Anyone who has watched “Law & Order” or “Suits” on TV has probably has heard of the statute of limitations, but what exactly is Florida’s statute of limitations? How does it work in the Sunshine State?

key deadlines under Florida's statute of limitationsThe statute of limitations is a law passed by the legislature that determines how long from the date a claim accrues that a person or business has to file the claim in court.

The purpose of a statute of limitations is to ensure that lawsuits are brought within a reasonable time frame. This provides those involved in potential disputes with peace of mind after years pass, and prevents juries from having to decide claims that are so old that records have been lost and memories of witnesses have long since faded.

In Florida, the statute of limitations is found at Florida Statutes, Section 95.11.

Some of the most important limitations under Florida’s statute include:

  • Action to recover on a Florida judgment = 20 years
  • Breach of written contract = 5 years (only 4 years for oral contracts)
  • Claims involving the design, planning, or construction of real property = 4 years
  • Fraud claims = 4 years
  • Claims involving the payment of wages and overtime = 2 years
  • Defamation (libel and slander) claims = 2 years
  • Claims to enforce a payment bond involving a contract or subcontractor = 1 year

The Florida Legislature has created myriad exceptions that can be puzzling when trying to determine whether your claim is filed within the typical 1-5 year time frame for most claims.

Additionally, a few other legal concepts impact when the statute of limitations begins running, and whether it can be changed in particular circumstances.

Regardless of the particular length afforded by the statute of limitations, it begins running once a claim “accrues.” A claim accrues under Florida law when the last element constituting the cause of action occurs.

For example, a claim for breach of contract accrues, and the statute of limitations begins running, at the time of the breach. However, Florida law does allow for the delay of the accrual of a claim when the plaintiff does not know that he or she has a claim, such as when the defendant fraudulently conceals a breach of a contract.

If you are concerned about when a claim accrues or whether the statute of limitations has run on a potential claim against you or your business, please contact any member of Gunster’s business litigation legal team.

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