A legal term thrown around in a number of contexts during everyday discourse is statute of limitation. But what exactly are statutes of limitations, how do they apply in different legal contexts such as personal injury, and what effect can they have on a case?
Put simply, statute of limitation is a law enacted by a legislature stating that a person with a legal claim must bring that claim within a given period of time. These claims are not limited to civil matters such as breach of contract or personal injury. Many times the law will equally put limits on a how long a prosecutor can bring criminal charges for alleged conduct. Think of statutes of limitations as an expiration date on a gallon of milk.
Statutes of limitations are a legal construct created by state legislatures, but why? If a person has a legal claim that is based on a point in time in the past, anything that happens going forward does not affect that claim or whether an event happened or not. There are several reasons that are used to justify their existence.
One primary justification is based on an ancient legal doctrine known as laches. This is a principle that says if a claimant rests on legal claim, and does not pursue it, they should lose that claim. Historically, this doctrine was used a defense in courts of equity in England when a person had waited years and years to make a claim. The idea is that if someone waits too long to bring a claim, it must not be that important.
Another justification for enacting and enforcing statutes of limitations is certainty. In our capitalist society, people and institutions need degrees of certainty to operate effectively. Business deals, contracts, and agreements often rest on what a company or person can do financially, and that is limited if a person could bring claims in court from a legal claim that is dozens of years old.
Statute of Limitation for Personal Injury in Florida
Like most other claims, personal injury lawsuits must be brought within the statute of limitations to remain valid. In Florida, personal injury claims are limited by a four year statute of limitations. That law can be found in Florida Statutes 95.11. This means that a person must bring a claim for personal injury based on negligence within four years of when it is known to have happened.
There can be exceptions to this general rule, but they are rare. As a result, it is important that as soon as a person is victimized by negligence and injured, they contact an attorney to talk about their claim, and if needed, file a suit before the statute of limitation is run out.
If you or someone you love has been injured in an accident, or through another’s negligence, contact us. At The Pittman Firm our entire practice is dedicated to helping those injured in accidents and by negligence to recover what is just and fair in their case.
See related blog posts: What Happens With a Supreme Court Tie?; What is the Medical Malpractice Cap in Florida?.