Statute of Repose vs Statute of Limitations Differences

Statute of repose vs statute of limitations differencesIf you are considering legal action for whatever reason, you may have seen the debate between statute of repose vs statute of limitations and what makes them similar and different.

Each term refers to state laws that set a time limit during which a plaintiff can file a civil lawsuit. Knowing the difference between the two can help you understand your rights and ensure that you file within the deadline if you decide to pursue a lawsuit.

What Is the Difference Between Statute of Limitations and Statute of Repose?

The main difference between a statute of repose vs statute of limitations is when the time for filing a lawsuit begins to run. With the former, the clock typically starts ticking when the plaintiff suffers harm or loss. With the latter, the time starts running when a specified event occurs.

A common issue here is that the event triggering the statute of repose (i.e., purchase of property or a product) can occur long before you suffer or discover that you have suffered harm. By then, the time limit for filing a lawsuit could have passed.

What Is a Statute of Repose?

Statute of repose Florida laws limits your ability to recover damages in a civil lawsuit by barring you from filing an action after a certain date.

These deadlines are much stricter than the ones set by statutes of limitations. For example, you cannot file a claim after the applicable deadline, even if you just discovered an injury, a defect, or a loss. A statute of repose definitively cuts off your right of action after a specified period has passed, no matter when a cause of action occurs.

The period of repose often comes up in product liability, construction defect, and medical negligence claims:

  • Product liability: You must file a lawsuit within 12 years of purchasing the product (Fla. Stat. §95.031(2)).
  • Medical malpractice: You have four years from the date of the malpractice or negligence to file a claim (Fla. Stat. §95.11(4)(b)).
  • Construction defects: You must bring a lawsuit within four years from the end of the construction project (Fla. Stat. §95.11 (3)(c)).

There are exceptions to these rules, so it is essential to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. They will explain the differences between statute of repose vs limitations and ensure that you do not miss any deadlines.

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations sets a time limit during which you must bring a lawsuit or forfeit your chance to do so forever. Statute of limitations Florida rules vary depending on the type of case.

Significant limitations under the Florida Statutes (Fla. Stat. §95.11) include:

  • Recorded judgement: 20 years
  • Breach of written contract: 5 years
  • Construction: 4 years
  • Fraud: 4 years
  • Medical malpractice: 2 years
  • Wage and overtime: 2 years
  • Defamation: 2 years
  • Payment bond: 1 year

Statute of Repose vs Statute of Limitations Comparison Chart

ComparisonStatute of reposeStatute of limitations
When They StartStarts after a specified triggering event (i.e., purchase of a product or property).Starts at the date of injury, loss, or discovery of the cause of action.
Time LimitsTime limits vary based on case type. The time can start running well before an injury occurs, reducing the total time to file a suit.Time limits vary based on case type. Exceptions to extend a deadline are possible, but the overall time may be cut short by a superimposing statute of repose.
ExceptionsExceptions may be allowed in limited cases involving fraud, misrepresentation, or concealment.A wider range of exceptions in cases involving minors, attempts to conceal evidence, prison inmates, or the timing of the discovery of the injury or damage.
Hard DeadlinesMuch stricter time limits on filing a suit, usually without exceptions.Deadlines are usually less strict, with more exceptions possible.
ApplicationsCommon applications include civil product liability, construction defects, and medical negligence lawsuits.Applies to both civil and criminal cases.

Statute of Repose vs Statute of Limitations: When They Start

Perhaps the biggest difference between statutes of repose and statutes of limitations is when they start running.

A statute of limitations starts running when the plaintiff suffers an injury or a loss, discovers a defect, or learns of the cause of action. A statute of repose begins to run when a specified event occurs.

For example, in construction cases, the statute of repose typically begins to run once construction is completed. In contrast, the statute of limitations is set off when you first discover the damage or defect, which could be months or even years after completing the project.

In medical malpractice claims, the clock for the statute of repose starts when the malpractice occurs, but the statute of limitations does not start running until you become aware of the injury or illness.

Statute of Limitations vs Statute of Repose: Time Limits

With statutes of limitations, the discovery rule applies. This means that the time starts to run when you discover or reasonably should discover the injury or damage.

This can extend the statute of limitations when the harm was not obvious. For example, to recover damages for medical malpractice in Florida, you must file within two years from the date of the incident. However, the discovery rule applies because you may not discover an injury in some cases until much later. This could extend the time up to an additional two years if you did not discover your injury right away.

However, you must still file no later than four years after the malpractice, regardless of when you discovered the injury. The statute of repose sets this strict deadline. The clock starts ticking from the date of the injury, whether you knew or should have known that malpractice occurred.

Difference Between Statute of Repose and Statute of Limitations Exceptions

In some cases, certain exceptions can allow you to extend the time frame in which you must file your claim.

In medical malpractice cases where you typically have two years (four years under the statute of repose) to file, you may be given more time under certain circumstances.

For example, if there is fraud, concealment, or misrepresentation on the defendant’s part that prevents you from learning of a wrongful act, you could receive an additional two years under the statute of limitations and seven years under the statute of repose.

However, if you do not file your case before the statute of limitations deadline – even before the statute of repose expires – this will bar your claim.

Other exceptions to the statute of limitations and statute of repose include:

  • When a plaintiff suffers mental incapacity before an accident or injury
  • When a claim involves a child
  • When there is a pending arbitration case

Statute of Repose vs Statute of Limitations: Hard Deadlines

Typically, the statute of repose enforces a much stricter time limit than the statute of limitations. The statute of repose sets a firm date after which the law bars legal action.

Difference Between Statute of Repose and Limitations Applications

The statute of repose typically applies to construction defect and injury-related cases when an individual suffers an injury or is a victim of malpractice. On the other hand, the statute of limitations can apply to many cases, from cases concerning breaches of contract to personal injury lawsuits.

Need Help with Statute of Limitations or Statute of Repose Cases?

Filing a lawsuit may be the last thing you think about after suffering an injury. But because of the statute of limitations and statute of repose, you have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit if you want to claim damages.

If you decide to seek legal action for your injury or another type of loss, it is essential to act fast and get expert help right away.

Contact an experienced litigation attorney from the Cueto Law Group today for a free consultation.