The purpose of statutes of limitations is to ensure that legal claims are brought forward in a timely manner and to protect defendants from having to defend against stale or outdated claims. Statutes of limitations set a specific time frame in which a legal claim must be filed, after which the claim is barred, and the defendant is no longer liable for it.
Statutes of limitations are based on the idea that as time goes by, memories fade, evidence may be lost, and it becomes increasingly difficult for a defendant to mount a defense against a claim. Additionally, statutes of limitations are intended to promote finality in legal disputes and to prevent plaintiffs from indefinitely holding onto a claim.
It also helps the court to manage its docket efficiently and not to be bogged down with old cases where the evidence may be lost or the people involved may have passed away or are not available.
Statutes of limitation vary depending on the type of legal claim and jurisdiction, and it’s important to be aware of the specific time frame within which a claim must be brought in order to be considered valid.
When it comes to legal matters, there are almost always exceptions. In Florida, you can “toll the statute of limitations period.” That’s simply a way of saying that the limitation period is going to be suspended or placed on hold, kind of like stopping the clock. Tolling the statute of limitations period gives a plaintiff additional time to file a lawsuit.
There are certain criteria in place to toll the statute of limitations in Florida.
- Absence or concealment of the defendant. If the defendant is absent from the state or is being concealed within the state in an attempt to prevent a lawsuit from being served, the limitations period may be tolled. This provision is intended to help plaintiffs who are dealing with irresponsible defendants who prolong the process or evade service of process.
- If someone named in the suit is a minor. In Florida, the statute of limitations for a minor does not begin until the minor reaches the age of majority, which is 18-years-old.
- Legal disability: If the plaintiff is legally disabled, such as being under a guardianship, the statute of limitations may be tolled (stopped) until the disability is removed.
- Fraud: If the defendant has committed fraud in order to conceal the cause of action, the statute of limitations may be tolled until the fraud is discovered.
Though Florida law provides for tolling in certain specific circumstances, ignoring the statute of limitations is a significant danger. Plaintiffs with legitimate claims can lose their right to file a lawsuit and recover payment for injustices. It is important to consult with an attorney to determine whether any exceptions apply to a specific case and how they may impact the statute of limitations.
Contact ZinnLaw for Assistance
Nearly all civil cases are subject to statutes of limitations. Talk with one of our experienced attorneys if you think you have a case that’s related to real estate, construction, or contract law. ZinnLaw of Fort Myers can help you understand how the statute of limitations applies to your case. Contact us today at (239) 418-1529 – that’s (239) I-1 U-1 LAW – to schedule a complimentary consultation.