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When Does a Florida Statute of Limitations Begin to Run?

All Florida personal injury cases must be brought within a certain amount of time. Florida Statutes section 95.11 provides the statutes of limitations for each cause of action. For example, most personal injury lawsuits alleging negligence must be brought within four years; however, Florida medical malpractice lawsuits must be brought within two years.

It is essential that a plaintiff is aware of the applicable statute of limitations in their case, so they know how long they have to bring their case. However, determining when a statute of limitations begins to run can be tricky. For example, the statute of limitations in a Florida medical malpractice lawsuit begins when the “incident was discovered, or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence.”

Recently, a federal appellate court issued an opinion interpreting a similar statute of limitations regarding a lawsuit brought against a prescription drug manufacturer.

The Facts of the Case

According to the court’s opinion, the plaintiff was prescribed Vioxx between 1999 and 2004. Evidently, in 2000, the plaintiff suffered serious cardiovascular injuries; however, her physician continued to prescribe the medication. The plaintiff took Vioxx until 2002, around the time the manufacturer of the drug changed the drug’s label to include a warning of cardiovascular injury. Vioxx was later removed from the market in 2004.

In 2009, the plaintiff filed a personal injury lawsuit against Merck, the manufacturer of Vioxx. Merck responded by arguing that the plaintiff’s claim was time-barred because I was filed after the relevant statute of limitations, which stated that the five-year statute of limitations begins to run when the alleged injury is “sustained and is capable of ascertainment.” The court concluded that the plaintiff’s claim against Merck accrued before 2001, and dismissed her case.

On appeal, the case was reversed in favor of the plaintiff. The court held that at the time the plaintiff was taking it, there was conflicting evidence regarding whether the use Vioxx entailed cardiovascular risks. The court detailed some of the scientific literature that was available in the late 1990s and early 2000s, finding that while scientists were “increasingly confident” that there was a link between Vioxx and cardiovascular injury, the scientific community was still “tentative.” Also relevant was the fact that Merck scientists and representatives were contesting the validity of the studies suggesting Vioxx use could result in cardiovascular injury.

Ultimately, the court concluded that a reasonable person in the plaintiff’s position might not have known that Vioxx was what caused her cardiovascular injuries. Thus, the plaintiff’s case was allowed to proceed.

Have You Been Harmed by a Dangerous Drug?

If you or a loved one has recently discovered that you have been harmed by a dangerous medication, or are the victim of what you believe to have been medical malpractice, you may be entitled to monetary compensation through a Florida personal injury lawsuit. At Friedman Rodman & Frank, we represent injury victims and their families in all types of Florida injury claims, including medical malpractice cases and product liability claims. To learn more, call 877-448-8585 to schedule a free consultation today.

More Blog Posts:

What Is an Attractive Nuisance under Florida Personal Injury Law?, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published February 21, 2019.

Liability in Florida Sports Injury Cases, South Florida Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, published February 14, 2019.

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