According to the Tampa Bay Times, Brooke Coats, a 16-year old girl died Feb. 18, 2011, in Brandon, Hillsborough County Florida after a bull she was riding kicked her. She died, that night, of internal injuries. To protect their claim against the two year wrongful death statute of limitations, her family brought suit in Hillsborough County Civil Court.

The family claims that the main defendant, the company that runs the rodeo, allowed Brooke to ride an “aggressive bull above her skill level,” and failed to provide appropriate medical care at the site including waiting too long to call an ambulance. There are 18 defendants because it’s not clear who owns the Hillsborough land where the incident occurred.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

The Statute of Limitations is a time limit which defines when claimants may bring a lawsuit in a jurisdiction. If claims are brought after the statute of limitations they will be permanently barred, preventing claimants from having their day in court. Statutes of limitations are very complicated. It is essential that you contact an attorney immediately after you’ve had an accident or you think you might have a claim.

The statutes of limitations laws are essentially a fairness doctrine. After a certain time it becomes practically tougher to verify the truth of claims and to defend against those claims. The reliability of people’s memories starts to fade. Witnesses move. Companies do repairs to crucial pieces of evidence. For every type of action there’s a corresponding statute of limitations. As a practical matter you should consult with a lawyer as soon as you can.

Common Statute of Limitations Questions

The “starting” point in Florida is that claims for wrongful death must be brought within two years from the date the accident happened. But a host of questions may alter the exact date when a claim must be brought and when you should consult a lawyer.

Who is bringing the wrongful death claim?

In order to bring a wrongful death claim you have to know who is bringing the claim – an executor, an administrator, someone appointed by the local court. You have to allow time for the proper people to be appointed.

Is there a companion survival action claim?

There usually is. The survival action claim may have a separate and different statute of limitations?

What if you don’t reasonably learn the cause of the accident until after the statute of limitations has expired?

This can often be the case in product liability and medical malpractice cases and some other types of claims. Sometimes the Florida law will consider “when the accident or cause of the accident” should have reasonably been discovered.

What happens if the claim happens in another state?

Does the statute of limitations in the other state control or does Florida law control?

What happens if the defendant is a state or governmental entity?

Different statutes of limitations may apply.

What happens if the defendant dies?

In Florida, a personal representative has to be appointed to replace the defendant. The claimant has a short time frame (90 days) to file a motion to compel that a representative for the decedent defendant be appointed.

What happens if the incident that caused the death was intentional?

This may also alter the statute of limitations.

There are a lot of factors that determine the statute of limitations. Please seek legal advice as soon as possible to protect your claim from being forever barred and to protect your ability to prove your claim.

How Our Law Firm Can Help

If anyone you know is has suffered a wrongful death in Hillsborough County or in Florida our law firm help you get the recovery you deserve. During this difficult time we will help you receive the maximum compensation allowed by law and we will assist you through every step of the case. Our team of lawyers works with medical professionals, valuation experts, technical experts and other lawyers. If you or a loved one suffered an injury or a death please call us at 1-888-WE-MEAN-IT (1-888-936-3264) or email us at: [email protected].

Steve was born in New Orleans, Louisiana. As was the practice for new doctors his father worked day and night during his medical residency at Charity Hospital there. Steve comes from a long line of doctors. His father, his grandfather, his great grandfather, even two uncles were all specialists and/or surgeons in their chosen medical specialties, including internal medicine specialist, obstetrics / gynecology, neurosurgery and general practice / surgery. His great-great grandfather was the Surgeon General of Ohio during the Civil War.