When a traumatic auto accident occurs, it can leave you reeling both physically and mentally. Recovery takes time. But the time can end up going very quickly, so it is important to know how long you have to file a lawsuit for injuries due to someone else’s negligence. If you wait too long, you sacrifice your right to get compensated for any losses, including for lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering.
The Statute of Limitations in Florida
Statute of Limitations apply to both criminal and civil cases, and these statutes dictate how long you have to bring and file a lawsuit to protect your right to recovery.
In Florida, the Statute of Limitations to bring a lawsuit against the at-fault party is four (4) years. Meaning you have four (4) years to file a lawsuit in the state of Florida against an adverse driver for injuries sustained as a result of or stemming from their negligence.
You can attempt to settle your claim through the claims process by negotiating the value of your claim with an insurance adjuster. However, should this avenue fail to result in a settlement, you are prohibited by the law of continuing said claim in the state of Florida if you do not file a formal lawsuit through an attorney within four (4) years. The four-year statute of limitations begins to toll on the date of the accident.
The time frame for Statute of Limitations does vary depending on where you live in the United States. Some states allow for only two years for personal injury claims, such as Alabama, Georgia, and California. Other states will allow a person to file a personal injury claim for up to six years, including Maine, Minnesota, and North Dakota.
Exemptions to the Statute of Limitations in Florida
When you are filing an auto accident claim, and there was a death as a result of the accident, the claim is no longer negligence. It is considered to be a wrongful death claim. If this is the case, you will only have two years to file the claim. If this time expires prior to the claim being filed, the right will be lost to receive compensation.
Another exemption is when the claim is against a government employee. In Florida, you must give them notice within three years of the accident. The law also does not allow you to move forward with a lawsuit until a six-month (180 day) investigation is completed unless the government denies the claim.
Take Action and Don’t Delay Your Car Accident Claim
Even though, legally, you have quite a bit of time to file your claim for an auto accident, it is best not to delay to preserve as much evidence as possible. Doing so is valuable to your case and can serve to help optimize outcomes.
For example, when you are in an auto accident, there may have been something wrong with the other driver’s car that contributed to what happened, such as faulty brakes. If there is a delay in filing the claim, a repair may be performed on the vehicle, and that evidence would be gone.
Another reason is that memories sometimes get “fuzzy” over time. Being able to explain the facts clearly, confidently, and correctly strengthens your case. This is important not only for you and the other driver but also for potential witnesses to what happened at the time of the accident.
Best Practices After an Auto Accident
If possible, following best practices after an auto accident provides a solid foundation for a claim. These include the following actions:
- Making a police report and recording the number
- Getting the other driver’s information — insurance, contact information, and license plate number
- Documented damage to both vehicles including photos, and photos of the scene
- Visiting the doctor and keeping all health records related to any injuries from the accident
- Consulting with an attorney experienced in auto accidents and personal injury claims
Traumatic car accidents can affect your health, finances, family, and even your career. Take action as soon as possible, and before the Statutes of Limitations run out for you to get justice.
Contact us today at 727-937-1400 for immediate assistance with your case.