If you suffer a personal injury in Florida, you may be unsure of what to do next or whether you even have a valid claim to file for damages against the parties responsible.
As a personal injury victim, you have a limited time to take action following an injury that you believe occurs because of the negligence of another party. However, as time passes, you may risk losing your right to compensation or negatively affecting a personal injury claim or lawsuit.
Contact a Florida personal injury lawyer to determine the next best step for your case. An attorney can review the statute of limitations in your case and where you stand as far as the best time to file a claim for your interests.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
In many types of cases and in each jurisdiction, there are laws in place that limit the amount of time a plaintiff can have to take legal action for damages against the party or parties they believe are responsible for their injuries. The legal community refers to these laws as the statute of limitations.
A personal injury statute of limitations sets the time limit a personal injury victim has to file a lawsuit against a defendant seeking damages for their negligence. To determine what statute of limitations applies in your case, you must consider where the accident or injury occurred. Statutes of limitations differ from state to state, and you must know what statute of limitations applies to your personal injury case to know how much time you have to file a legal action in court.
What Is the Florida Statute of Limitations?
Florida’s statute of limitations gives injury victims two years to take legal action against the party or parties responsible. Two years can seem like a long time, but when it comes to complex legal cases, it can pass rather quickly.
Additionally, a victim should never wait to file a personal injury claim, as that can create complications and delays and may even prevent you from getting the compensation you may be eligible for.
How Can a Statute of Limitations Affect Your Personal Injury Case?
When considering your case, such as your injuries and the damages you may be eligible for, the statute of limitations will not likely cross your mind. For the most part, the statute of limitations is a rule of procedure only relevant when a personal injury lawsuit filing occurs.
However, as an injury victim, you do not know how your case will develop, and while you might expect to settle outside of court, issues may arise in your case that make filing a suit necessary. Failing to consider the statute of limitations can harm your case and prevent you from pursuing the compensation you need.
When a court comes across a lawsuit filing that occurs beyond the statute of limitations, it will likely throw out the victim’s case. The victim will no longer have any legal recourse to pursue compensation for their damages. Exceptions to a statute of limitations are rare and only apply in very limited circumstances in Florida.
Should You Wait to File a Claim for Damages After an Injury in Florida?
As an injury victim, you may realize that your injuries are serious. The extent of the impact of your injuries on your life and how long it will take to heal can still be up in the air for some time following a personal injury accident.
You may think it is better to wait to contact a lawyer for help with your case until you have a clearer picture of your recovery and subsequent damages. However, that can cause you more harm and restrict your rights to seek compensation in a Florida personal injury claim.
Under no circumstances should you consider waiting it out after sustaining an injury due to negligence in Florida. The sooner you contact a lawyer, the sooner you can protect your rights in the case.
Insurance Policy Terms Differ From Statute of Limitations
The emphasis on the statute of limitations may lead you to believe that is the only time limit you must consider when filing a personal injury claim in Florida. However, you must also consider the terms of a policy as an insured as you decide when to act on your injury claim.
Insurance policies have specified terms and timelines surrounding when they must receive notification of an accident and potential claim. Failing to abide by the terms of an insurance policy can jeopardize your ability to negotiate a settlement. Contact a lawyer as soon as possible can help you understand the requirements under the law and per the insurance company you may be filing a claim with.
The Benefits of Acting Quickly Following a Personal Injury
Florida’s statute of limitations can lead to complacency amongst injury victims and a false sense that there is more than enough time. The longer you wait to act following an injury case, the more advantages you are losing in your case, and you could create challenging obstacles down the line when you do decide to seek damages in your case.
You may need to focus on your health following a personal injury. At the same time, contact a personal injury attorney. When you start the process of a personal injury claim early, you give yourself all the possible benefits of acting sooner rather than later.
Give Your Lawyer as Much Time as Needed to Prepare
A lawyer does not prepare an injury claim instantly. It takes time to gather the evidence necessary to prove fault in your case and to prove your damages. The more time a lawyer has to focus on building your claim, the stronger your case.
When you contact a lawyer with little time left on a statute of limitations, they may be unable to prepare adequately. They may run into trouble getting access to the information they need. A weaker case can lead to a denial of your claim or a very low settlement offer.
By contacting a lawyer early in the process, you can give them ample time to work on your case, investigate and collect the evidence and information necessary to give you the best possible chance at reaching a desirable settlement.
Preserve Vulnerable Evidence
Evidence can make or break your accident case. When you do not act quickly, the evidence you need may not always be available. As time passes, tracking down evidence you may require to prove the fault for your injuries and resulting damages can be harder.
In some cases, evidence can expire. For example, traffic cam videos, security tapes, truck black box data, and other evidence may be at risk of deletion unless an attorney steps in and asks for the evidence in your case. When too much time passes, it can become more difficult for your lawyer to access the evidence they need to build your case.
Testimony and Recollection of Events Are Fresh
Just as preserving physical evidence is crucial to your case, the testimony of witnesses can also play a big part in the outcome of your personal injury case. Witness testimony, including your own testimony, can become more unreliable as time goes on.
It becomes harder to remember important details and information about the day of the accident and your injuries as time passes. Taking action quickly following an accident can help your lawyer interview witnesses and get their account soon after the incident while the facts of the case and their memories are still fresh.
You May Get Compensation Quicker
Another motivation for a victim to seek help from a personal injury lawyer soon after an accident is that it can ultimately help them get a resolution quicker. The sooner you contact a lawyer, the sooner they can begin to prepare your case and file a claim on your behalf, which can move things along following an injury and help you get a resolution sooner rather than later.
Filing claims long after the accident can result in longer times to prepare and process a claim for damages. If you contact a lawyer soon after your injuries, you may be able to get access to the money you need for your losses sooner.
When May It Be Acceptable to File a Later Personal Injury Claim?
Some circumstances in a case would not allow a personal injury victim to come forward sooner following an accident. These are rare situations, but if a victim falls under one of these categories, it is acceptable for a victim to file a claim later than usual.
Additionally, in these cases, a victim may qualify for an exception to the statute of limitations. However, that depends upon the specific facts of your case and factors as to why the case could not begin sooner.
If you are a victim of a personal injury that falls under one of the following scenarios, you may still be eligible for compensation. Speak with a personal injury attorney to discuss your rights and the law applicable to your case.
You Did Not Discover Your Injuries for Some Time
Injuries might not always appear when they happen. Sometimes, a victim of a personal injury may not realize they have sustained an injury until some time following the accident.
An example of a delay in discovering an injury could be when a person develops an illness or chronic condition that they later link to an exposure or incident that occurred in the past.
In some cases, a victim may not realize an accident or incident even occurred, such as in the case of medical malpractice. If you discover an injury or illness after an incident you believe occurred due to negligence, you must seek the advice of a personal injury lawyer immediately. You may still be able to seek compensation for damages arising from your illness or injury.
The Victim Is Underage
Personal injuries can happen at any age. When a victim suffers an injury as a child, in many cases, their statute of limitations extends until they reach adulthood at eighteen. It is still better to contact a personal injury lawyer when the injury occurs, as there are options to pursue compensation even as a child.
However, if you sustained an injury as a child due to negligence, you may pursue damages up through the age of majority if no legal action or claim occurred in the past. A personal injury attorney can review your case and determine whether you have a claim for injuries you sustained as a child.
Issues With Identifying the Liable Party
To file a claim for damages, you must find the person liable in many personal injury cases. If you sustained an injury but could not find the person at fault following an accident due to negligence, you may have a claim for damages if you discover the party liable later.
This can happen in cases such as a hit and run where it can take time to investigate who is responsible. If the person flees, it can cause a delay in identifying the party at fault and any insurance coverage that may have been available at the time of the accident.
When Is the Best Time to Call a Lawyer Following a Personal Injury Accident in Florida?
It would be best to not wait to decide what to do following an injury. The best time to contact a Florida personal injury attorney for an injury in Florida is as soon as possible. When you realize you have suffered injuries because of the actions of another party, immediately contact a personal injury lawyer in Florida for help with your case and to determine whether you have a valid claim for damages.
Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer at Dolman Law Group Today
When you're seriously injured, you take on a lot of additional responsibilities. A personal injury attorney eases your burden by handling your legal issues while you focus on your recovery. During the early days following your accident, lawyers do what's necessary to protect your legal rights. They determine who is legally liable, review evidence, and evaluate your injury. Attorneys deal with insurance companies, so you don't have to. When you're ready to settle your claim, your attorney can negotiate on your behalf.
When you consult an attorney, you don't have to make a commitment to move forward with your case right there and then. During your visit, you tell the lawyer your version of the events and discuss your potential legal options. When you schedule a meeting with a personal injury attorney, your initial consultation is usually free, so don't hesitate.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 N Belcher Rd
Clearwater, FL 33765