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Determining Which Statute of Limitations Applies in Personal Injury Cases

Under Florida law, all personal injury cases must be brought within a certain amount of time. Normally, this time frame is called the statute of limitations, and while there are some exceptions, the general rule is that a late-filed case cannot be heard by the courts, and the plaintiff will be without recourse for their injuries. While this concept is a straightforward one, determining which statute of limitations applies in a specific case is not always an easy task.

Different types of cases have different statutes of limitations. One of the strictest statutes of limitations is for medical malpractice cases. In many states, including in Florida, the statute of limitations in a medical malpractice case is two years. Compare that with the statute of limitations for general negligence cases, which is four years, and it is clear why it is important to determine at the outset which statute of limitations applies. Below is an example of one plaintiff’s experience bringing a traditional negligence case against a paramedic that initially was classified as a medical malpractice case.

Aldana v. Stillwagon:  The Facts

Stillwagon, an on-duty paramedic, caused an accident when he struck Aldana’s vehicle after running a red light. At the time, Stillwater was on his way to the medical emergency. Aldana filed a personal injury lawsuit against Stillwater 17 months after the accident, arguing that his negligence in running the red light caused his injuries.

In response to the case filed against him, Stillwater claimed that the court should dismiss it because it was time-barred. He argued that the case was filed past the one-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases. Stillwater’s position was that, since he was an on-duty medical professional when the accident occurred, the case was one of potential malpractice, and the appropriate statute of limitations should be applied.

The court hearing the case disagreed. The court explained that this was properly viewed as a traditional negligence lawsuit, and the longer statute of limitations should apply. The court noted that the accident was a “garden variety” traffic accident that did not involve Stillwagon’s duties as a medical professional. Also, the duty that Stillwagon allegedly violated in running the red light was one he owed to the public as a whole, rather than to a patient or anyone else to whom he was providing medical attention. Because of this, there was no reason to impose the stricter statute of limitations for medical malpractice cases.

Have You Been Injured in a South Florida Accident?

If you or a loved one has recently been injured in a South Florida car accident, you may be entitled to monetary compensation for all that you have been through. It should be noted, however, that defendants and their insurance companies will likely attempt to evade responsibility at any cost. The skilled personal injury attorneys at the South Florida law firm of Cecere Santana have decades of experience representing clients in all kinds of personal injury cases, and we know what it takes to succeed on our clients’ behalf. Call 800-753-5529 to set up a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

Plaintiff Loses Argument Regarding Whether Insurance Coverage Was “Per Vehicle” or “Per Accident”, Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published September 13, 2016.

Appellate Court Broadly Interprets Landowner’s Duty to Protect Visitors, Cecere Santana Injury Lawyers Blog, published July 28, 2016.

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