Catastrophic injuries are life-changing injuries that forever affect a person's life. Fortunately, victims, in many cases, are entitled to pursue valuable damages from the parties who have harmed them. However, there is a time limit for doing so. Additionally, various legal concerns could require timely action in catastrophic injury claims.

Legal Time Limits — When to File a Suit for Catastrophic Injuries

Most legal actions in Florida and other states are governed by time limits known as statutes of limitations that provide a deadline for taking a certain legal action. Without these deadlines, the courts would likely be flooded with difficult-to-prove cases from years past.

For those who have experienced a catastrophic injury, such as a brain injury, and have an actionable claim, the statute of limitations is two years. An actionable claim in this context is typically either a valid workers’ comp claim or a personal injury claim. Both are controlled by statutes of limitations.

The statute of limitations for catastrophic injuries filed under workers’ comp is also two years. When the victim files a personal injury claim instead of or in addition to a workers’ comp claim, the victim also has two years.

Keep in mind that the statute of limitations for personal injury cases previously sat at four years but was reduced to two years in 2023.

Importance of Timely Action — Preserving Your Ability to Pursue Compensation

As with most other legal issues, personal injury matters require timely action, without which a victim’s case may be much weaker or even end up void. If you have suffered a catastrophic injury or any other type of harm, swift legal action will help preserve your case and potentially lead to a stronger case.

As mentioned, swift action will help ensure that you remain in compliance with the appropriate filing deadlines. Swift action will also go a long way in helping your attorney build a strong case.

In most cases, the sooner a claimant takes legal action toward compensation (the first step of which should be speaking with an experienced catastrophic injury attorney), the stronger their case will be.

Evidence issues are common in most personal injury cases. The longer a victim waits to pursue compensation, the more evidence issues are likely to arise.

For example, valuable camera footage from traffic and surveillance cameras can be the evidence a victim needs to collect maximum compensation. However, if the victim waits to take action, the footage will likely be erased.

Other types of evidence can also become problematic over time, such as witness testimony when the memory is no longer fresh in their minds.

Consequences of Missing the Filing Deadline

The consequences of missing a filing deadline can be quite unfortunate. In most cases, those who miss a filing deadline can expect to lose their ability to seek compensation for their catastrophic injuries.

Whether the deadline is for a workers’ comp claim or a catastrophic injury lawsuit, missing a filing deadline is difficult or impossible to come back from without an exception to the filing rules.

If you have suffered a catastrophic injury and believe you have missed the filing deadline, you should contact an experienced attorney to review your case. You may qualify for one of the exceptions to the deadline.

The Role of a Catastrophic Injury Attorney

The primary role of a catastrophic injury attorney is to recover as much compensation as possible for their clients. Achieving this requires the attorney to represent their client during settlement negotiations, mediation, or a trial. Throughout, the attorney will vigorously defend and protect their client's legal and financial interests relating to the claim.

Catastrophic injury attorneys also take on the burden of pursuing compensation, which gives victims of these accidents the time and space they need to properly heal and adapt to their circumstances. 

FAQ

Are There Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations for Catastrophic Injuries?

Yes. Florida has a few exceptions to the two-year statute of limitations for catastrophic injury claims. Generally, the statute of limitations can be tolled when the victim is under 18 years old, mentally incapacitated, or if the defendant hides or leaves the state.

Keep in mind that statute of limitations issues are tricky and typically require the experience of a skilled attorney to resolve.

Are There Any Catastrophic Injury Claims With No Statute of Limitations?

No. All claims involving catastrophic injuries in Florida are controlled by some type of statute of limitations and statute of repose.

What Is a Statute of Repose?

A statute of repose sets an absolute time limit for a specific legal action. As mentioned, statutes of limitation are time limits. However, there are exceptions to the statute of limitations that effectively extend it. However, the statute of repose is a bright-line deadline for which there are typically no exceptions.

In Florida, the statute of repose for catastrophic injuries is set at four years in most cases. Regardless of the circumstances, there can be no legal claim against the injurer after four years have passed. One exception deals with medical malpractice and fraud. With fraud, the statute of repose can be extended to seven years.

Don’t Hesitate to Contact an Experienced Catastrophic Injury Attorney for Representation

If you or someone you care about has suffered a catastrophic injury caused by someone else, you may be entitled to access valuable funds to address your losses. Ratzan Weissman & Boldt are ready to listen and fight for you. Contact our office to speak with an experienced catastrophic injury lawyer.