Should we increase the limitation period for a personal injury case?

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By Danielle Lachance

Florida has many rules and regulations for lawsuits such as personal injury cases. For example, there is a fairly strict statute of limitations that defines when these cases can be brought to court. But some are asking that this status be extended. Is it a good idea? First, let’s take a look at the facts to better understand what our state’s laws say about personal injury lawsuits.

Current Florida Personal Injury Limitation Period Guidelines

Florida currently has a personal injury statute of limitations that extends up to four years. This factor means that you have up to four years to take legal action after your injury. However, this statue can change in different ways, including when:

  • Target the state government – This time frame is reduced to three years in these cases.
  • Findings Varies – Sometimes various findings in a case allow victims to suspend the law.
  • Legal Disability Occurs – Florida allows laws to temporarily pause this situation.
  • Defendants interfere – If the defendant runs away or obstructs a case, the law can be stayed.

Beyond these rare cases, the limitation period is very strictly set at four years. But would there be an advantage in raising this limit and extending it?

Advantages and disadvantages of increasing this limit

Let’s start by looking at the benefits of increasing the statute of limitations for personal injury in this condition. First, let’s start with some simple facts and ideas that proponents of this change have suggested. Then a few of the more common potential benefits include how it might:

  • Catch More Work Injuries – Workplace injuries make up many cases in this condition, with forklift damage in warehouses and factories accounting for 10% of those cases. With a longer status, it may be possible to capture these cases more effectively.
  • Minimize Personal Bullying – In work situations, people may feel intimidated to drop their business and wish they had changed their mind. Unfortunately, it could cost them the money they deserve. Fortunately, more extensive limits would minimize this problem by giving them time to find work.
  • Help with Delayed Reactions – An injury at work may cause a delayed reaction that doesn’t hurt a person until years later. With a longer statute of limitations, it would be easier to pursue these cases and win.

Are there any downsides to increasing this limit? Here are some of the concerns that have been raised to create a more fair and balanced review of this issue:

  • Higher risk that people will abuse this system to get money.
  • Higher workloads which can clog the courts.
  • Financial difficulties in businesses due to higher payments for cases.

The reality of the situation is that four years seems to give most people time to pursue a case. However, some people may need more time to recover. For example, 22% of all slip and fall incidents cause people to miss more than 31 days (or a month) of work.

This kind of financial impact is huge and could happen later if a person’s slip and fall injury worsens over time and requires a person to take even more time off work. However, the statute of limitations may leave them minimal steps to obtain compensation.

Ultimately, this issue is complex and needs to be fully explored in the years to come. Further research on longer statutes of limitations in other states will help better understand how they may impact other areas. Equally important, implementation is time consuming and will require many adjustments at the state, county and city court levels.


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