Each state has a certain time limit within an injured person must sue.
If the injured person misses the deadline, he or she loses his case. Then, he or she can’t get a settlement. In other words, the injured person won’t get compensation.
This is true even if the injured person gets surgery. Even if the judge wants to, he or she cannot extend the deadline to sue.
The reason that I’ve settled millions of dollars in personal injury claims is because I didn’t miss this deadline.
Here, I’ll focus on accidents that occur in Florida. In addition to accidents, I’ll also talk about incidents such as people injured by a crime.
But I won’t stop there:
I’m going to cover every time limit that I can think of that applies to an injured person’s case.
The time limit to sue is called a called the statute of limitations.
Clearly, the time limit to sue is very important. However, there is another aspect of personal injury claims that is often overlooked by victims.
What is this important aspect that you need to know?
For example, not taking an ambulance to the hospital drops the settlement value of case. Every day that the injured person waits to go to the doctor, the claim’s settlement value decreases.
In fact, insurance company settlement calculators place a lot of importance on when the injured person first gets treatment.
What is the statute of limitations for bodily injury in Florida?
The 4 year time limit is found in Florida Statute 95.11(3)(a). A statute is a law. The chapter is called “Limitations on Actions”. An action is a lawsuit.
In regards to how long you have to sue, Florida’s statute (law) says:
(3) WITHIN FOUR YEARS.-
(a) An action founded on negligence.
An action is a lawsuit. Negligence is the failure to use reasonable care.
The time limit to sue for negligence in Florida applies to suing for personal injury and property damage. Thus, most personal injury claims against another party fall under this fall under this 4 year deadline.
Personal injury claims include a claim for pain and suffering. They also include for medical bills and lost wages.
What Types of Claims Does the 4 Year Time Limit Apply to?
This includes personal injury claims against most:
- Car drivers (including, but not limited to, uninsured drivers)
- Truck drivers
- Uber or Lyft drivers
- Drivers using a rental car
To show you when this four-year time applies, I’m going to use an example. The facts are from one of my many motorcycle accident settlements.
Joe (not real name) was on a motorcycle in Hialeah, Miami-Dade County, Florida. He was heading straight.
A truck driver was heading in the opposite direction. As you can see from the diagram, the truck made a left hand turn. They crashed.
Now, if we change certain facts in that claim, the time to make a claim would be shorter.
For example, let’s say that Joe had Medpay coverage his motorcycle with State Farm. In that scenario, there may be a shorter time limit for Joe to give his medical bills to State Farm. He should look at his motorcycle insurance policy to see if it says the deadline. If there is no deadline, the time limit is 5 years.
If he misses that deadline, he loses his Medpay coverage.
5 Years to Make a Claim Against a Florida Uninsured Motorist Insurance Policy
A pedestrian was standing next to his rental car in Coconut Grove. Coconut Grove is in Miami-Dade County, Florida.
While he was next to his car, a driver of a car hit him.
Below is an x-ray which was taken at the hospital. It shows the pedestrian’s broken leg.
At the hospital, an external fixator was drilled into his leg, which you can see below.
If you have an external fixator put in your leg, this raises the full value of the case. Doctors removed the fixator within the year.
Months later, a doctor an intramedullary rod (IM) into his leg. They left the rod and screws in place.
Here is what the IM rod looked like:
The pedestrian’s case was worth more because the rod and screws were left inside his body. This image has appeal to a jury.
The driver of the car that hit him had a rental car insurance policy with $100,000 in bodily injury liability insurance. The rental car company had $100,000 of BIL insurance on the car.
Typically, the pedestrian would have four years to sue the driver.
However, the driver was working for the federal government. Specifically, he was working for US Customs when the accident happened. He was also driving a rental car.
Therefore, the pedestrian only had two years to sue the United States!
When the pedestrian rented the car from a rental car company in Florida, he purchased uninsured motorist (UM) insurance. You have five years to make a UM claim on a Florida auto insurance policy.
Thus, the pedestrian had 5 years to make an uninsured motorist insurance claim.
Uninsured Motorist Insurance Company Paid $100K to Settle
I made a underinsured motorist (UIM) insurance claim with my client’s UIM insurer, Ace American Insurance Company. Ace didn’t offer a dime. Therefore, I filed a civil remedy notice of insurance violation.
Ace hired an attorney. Then, Ace American Insurance Company paid the $100,000 limits without a lawsuit. (Ace has since acquired Chubb Insurance.)
If they failed to offer the $100,000 UIM insurance limits, I may have been able to sue them for bad faith.
Thus, if an insurance company has low bodily injury limits they get more nervous about getting hit with a big verdict.
It gets better. I sued the the United States of America in federal court in Miami. They paid $125,000 to settle.
Therefore, I settled the entire personal injury case for $325,000.
Watch this interesting video on this settlement:
Visitors to Florida May Have a Shorter Time to Notify an Uninsured Motorist Insurer
Let’s assume that you’re visiting Florida from another state. You get injured in a Florida car accident. If you have uninsured motorist (UM) insurance from your home state, there are 2 deadlines that you may have.
The first deadline is that you may have a very short time to notify your uninsured motorist insurer of your injury claim.
For example, one insurance company, Cotton States (now County Financial), had a Georgia auto policy that says that an insured must notify the UM insurer:
no later than 60 days, of how, when, and where the accident or loss happened.
The injured person who made a UM claim waited more than 60 days to notify the UM insurer. The UM insurer then denied UM coverage by arguing that the injured person failed to notify it of the crash in a timely manner.
The Georgia Court of Appeals agreed with the UM insurer. The injured person wasn’t entitled to any UM coverage. Manzi v. Cotton States Mutual Insurance Company, 243 Ga. App. 277, 531 S.E 2d 164 (2000).
Visitors to Florida May Have a Shorter Time to Sue for Uninsured Motorist Insurance Benefits
The second deadline is that the time to sue your uninsured can be much shorter. Time limits can be as short as 1 year. Many other states have a 2 year deadline.
For example, I represented a man (Ryan) who lived in Georgia. He was in Clearwater, Florida for business.
While in Florida, he was injured in a car accident. A driver made a left hand turn into Ryan’s rental car.
Here is the crash diagram:
You can see Ryan on the ground after the accident:
Allstate insured the car that hit Ryan. Wisely, Ryan hired a Florida car accident lawyer (me) shortly after the accident.
However, the Allstate policy only had $100,000 in bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance.
Ryan had four years to sue the driver who caused the accident. (Actually, the other driver died which further shortened the time to sue. But, I won’t get into that here.)
Therefore, we had to look for additional compensation.
The good news?
Ryan had uninsured motorist insurance with Travelers. Since he lived in Georgia, he had a Georgia UM policy. I quickly made an underinsured motorist insurance claim with Travelers. Let’s assume that Travelers’ policy would’ve said that he needed to notify them of a UM claim within 60 days of the accident.
Fortunately, I quickly made a UM claim. If I would’ve waited til day 61, we may have lost the UM claim.
Also, you may only have two years to sue for UM insurance on a Georgia policy. Some Florida appeals courts say you have 2 years, others say you have 4 years. It’s better to be safe than sorry. I assumed that it is 2 years.
I settled Ryan’s UM claim with Travelers for $200,000. Moreover, we settled a little over 1 year after the accident. Can you imagine if I would’ve waited 2 years to settle. We would’ve lost out on that extra $200,000. And $200,000 is a lot of money!
His entire personal injury settlement was for $300,000.
4 year Time Limit Applies To Every City in Florida
The general 4 year time limit to sue for negligence applies regardless of where you’re hurt in Florida. So regardless of whether you’re hurt in Miami, Homestead or West Palm Beach, the 4 year time limit to sue for negligence applies.
This entire article only applies to Florida cases.
Warning! Each state has different laws.
What is The Time Limit To Sue for a Car Accident?
- How long you have to sue a driver for your injury from a Florida car crash
- Time limit to make an uninsured motorist claim in Florida
What is The Time Limit To Sue for a Slip and Fall in Florida?
You have 4 years to sue a private business for its negligence if you’re hurt on its property. This assumes that you aren’t an employee of the property owner or occupier.
- Slip and fall at Publix Supermarket or Walmart
- Trip and fall at Winn Dixie, Target or Costco
- Other accidents on someone else’s property
Example – Injured at a Private Business – 4 years to Sue
Fred (not real name) is shopping at Sedano’s Supermarket in Miami. He allegedly slips and falls on a substance on the floor.
He claims that the fall aggravated an pre-existing injury to his achilles tendon. Sedano’s is a private business. Thus, Fred has 4 years to sue Sedano’s.
If You Sign a Waiver, The Time to Sue May Be Much Shorter
Some businesses have you sign a waiver before you’re allowed to enter. This waiver can shorten the time you have to sue.
As an example, let’s use Sky Zone, a family entertainment center with many connected trampolines. They require you to sign a waiver before entering. Skyzone’s Doral and Cutler Bay waiver look like this:
The waiver says, in part:
ANY DISPUTE, CLAIM…ARISING OUT OF OR RELATING TO MY OR THE CHILD’S ACCESS TO AND/OR USE OF THE SKY ZONE PREMISES AND/OR ITS EQUIPMENT…SHALL BE BROUGHT WITHIN ONE YEAR OF ITS ACCRUAL (i.e., the date of the alleged injury)
Thus, you are agreeing to only have one year to bring a claim. This is giving up a huge right.
Negligence Case Against against a City, County, Municipality or the State of Florida
If a Florida county, city, municipality or the State of Florida’s negligence caused your accident, you have 4 years to sue. However, you must give them notice within 3 years after the date of your accident.
To comply with this notice requirement, you must give the county certain pieces of information in writing. You then have to wait 6 months, unless they deny your claim, before you can file a lawsuit.
When the Four (4) Year Time Limit Doesn’t Apply To Injury Cases
Negligence Case Against Federal government – 2 Years
If you have a personal injury case against the federal government, you have two (2) years to sue. This time limit applies to car accidents, or injuries that happen on U.S. government property.
You must complete a Form 95 (Statement of Claim) and send it to the proper government parties. You then need to wait 6 months before filing a lawsuit. After that time period expires, you can sue the U.S.
If you have a medical malpractice claim, then Florida Statute 95.11(4)(b) states the applicable time frame to sue. The time limitation starts from the time the cause of action is discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence.
But there are exceptions as well as pre-suit notice requirements.
If you are making a professional negligence claim, then Florida Statute 95.11(4)(a) says that you have to years to sue. The time limitation starts from the time the negligence is discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence.
This means that you have 2 years to sue, an attorney or accountant, for professional negligence.
Time Limit to Make a Claim for an Accident While Working
Is There a Timeline for a Federal Employee to File a Claim for Injury?
The Federal Employees’ Compensation Act (FECA) provides that a claim for compensation must be filed within 3 years of the date of injury. This “workers compensation” law applies to federal employees. Therefore, it doesn’t apply to state employees.
Moreover, a FECA compensation claim is in addition to a personal injury claim against someone whose negligence caused the federal employees’ injury or death.
For a traumatic injury, the statutory time limitation to bring a FECA claim begins to run from the date of injury.
If a claim is not filed within 3 years, compensation may still be paid if written notice of injury was given within 30 days or if the employer had actual knowledge of the injury within 30 days after it occurred.
There is nothing to prohibit the federal employee from filing the claim. Timeliness is determined by the OWCP district office as part of the adjudication process. 5 U.S.C. § 8122; 20 C.F.R. §§ 10.100-10.101.
Did someone’s carelessness cause your injury in an accident in Florida, or on a cruise or boat?
I want to represent you if you were injured in an accident in Florida, on a cruise ship or boat. If you live in Florida but were injured in another state we may also be able to represent you.
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in 2013 and has been completely revamped and updated.