Unfortunately, avoidable accidents are a prevalent occurrence across the U.S and beyond. These incidents sometimes occur due to someone’s negligence. And when they do, they result in injuries, loss of property and income, and sometimes, death. Hence, it’s only fair for the injured to seek and get compensation. Grossman Attorneys at Law can help you navigate the challenge of filing a claim or pursuing legal action if you’re in such a situation.
That said, you’ve probably heard about the statute of limitations. If not, keep reading as we unearth what it implies about personal injury in Florida. And even if you’re in the know, it doesn’t hurt to brush up on your legal knowledge. So, let’s get to it.
The Standard Limit
The statute of limitations is a legal principle that determines when an injured person can file a lawsuit seeking compensation for their injuries. In Florida, the statute of limitations for most personal injury lawsuits is four years from the date of the accident. For instance, if you were injured in an accident on January 1, 2022, you would have until January 1, 2026, to file a lawsuit.
Let’s point out that such lawsuits fall under the guiding principle of “negligence.” In short, one person or company is accused of not meeting their duty to another, which results in some form of harm.
You may want to consider filing a personal injury lawsuit for various reasons. Maybe you were in a car accident and suffered serious injuries. Or perhaps, you slipped and fell at a store and broke your arm. If another person’s negligence caused your injuries, you might be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
An attorney can help you understand the statute of limitations and whether it applies to your case. They can also help you gather evidence and build a strong case. Don’t wait too long to get started on your injury claim.
What Happens When You Miss the Deadline?
Time is of the essence when you need to file a personal injury lawsuit. Let’s suppose some factors impeded you from filing a lawsuit within the four-year window. So, what happens when you do so after the time lapses?
The defendant’s lawyer will likely be quick to point this out in court. As a result, the judge would inevitably dismiss your case, meaning you would miss your chance to get compensation – regardless of how significant your damages might have been. That also implies the court would let the defendant off the hook no matter the clarity of their liability.
And if a settlement negotiation was an option, note that the legal filing deadline would also impact your position. In short, you would lose the leverage you had once the four-year timeframe lapses, making your lawsuit a procedural impossibility.
Well, you must wonder, “does this cloud have a silver lining?” Yes. In some circumstances, the law allows an extension of the timeframe. So, all hope isn’t lost. Hereunder are the details:
Florida law acknowledges potential scenarios that may allow for an extension of the four-year deadline. Here’s a breakdown of circumstances that may allow for more time to file a personal injury lawsuit in the state:
- The defendant relocates after the accident: If the at-fault party skips town or leaves Florida following the accident, the clock on the statute of limitations may pause until they return to the state.
- The defendant conceals their identity: This may imply going into hiding, changing one’s name, or using a false identity to avoid detection. Hence, it may be difficult to find them, file a lawsuit against them, or summon them to court.
- You are incapacitated: Incapacitation, in this case, implies mental illness – temporary or permanent – after the accident. If this happens, the statute of limitations may extend to seven years.
- You were a minor at the time of the accident: If you were under the age of 18 when the accident occurred, you have seven years following the injury to file a personal injury lawsuit.
- Late discovery of an Injury: Some injuries only become apparent later – after an accident. If you discover an injury after an accident, the clock starts ticking after the discovery and not when the incident occurred.
Sometimes, the deadline may be shorter than the standard four years. For instance, you should file a lawsuit for wrongful death lawsuit within two years following the death of a loved one. However, the timeline may extend if the court rules that the negligent defendant may have concealed the cause of death.
Generally, the statute of limitations prevents you from seeking a legal remedy indefinitely. It also helps speed up the resolution of a case. If you’re planning to pursue legal action, it helps to consult a knowledgeable attorney. That way, you can start the process early enough, provide evidence, settle matters, and hopefully get closure.