Should We Raise the Statute of Limitations for a Personal Injury Case?
By Danielle Lachance
Florida has many rules and regulations for lawsuits like personal injury cases. For instance, there is a pretty strict statute of limitations that helps to define when these cases can be brought to court. But some are demanding that this statute be extended. Is this a good idea? First, let’s examine the facts to understand better what our state’s laws say about personal injury lawsuits.
Current Florida Guidelines for Statute of Limitations on Personal Injuries
Florida currently has a statute of limitations on personal injuries that extends up to four years. This factor means that you have up to four years to file a lawsuit after your injury. However, there are ways that this statue may change, including when:
- Targeting the State Government – This time decreases to three years in these cases.
- Discovery Varies – Sometimes, various discoveries in a case allow victims to pause the statute.
- Legal Incapacitation Occurs – Florida allows statutes to pause temporarily in this situation.
- Defendants Interfere – If the defendant flees or impedes a case, the statute may be paused.
Beyond these rare occurrences, the statute of limitations is very strictly set at four years. But would there be a benefit in raising this limit and making it longer?
Benefits and Disadvantages of Raising This Limit
Let’s start by looking at the benefits of raising the statute of limitations for personal injuries in this state. First, we’ll start with a few simple facts and ideas that proponents of this change have suggested. Then, just a few of the most common potential benefits include how it might:
- Catch More Workplace Injuries – Workplace injuries make up many cases in this state, with forklift damage in warehouses and factories taking up a full 10% of these cases. With a longer statute, it may be possible to catch these cases more efficiently.
- Minimize Personal Intimidation – In workplace situations, people may feel intimidated to drop their case and wishing they’d changed their minds. Unfortunately, this could cost them the money that they deserve. Thankfully, more extended limits would minimize this problem by giving them time to find work.
- Help With Delayed Reactions – There may be a chance that an injury at work causes a delayed reaction that only hurts a person years down the road. With a longer statute of limitations, it would be easier to pursue these cases and win.
Are there any downsides to raising this limit? Here are a a few of concerns that have been raised to create a more fair and balanced examination of this issue:
- Higher risk of people abusing this system to get money.
- More significant caseloads that may clog up courts.
- Financial struggles in businesses due to higher payouts for cases.
The reality of the situation is that four years seems to provide most people with the time to pursue a case. However, some people may need more time to recover. For example, 22% of all slip and fall incidents force people to miss over 31 days (or one month) of work.
That kind of financial impact is massive and could occur later if a person’s slip and fall injury worsens with time and causes a person to miss even more work. However, the statute of limitations may leave them with minimal steps to get compensation.
Ultimately, this issue is complex and must be fully explored in the coming years. More research into longer statutes of limitations in other states will help create a streamlined understanding of how they may impact other areas. Just as importantly, implementation takes time and will require a lot of adjustment at the state, county, and city court levels.