How long after a slip and fall can I sue for damages?

If you suffered one or more injuries caused by a slip and fall, you have a limited amount of time to claim damages. Each state has established what is referred to as a statute of limitations. The statute dictates how long an injured party has to file a civil lawsuit that seeks compensation for all of their damages.

Caution wet floor sign

Most states have established a deadline for filing a slip and fall lawsuit between two and four years. Florida Statutes section 95.11(3)(a) sets the deadline for filing a slip and fall lawsuit at four years. This requirement means that, in most cases, you have four years from the date of a slip and fall incident to file all the proper paperwork required to initiate a claim.

Four years seems like plenty of time to build a case against another party. However, you should act with a sense of urgency by contacting an experienced Treasure Coast slip and fall attorney as soon as you are hurt or discover you are injured. The sooner you start, the more likely it is that you can gather a preponderance of evidence needed to prove your claim. Also, the faster you initiate legal action, the faster you might receive monetary damages to take care of costly medical bills and other financial losses.

If you fail to meet the four-year statute of limitations for filing a slip and fall lawsuit in Florida, you can expect the court to dismiss your case in most instances. However, there are exceptions that may apply, so never assume you have no legal standing until you have an experienced attorney review your case.

Does the Statute of Limitations Only Apply to Lawsuits?

No. It is true that you do not need to file a lawsuit in order to claim compensation from responsible parties. Instead, the majority of cases are settled out of court through an insurance claims process.

However, insurers know that injury victims have no legal recourse to compel them to pay a settlement once the statute of limitations lapses. In effect, when you lose your ability to sue, you simultaneously lose your ability to force an insurance company to consider your claim. Most insurance policies also try to place limits on the claim window, but as long as the possibility of a lawsuit exists they are still likely to consider your injury claim.

Because of the risk of the Florida statute of limitations for a personal injury claim lapsing, it is crucial to move forward quickly on your case and begin the claims process with the assistance of an experienced personal injury lawyer.

Are There Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations?

Yes there are exceptions to the rule that the claim eligibility window closes four years from the date of the accident. These exceptions can be difficult to utilize since the defending party will likely file a motion to dismiss a lawsuit related to the claim. Once a judge approves this motion, it will be difficult — and in some cases, impossible — to begin another civil action seeking damages for your injury.

With that said, it’s important to not give up hope if the four-year window has lapsed or is looming in the near future. The following exemptions may apply to your slip and fall claim, thereby, extending your window to seek compensation.

Discovery of an Injury Past the Date of the Accident

In some slip and fall cases, the fall victim may not be aware that they are injured. They may also have a major injury go undiagnosed for months or years past their accident.

Any time an injury is discovered, the victim may have four years from the date of the discovery to file a claim or a lawsuit. However, the defense may request a dismissal if this discovery was made once the four-year statute of limitations has lapsed. The legal question at hand becomes “would a reasonable person have known they were hurt, and would they have known to take action closer to the date of the injury-causing fall?”

Nevertheless, the discovery rule can sometimes allow injury victims to continue with their claim even if four years have elapsed since the date of their accident.

Tolling of the Statute of Limitations

A “toll” is a temporary pause placed upon a case for the purposes of legally preserving eligibility to file a claim. In other words, any time the statute of limitations is tolled, the injury victim has more time available to wait until they are able to file the claim.

Common reasons a statute of limitations might be tolled are found in Florida Statutes § 95.051, and they include:

  • A minor was injured under age 18
  • An injury victim lacks mental capacity and needs more time to obtain representation
  • A defendant left the state of Florida before the lawsuit was filed
  • A defendant has gone into hiding to avoid facing the lawsuit (i.e. service of process could not be completed)

Refer to an experienced Florida slip and fall accident lawyer to see if either tolling or a statute of repose could apply to your case and if other extenuating circumstances might mean more time to file your injury claim.

What Are the Types of Monetary Damages for a Slip and Fall?

Personal injury cases typically involve three broad categories of monetary damages: special, general, and punitive.

Special compensatory damages cover economic losses such as medical expenses and repairs to damaged property. You also have the right to seek compensation for lost wages, which refers to the income you were unable to earn while you were recovering from your injury. 

General compensatory damages cover non-economic damages, which frequently include pain and suffering and loss of enjoyment of life. 

Punitive damages penalize the defendant for committing one or more acts of negligence. Judges often award higher amounts for punitive damages in cases that involve intentional negligence.

Work With a Florida Slip and Fall Attorney

Working with a Florida slip and fall lawyer can improve your chances of receiving compensation for all of your damages. Most slip and fall cases never see the light of a courtroom, either, which means your legal counsel helps you file a claim through the insurance system. However, time is of the essence whether you are suing or filing an insurance claim, so do not hesitate to reach out to us for a free, no-obligation case review.

Learn more about how we can help you receive compensation for your slip and fall injuries by calling us at 866-460-1990 or contacting us online.


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