When one speaks of the statute of limitations, it is important to know that there are several. Most causes of action have their own statute, though they may be very similar. It is important to know what the statute of limitations is on your cause of action before you begin to bring suit; if you are too late, the harm done to you may go unpunished.
A statute of limitations is the amount of time that can pass before your legal claim can no longer be prosecuted. Statutes exist for civil and criminal causes of action, but usually civil statutes of limitations are shorter. Determining when they begin to run can be difficult, however; the general rule is that statutes of limitations run from the date of the injury, the date it was discovered, or the date it would have been discovered with reasonable effort. The latter can be difficult to pin down; the standard of ‘reasonable effort’ is subjective, not objective. The ‘discovery rule’ exists to help ameliorate this: it is a rule that provides that a claim can be filed after the period when ‘reasonable effort’ would have discovered the injury.
It is also important to distinguish a statute of limitations from a statute of repose. A statute of repose bars any claim by a plaintiff after the statutory period has expired, even if the plaintiff is injured after that time. For example, if there was a ten year statute of repose on the manufacture of a certain model of car, and a plaintiff was injured in an accident with that car in year eleven, the plaintiff would not be permitted to file an action, even though they were injured.
Getting Around The Statute of Limitations
It is possible in some situations to claim an exception to the statute, or to argue that the statute has not yet lapsed. The concept of tolling is often used to try and obtain more time to file. The tolling of a statute of limitations means that the statute has stopped running for a certain period of time. There are several factors in Florida that can toll a statute, including the minority of a party to a suit (if the plaintiff is a minor at the time of the injury), failure of service of process, and mental incompetency of a defendant (at the time of the injury, or later).
Minority does have one caveat in Florida: with the exception of medical malpractice, any injury against a minor as a result of negligence must be filed within four years of the date of the injury.
Another possibility that renders the statute of limitations null and void is the possibility of a defense waiver. If a plaintiff tries to file a suit after the expiration of the statute of limitations, the defendant can move for dismissal based on that expiration; in Florida, the statute is an affirmative defense, meaning that it bars recovery if deemed valid. However, the defendant can waive that defense; if they feel strongly about their position being right, they can voluntarily agree to the suit. If a defendant has caused a plaintiff not to file until after the statute expired, however, the court will usually automatically waive the statute and allow the plaintiff to file.
A Miami Attorney Can Help You Today
If you have questions on the statute of limitations for a specific cause of action, please contact Kaire & Heffernan, LLC today. Our Miami attorneys can help.