Taking on the legal system after a car accident can make you feel exhausted and overwhelmed. Many wonder, How long after a car accident can you sue in Florida?
Florida limits injury lawsuits to within four years after a car accident. If your loved one died in an accident, however, the law restricts suits to within two years of the death. Sometimes the at-fault driver is unknown because they left the scene. You have five years from the accident to sue your insurance company to recover under an uninsured motorist policy.
If you’re considering suing after an accident, you should contact an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will need time to investigate the accident and build a strong case before they can file a lawsuit.
When you call Grossman Attorneys at Law, we will listen to your situation and begin documenting your physical injuries, lost wages, and pain and suffering right away.
Our Boca Raton injury law firm has experience taking car accident cases to trial and getting results in front of a jury. If you’re ready to let Grossman Attorneys handle your recovery, contact us through our website or at 855-940-4548.
Suing Another Driver for Injuries: How Long Do You Have to Sue Someone After a Car Accident?
Florida is a “no-fault” state for auto accident recovery. Every driver in Florida must have personal injury protection (PIP) insurance with a minimum of $10,000 in coverage. You must file a claim with your own insurance company before you can sue another driver.
Your PIP will cover 80% of medical bills, 60% of lost wages, and a small ($5,000) death benefit. You cannot recover damages for pain and suffering (a non-economic loss) under PIP. Instead, the best option is to sue the other driver for compensation if possible.
In addition to limiting recovery to your own insurance first, Florida limits the cases where you can sue another driver. The law exempts drivers from claims for non-economic damages unless the accident resulted in:
- Significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function;
- Permanent injury (within a reasonable degree of medical probability);
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement; or
If your case meets this “verbal threshold” that allows the courts to hear your lawsuit, you must then be able to prove the other driver was driving negligently to win.
What Is Negligence?
Every driver must adhere to a standard of care when they get behind the wheel. If they act outside that standard of care and cause an accident, they are said to have been negligent. Common negligent acts that cause car accidents include:
- Exceeding the posted speed limit;
- Failing to stop at a stop sign;
- Texting and driving;
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs; and
- Driving aggressively.
Besides having proof that the other driver acted negligently, you must be able to show the extent of your injuries. To increase your chances for recovery, you should follow your doctor’s orders, adhere to medical treatment, and attend all appointments.
Having proof that your injury is significant and requires ongoing treatment can go a long way toward proving your argument, especially if there’s any doubt about the extent of your injuries. Remember, you have four years to file a lawsuit against another driver for injuries after an accident.
Suing for Wrongful Death: How Long After an Accident Can You Sue?
When a driver causes an accident that results in the death of another person, the person’s family members have a right to collect damages.
The personal representative, the person managing the deceased person’s estate, will collect the names of all survivors and file a lawsuit on their behalf. Under Florida law, survivors include the deceased person’s spouse, children, parents, and other dependent relatives.
To win a wrongful death suit, the personal representative must prove that the driver acted negligently when they caused the accident. The rules for negligence are the same as for a personal injury suit if the person had survived (see above).
If more than one person is at fault for an accident, the personal representative can sue any of them for the full amount of recovery. Florida has a two-year statute of limitations for wrongful death suits. You should contact an attorney right away if you think you might want to sue for wrongful death.
Suing Your Insurance Company: How Long After a Car Accident Can You Sue?
In some car accidents, the driver is uninsured or leaves the scene, so you don’t know who to sue. In that case, you can file a claim with your insurance company if you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage (UM/UIM).
An estimated 60% of Florida drivers had UM coverage in 2015, although it’s not a required coverage. If you have UM and your insurance company denies your claim, you can file a lawsuit for breach of contract to dispute the denial. Florida has a five-year statute of limitations for contract disputes.
Additionally, the law allows you to sue your insurance company if it acts in bad faith. Bad faith includes not settling your claim when the claim is reasonably clear. Before you can sue for bad faith, however, you must provide a notice of insurer violation to the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation.
You will likely need a lawyer to help you draft this notice because it must meet specific legal requirements. Fortunately, our attorneys are experienced in dealing with large insurance companies. Call us, and we can help determine if a suit against your insurance company is an option for you.
How Long After a Car Accident Can You Sue in Florida? Grossman Attorneys at Law Can Help
We understand that Florida’s insurance laws and limits on lawsuits can be confusing. Wrongful death cases have the shortest time frame and must be filed within two years of death.
Personal injury claims against another driver must be made within four years of the accident. If your insurance company denies your UM claim, you have five years from the date of the denial to sue.
Let Grossman Attorneys handle the legal system, while you focus on recovery. When you call us, we will investigate your case and identify the liable party. We will collect evidence to support your case and determine a value for all of your damages.
We will communicate with the insurance company and take your case to trial if needed. Our attorneys have a record of winning for our clients in front of a jury. We’re available when you’re available. Call us today.