If you've been involved in a motor vehicle accident and have sustained injuries, you'll likely be very confused afterwards. The trauma and shock of being in a serious crash can take some time to get over, not too mention dealing with the pain from your injuries, doctors appointments and treatments, and dealing with insurance companies – both yours, and that of the other people involved in the accident.
In Florida, there are differing time limits, called statutes of limitations, that dictate how much time can pass before you no longer have the legal right to file a personal injury lawsuit. Most cases fall within a 4-year statute of limitations starting from the day of the collision. You will not be allowed to sue the at-fault party if you do it even 1 day past that time.
There are some exceptions to the 4-year statute, however. If the crash you were involved in resulted in a fatality, then your lawsuit becomes what is called a wrongful death lawsuit. In those cases, you have a 2-year statute of limitations within which to file a lawsuit against the at-fault parties.
Also, if the person that hit you has no insurance, you could be dealing with an uninsured motorist claim. This falls under the breach of contract law, and therefor you will have a 5-year statute of limitations.
Still another exception comes into play if you are struck by a government employee. Let's say you're hit by a postal carrier vehicle, or maybe a city employee out doing zoning code enforcement. If the person who hit you is an employee of a governmental entity, the statute of limitations than becomes a total of 3.5 years. This represents a 4-year statute, plus the requirement to a wait an additional 6-months for an investigation to take place, assuming the governmental entity has not denied any responsibility for the crash. So with the 180-day notice requirement, 3.5 years is the length of time.
Other Important Time Restrictions You Need to Know
After being hurt in some type of car, motorcycle or pedestrian accident, the FIRST thing you need to do is have a medical provider diagnose your injuries. Florida is called a no-fault state, which means you should file a claim immediately with your own auto insurance provider under your PIP, or Personal Injury Protection, coverage. PIP coverage enables you to receive up to $10,000 to pay for your injuries and medical care and treatments. BUT, PIP coverage is only in effect IF YOU ARE SEEN BY A MEDICAL PROVIDER WITHIN 14 DAYS FROM THE DATE OF THE CRASH. Florida Statute 627.736 states that a person hurt in a car accident MUST seek medical care with that two-week time period to utilize the $10,000 in PIP insurance coverage.
Following a serious accident, you may be recuperating at home, or even in the hospital, for an extended period. A lot of people think that since they have 4 years to file some type of liability or personal injury lawsuit, there's no big rush to do anything too soon.
But the urgency with which you begin to take steps to have a personal injury attorney at Goldberg Noone Abraham, investigate the circumstances of your crash is critical. The longer you wait, the more likelihood that important evidence may be lost or un-preserved. If there were any witnesses to the accident, their recollections may become less clear the longer you wait after a crash. Or, a witness that told you ‘they saw everything' and will speak to anyone to support your recollection of events may have moved out of the local area. Defendants can also die, move out of the area or begin to suffer from things like dementia after the crash, reducing your chances of making a successful financial recovery to pay for your injuries and future care.
One Free Phone Call is All It Takes
You will most likely be unsure if you even need a personal injury law firm if you've been hurt in a crash. Not every accident results in a lawsuit, and you're going to have a lot of questions about what you should do next. All it takes is one phone call to one of our motor vehicle accident attorneys to find out. Don't put it off, wondering and stressing about who is going to pay for your medical bills.
Call our main office at 239-461-5508 to get the answers you need right away. Or if you prefer, you can complete this contact form and we'll reach out to you immediately to talk about your situation, at absolutely no cost to you.
When you retain our law firm after a crash, your problems instantly become our problems. Yes, you'll need to contact us as soon as possible, and seek medical attention within 14 days from the crash. But after your call to us, you can rest assured we are handling every detail of your case, and you can focus on getting better and putting your life back together.