Is my Lawsuit Barred by the Statute of Limitations?

For a myriad of reasons, many people procrastinate when it comes time to make the big decision….to sue…or not to sue? Some reasoning behind this logic may include: the issues in the lawsuit are too painful to relive, or the thought of paying an attorney an astronomical fee is ridiculous or one might even ponder the idea that spending over 1 year of their life in court and then losing their case.  Whatever the reason may be, you need to remember one thing…..Tick Tock – your lawsuit has an expiration date, do you know when yours is?

So what exactly is a “Statute of Limitations”?  A statute of limitations is a law which places a time limit on pursuing a legal remedy in relation to wrongful conduct. After the expiration of the statutory period, unless a legal exception applies, the injured person loses the right to file a lawsuit seeking money damages or other relief.  In Plain English, what does this mean?  There are deadlines to filing lawsuits.  If you blow the deadline to file your suit – YOU ARE FOREVER BARRED!

Although people often speak of “the statute of limitations”, in fact there are many statutes which apply limitations periods to civil actions. Sometimes it can be difficult to keep track of the various statutes and their exceptions. Thus it is a very good idea for somebody who is concerned about losing their right to sue as a result of the expiration of the statutory limitations period to consult with an experienced lawyer, who can advise you as to the preservation of your right to recover damages.


The following list is provided by way of example. If you wish to know how the statute of limitations applies to your specific situation, you should verify the statutory time period and its relevance to your situation by contacting an experienced Florida lawyer.

1 year statute of limitations:

  • An action to enforce rights under the Uniform Commercial Code.
  • An action for specific performance of a contract.
  • An action to enforce an equitable lien arising from the furnishing of labor, services, or material for the improvement of real property.

2 year statute of limitations:

  • Professional Malpractice: (medical malpractice): 2 years from the date of the act giving rise to injury, or within two years from the date the injury was or should have been detected, but no malpractice action may be commenced more than four years following the act giving rise to the injury. These limitations apply to minors aged eight or older.
  • Libel / Slander / Defamation.
  • An action to recover wages or overtime or damages or penalties concerning payment of wages and overtime.
  • An action for wrongful death.

4 year statute of limitation:

  • Personal Injury.
  • Fraud.
  • Injury to Personal Property.
  • Product Liability.
  • Oral Contract.
  • Paternity Action, with the time running from the date the child reaches the age of majority.
  • Construction Defect (An action founded on the design, planning, or construction of an improvement to real property, with the time running from the date of actual possession by the owner, the date of the issuance of a certificate of occupancy, the date of abandonment of construction if not completed, or the date of completion or termination of the contract between the professional engineer… – note that, when the action involves a latent defect, the time runs from the time the defect is discovered or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence. In any event, the action must be commenced within 10 years after the date of actual possession by the owner, the date of the issuance of a certificate of occupancy, the date of abandonment of construction if not completed, or the date of completion or termination of the contract between the professional engineer, registered architect, or licensed contractor and his or her employer, whichever date is latest.
  • An action for assault, battery, false arrest, malicious prosecution, malicious interference, false imprisonment, or any other intentional tort.

5 year statute of limitation:

  • Breach of Written Contract
  • An action to foreclose a mortgage.
  • An action alleging a willful violation.
  • an action for breach of a property insurance contract, with the period running from the date of loss.

What if I do not timely discovery the facts giving rise to my lawsuit?

Sometimes it is not reasonably possible for a person to discover the cause of an injury, or even to know that an injury has occurred, until considerably after the act which causes the injury. For example, an error in the drafting of a will might not be noticed until the will is being executed, decades after it was drafted, or a financial planner’s embezzlement might not be noticed for years due to the issuance of false statements of account.  Thus, the “discovery rule” permits a suit to be filed within a certain period of time after the injury is discovered, or reasonably should have been discovered. The discovery rule does not apply to all civil injuries, and sometimes the period of time for bringing a claim post-discovery can be short, so it is important to seek legal counsel quickly in the event of the late discovery of an injury.

Tolling of the Statute of Limitations:

Tolling the statute of limitations means that something has stopped the statute from running for a period of time. Some examples are:  minority age (the victim of the injury was a minor at the time the injury occurred), mental incapacity (the victim of the injury was not mentally competent at the time the injury occurred), or the defendant’s bankruptcy (the “automatic stay” in bankruptcy ordinarily tolls the statute of limitations until such time as the bankruptcy is resolved or the stay is lifted).

Most claims (with the exception of med mal claims) for injuries sustained by a minor as a result of negligence must be brought within four years of the date of the injury. Under Florida law, for injuries to a child under the age of eight resulting from medical malpractice – a lawsuit must filed by the child’s eighth birthday or within the standard limitations period outlined above, whichever time period is greater.

The Bottom Line….

Don’t Delay, Call Today…It is better to know your rights and decide how to use them, rather than to not know them and learn they have been taken away from you.

This Article was written by Attorney, Sommer C. Horton, of the Horton Law Group, P.A.  If you have questions about your case or about Florida law in general, please feel free to contact Ms. Horton at 561-299-0018 or email her at [email protected]