Almost every store has a time limit for how long you have to return an item that you purchased. There is a time limit for how long you have to pay a bill. And there is a time limit for how long you have to file a claim for a personal injury.
Over four weeks, we are looking at automobile accidents and going into detail about different aspects of preparing your case if you find yourself in this type of situation.
Last week, we looked at getting into an accident with an uninsured driver. Below, in Part 2, we are going to talk about the statute of limitations on personal injury claims in Florida.
Florida’s Injury Claim Statute of Limitations
Florida, like every other state, has a law – the statute of limitations – that determines the deadline for the amount of time you have to file a civil suit against a person or business who may be liable for your injuries.
When it comes to personal injury cases in Florida, an injured person has four years – starting from the date of the accident and including weekends and holidays – to file a lawsuit. If you miss this deadline for filing your claim, the court most likely won’t accept or hear your case at all.
There are certain situations where an injury may not present itself in the four-year period after an accident. In those rare instances, that four-year period could be extended to account for the later discovery of an injury.
Filing an Injury Claim against the Government
To be clear, that four-year deadline to file a personal injury claim applies only if it is against a person or business. If the accident involved a government employee or government property, there is a different procedure.
Let’s say a city bus hits your car and you are injured. Because the bus driver works for the city government, you only have three years from the date of the accident to file a “Notice of Claim” to the government. They must then respond within that three-year time frame.
As with personal injury claims, you may be able to get an extension if you discover a government entity was involved after the fact.
No-Fault Car Insurance
Although the statute of limitations gives you four years to file a personal injury claim, you aren’t able to hold the other driver in a car accident liable for your injuries unless you have a “serious injury.”
This is because Florida is a no-fault car insurance state. If you are involved in a car accident in our state, your car insurance company will provide the coverage for your medical expenses and lost wages. No matter whose fault the accident was.
This is why it’s extremely important to make sure that you are properly insured if you’re going to be driving a vehicle. Suffering injuries from a car accident without insurance could end up being very costly for you.
Also, Florida law requires that residents have the minimum insurance coverage amounts of personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage liability (PDL) car insurance. If you don’t have car insurance or you cancel your car insurance, the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FDHSMV) will be notified and your license could be suspended.
The Comparative Negligence Law
If you’re involved in an accident and you suffer serious injuries, your settlement options will depend upon who was “at fault” for causing the accident. You may be fully to blame for the accident. The other driver may be the one at fault. Or, you both might share the blame.
The compensation you could possibly receive from a settlement is determined by your percentage of fault for the accident. This is a “pure comparative negligence rule.” Once your percentage of fault for the accident is determined, the compensation you are entitled to will be reduced by that percentage.
For example, let’s say you were in a car accident where a driver ran a stop sign, but you were also driving a little bit over the speed limit. Because you were speeding, you might be 10 percent at fault for the accident. That means the driver who ran the stop is 90 percent at fault. If the total amount of damages is equal to $100,000, you would get 10 percent less than that amount because you are 10 percent to blame for the accident. Instead of $100,000, you would receive $90,000.
Even if you were the one found to be 90 percent at fault, you could still receive $10,000 (or 10 percent).
As you can see, the laws in Florida are complicated when it comes to injuries from car accidents. If you have been injured in a crash, your best bet at getting fair and just compensation is to contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible.
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 1998. 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 association