Your Claim May not be Barred – Understanding the “Discovery Rule”

Victims of negligence in Hillsborough County or surrounding areas of Florida may often feel they have let too much time pass without filing suit. Relatives or other trusted friends might have told them they only have two years to file a lawsuit. Sadly, for this reason many people decide not to try. They give up without ever consulting a local central Florida personal injury attorney. If they had, they may have learned about something called the “discovery rule.”

What is my Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations is a set period of time that limits when you can bring a lawsuit. It is a strict limit that is almost never waived. The goal is to give certainty to the whole justice system. We do not want potential defendants living their whole lives with a cloud hanging over their heads, wondering when they might be sued. At the same time, we do want to give the public plenty of time to think about their injuries, consider the options, and make an informed decision. On the other hand, there are many times people may not even know they were injured until many years later.

For instance, a physician may miss a critical indication of cancer that, if properly diagnosed, could have been easily treated. The negligence may not be realized until a decade later, when the person mysteriously begins suffering symptoms and learns that he is now terminal. In such a case, it would be unfair to say he has passed the statute of limitations, because he didn’t even know the physician had made a mistake. So a discovery rule simply says the clock starts running when the victim became aware of the negligence, or should have become aware of it upon reasonably diligent investigation.

Does the Discovery Rule Apply to my Case?

Florida tort laws vary depending on the type of negligence you suffered. Some allow more time than others.

General Negligence & Personal Injury

Four Years – You must file your lawsuit within four years of the negligent act. This generally will apply to automobile accidents as well; however, there are exceptions.

Wrongful Death

Two Years – Although this rule applies to wrongful death, sometimes a different limitation period may apply to other related claims, depending on what form of negligence caused the death.

Medical Malpractice

Two Years – This means you have two years to file your case from the time the negligent act happened or the date on which it should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence.

Remember, only a licensed attorney in Florida can give you an accurate calculation of your time limit for filing suit. If you were injured by negligence in Florida, do not wait. You should also never be discouraged. Even if you look at the information above and think you may have missed the deadline, you should still consult an attorney at the Romero Law Firm to discuss your case.

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