After it is over, it can be easy for auto accident victims to ignore small symptoms. After all, you may experience back or neck pain just from hunching over your work desk all day, so it doesn’t seem all that odd if you have notice them after a crash. Plus, a lot of people are just happy that nothing more serious happened and may want to get back to their normal lives as soon as possible.
Unfortunately, this is a big mistake. Often, car crash injuries may not make themselves known right away, and if victims are not seen by a doctor, problems can stick around for years – and even develop into something worse.
Examples of Delayed Injuries
Herniated Discs and Back Injuries – One of the most common injuries that occurs in a car accident. The impact of your car getting into an accident can send your spine in a direction that it did not anticipate going, sometimes messing with the alignment or position of different parts of your spine.
One of the most affected areas is the discs that separate your vertebrae. They absorb most of the impact when your spine is hit or impacted. In some cases, discs can be jostled around, or leak out of their position between your vertebrae. This is called a herniated disc, and can be overlooked or unnoticed for years. Continual damage or wear to your spine without the proper cushioning of your discs, however, can eventually cause pinched nerves and major back pain.
Concussions and Head Injuries – We have all heard tragic stories like that of actress Natasha Richardson: she fell while learning to ski, and although her symptoms did not show up immediately, her head injuries led to her death two days later.
The lesson? Concussions and other head injuries may not show symptoms immediately. In some cases, a second or third head injury is the only way to see the impact of your head injury, which poses great risks for a variety of medical issues.
PTSD – Not all injuries can be discovered through your yearly physical. Car accidents, especially those that involve injuries to yourself or a loved one, can be traumatic. Experiencing trauma poses the risk of developing Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, causing disturbing memories, flashbacks, or anxiety attacks.
How the Florida Statute of Limitations Comes into Play
Even if your injuries did not show up until years after your accident, you deserve to be compensated for the damages you suffered. But the law doesn’t always work in your favor.
One of the policies restricting individuals from receiving the compensation they deserve is the statute of limitations Florida attaches to personal injury claims. The statute of limitations gives victims a time limit in which they can file a claim. Florida has a four-year statute of limitations for auto accidents.
But what if you discovered your injuries more than four years after your car accident? You’re not completely out of options.
Filing a Claim for Delayed Injuries
If you are hoping to file a claim seeking compensation for auto accident injuries four or more years after the accident occurred, the first thing you should do is look over the documents you and your insurance company drew up or exchanged after your accident. Many insurance companies will have you sign paperwork for your initial claim or settlement. Look carefully – sometimes, this paperwork will require you to pay for your medical treatment after your settlement is finished.
You may be able to file a separate personal injury claim, citing that your delayed discovery of your injury allows you to file under Florida’s statute of limitations. The statute of limitations begins at the date of an accident or the discovery of a wrong, so the start date can be put up for debate.
If there is reasonable cause to believe your injuries could have been identified earlier, you may still be denied your case. But some delayed discovery cases do make it to court.
Then comes the hard part. In any personal injury case involving an auto accident, the person filing the claim will have to prove the following:
- The auto accident resulted in the injuries in question
- You suffered financial or other losses from those injuries
Proving these two points will prove that the auto accident resulted in your financial losses or damages.
It may be more complicated to prove your accident caused your injuries years after the accident happened. But there are ways to show the court that even though your symptoms and injuries were delayed, you still deserve compensation.
An experienced Florida personal injury lawyer will be able to help you through the process of gaining evidence, filing a claim, and getting the compensation you deserve for your injuries. If you believe you have a case on your hands, get in touch with us today.
About the Author:
John K. Lawlor, a South Florida personal injury attorney who focuses his practice on complex personal injury, wrongful death, and professional malpractice, founded the law firm of Lawlor, White & Murphey in 1996. Since 1995, Mr. Lawlor’s trial advocacy and litigation skills, as well as his wide-ranging legal expertise, have provided plaintiffs and their families with a distinct advantage when seeking financial compensation and justice for injuries caused by the negligence of others. Mr. Lawlor is an EAGLE member of the Florida Bar Association and an active member of the American Association for Justice, the Broward County Justice Association, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and several professional associations.