Florida Personal Injury Law
Statutes of Limitations: The amount of time you have to sue whoever caused your injury or damage.
- Personal Injury – 4 years from the discovery of the injury
- Damage to Personal Property – 4 years
- Medical malpractice – 2 years from the date of discovery of the injury, but a maximum of 4 years total from the date of the malpractice
- Legal malpractice – 2 years from the date of discovery
- Other professional malpractice – 2 years from the date of discovery
Where to Sue:
- Personal injury claims under $5,000 – Florida Small Claims Court
- Personal injury claims $7,500 or more – Florida County Court
How to Sue:
Small Claims Court:
- Forms: Plaintiff’s Statement of Claim form. Forms can be obtained from the Colorado Small Claims Court in the county in which you are suing.
- Where to file: Where the defendant lives or where the injury occurred.
- How to notify the defendant (service): Certified mail with copy of Statement of Claim form and Notice to Appear, or service should be personally delivered to the defendant by a disinterested adult or a local county sheriff.
- Proving the defendant was notified: You must fill out and file a proof of service of process form, which can be obtained at the County Court where the suit is filed.
- Attorneys: Lawyer representation at the trial is allowed in Florida Small Claims Court.
- Appealing a small claim: Both the defendant and the plaintiff may appeal on questions of law, but not on questions of fact. The appeal must be filed with the Circuit Court within 30 days.
Florida County Court: You should seek the help of a qualified Florida personal injury attorney for help. The process and paperwork for filing a personal injury claim are involved, and any errors could cause you to lose the right to sue, or you could suffer other serious consequences.
- Forms: Summons, Statement of Claim, and Civil Case Coversheet (Form 1.997). Forms can be obtained from the Florida County Court where you intend to sue. Make copies of the forms for yourself, for the defendant, and for the court.
- How to File: File copies of the forms with the court clerk in the court where you were injured, or where the defendant lives, and pay a filing fee. The court will stamp the copies.
- How to Notify the Defendant: A disinterested person over the age of 18 or a registered process server or sheriff must give the stamped forms to the defendant personally and fill out a Proof of Service of Process. Then, bring a copy of the Proof of Service of Process and the original to the clerk and file it. Keep a stamped copy for yourself.
What to Do if You Are Being Sued:
- Time to respond to a Summons in Florida: 20 days.
- You should immediately seek aid from a lawyer.
- If the injury is related to an occurrence at your home or business, immediately contact your insurance company. Your insurance company may supply an attorney to represent you.
What to Do if A Judgment Was Entered Against You:
If you do not respond to a summons and complaint, a judgment will be entered against you, meaning that the plaintiff wins. You’ll owe whatever amount they claimed against you in the lawsuit unless you can have the judgment set aside.
- Time to Set Aside a Judgment in Florida:
- Not more than 1 year from the entry of judgment for mistake, surprise, excusable neglect, or if you did not have “actual” notice of the lawsuit.
- Seek counsel of a lawyer if a default judgment has been entered against you.
Ways to Collect Your Judgment:
- If you are successful in your Florida personal injury lawsuit, you may collect your judgment by placing a lien on and seizing the debtor’s personal or real property, garnishing the debtor’s bank account, or by garnishing the debtor’s wages.
- Seek help from a qualified Florida debt collection attorney to collect your judgment.