a free consult online with our online contact form. You can always depend on Crary Buchanan for community, experience, and trust.  Call today.