Under House Bill 837, Florida’s legislature made some major changes to tort laws in the state. One change that has the potential to significantly impact personal injury victims is one that was made to the statute of limitations for filing these claims. Here, we want to review what these changes mean for individuals harmed due to the negligent actions of others in Florida.
What This Change Does?
In the state of Florida, there has always been a statute of limitations related to personal injury claims. This statute of limitations has defined the time frame within which injury victims have to file lawsuits against the alleged negligent party. Previously, before HB 837, personal injury victims had four years from the date their injury occurred to file a lawsuit against any other party believed to be responsible for the incident.
However, the tort reform bill recently passed in Florida changed this personal injury statute of limitations from four years to two years. Now, if a person believes they have been harmed due to the negligent actions of another individual, entity, or company, they will only have two years from the date the injury occurs to file their lawsuit in civil court. If they do not file a lawsuit within this specific time frame, they will almost certainly see the case dismissed and fail to recover any compensation at all.
Is This a Normal Timeframe?
For Floridians, this is going to be a major change concerning deadlines for personal injury claims. However, much of the rest of the country does have its personal injury statute of limitations set at two years. Some states only have a one-year statute of limitations, but most have settled on two years. This change brings Florida more in line with national averages, but that does not necessarily mean that the change was good for Florida.
Are There Exceptions?
First, it is important to point out that this shorter personal injury statute of limitations change will only apply to negligence claims that accrue after March 24, 2023, which is the effective date of the new law.
There are other exceptions to the personal injury statute of limitations in Florida. Under the following circumstances, the current two-year statute of limitations will likely be modified:
If a person has been deemed “incapacitated” under the law at the time the incident occurred
If the person who allegedly caused the injury left Florida at some point after the incident occurred but before a lawsuit could be filed
If the defendant worked to conceal themselves inside the state of Florida, change their identity or name, or in any other way tried to prevent the process of a lawsuit and summons from being served
If you or somebody you love has been injured due to the negligent actions of another individual or entity in the state of Florida, we encourage you to reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. These changes to Florida’s tort laws are significant, and you need to speak to an attorney about the next steps moving forward for your particular situation. Your St. Petersburg personal injury attorney may be able to help you recover compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering damages, property damage expenses, and more.