In 2020, there were 403,626 motor vehicle crashes in Florida. Of those crashes, 255,353 people were injured and 3,135 died. For accident victims, Florida imposes time limits, also known as statutes of limitations, on filing lawsuits against the at-fault party.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a motor vehicle accident, contact Grossman Attorneys at Law. Our team of personal injury lawyers will help you understand the statute of limitations for a car accident in Florida and how it impacts your right to compensation.
What Is Florida’s Statute of Limitations for Auto Accidents?
To protect your right to recover from an accident, you should be familiar with Florida’s statute of limitations.
A statute of limitations is simply a deadline to file a lawsuit. Each state creates its own timelines, and they vary based on the claim, damages, and applicable exceptions. The statute of limitations for a car accident in Florida depends on the type of claim being filed and whether the incident resulted in injury or death.
Personal Injury Lawsuits
Typically, when someone is injured in an auto crash or truck accident, they will file a personal injury claim alleging that the at-fault party was negligent. Under Florida law, you must bring this type of claim within four years from the date of the accident.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits
If the victim dies as a result of the accident, the family may bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the alleged at-fault driver. Florida’s statute of limitations requires that you file a wrongful death lawsuit within two years of the victim’s death. This may be later than the date of the accident.
Products Liability Lawsuits
When an accident occurs due to a defective vehicle or auto part, the victim may file a products liability lawsuit against the manufacturer. If the victim suffered injuries from the accident, the statute of limitations is four years from the date of the incident. If the victim died from the accident, the family has two years from the victim’s date of death.
Breach of Contract
Florida is a no-fault insurance state. This means that many car accident victims must file a claim with their insurance company to receive compensation as opposed to suing the alleged at-fault party. A victim can only sue the other party from the outset if he or she has suffered serious injury that resulted in permanent disability or disfigurement.
If your insurance company fails to award you the compensation you deserve, you can sue your insurer for breach of contract seeking enforcement of the insurance policy. Florida’s statute of limitations for this type of claim is five years from the date of the underlying incident.
The time spent filing your initial claim with the insurance company does not stop the statute of limitations “clock.”
What Happens If I Miss the Statute of Limitations?
If you do not file your claim by the deadline, the court will not hear your case. There are exceptions where the statute of limitations is extended, but these are limited and fact-specific situations.
Failing to file on time will cost you your right to recover compensation and get the justice you deserve.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
Like many legal rules, there are exceptions to Florida’s statute of limitations for car accidents. Often known as “tolling” the statute of limitations, there are several ways to extend the deadline for filing a lawsuit.
Delayed Discovery of Injuries
Sometimes injuries are not apparent immediately after an accident. In this event, the statute of limitations “clock” does not begin until the injuries are discovered or should have been discovered.
For example, if you experience memory loss one week after an auto accident, the clock starts at the time your memory loss began occurring, not the date of the accident.
When filing a civil lawsuit, the defendant must be served the papers in person. If the defendant leaves the state, goes into hiding, or otherwise makes him or herself unavailable, the statute of limitations clock will stop running. Once the defendant is located and served, the clock continues.
To avoid service of process, the defendant may assume a false identity. In this event, the deadline to file your lawsuit is extended until the defendant is found.
If the victim suffers such catastrophic injuries that he or she cannot immediately file a lawsuit, Florida permits a seven-year extension to take legal action.
When the victim is a minor (under 18 years of age) at the time of the accident, the lawsuit must be filed within seven years of the accident.
There are other instances where the statute of limitations may toll. To understand the exact deadline as it applies to your case, contact the personal injury attorneys at Grossman Attorneys at Law.
Are There Benefits to Filing Sooner Rather Than Later?
You want to contact an attorney to assist you with filing your claim as soon after the accident as possible. This gives everyone ample time to collect information and properly file your auto accident claim within the statute of limitations.
Some claims may be more detailed than others and will require additional research and fact-finding. You want to give yourself and your legal team enough time to build the strongest case possible.
Can a Lawyer Help Me File on Time?
A competent and experienced personal injury lawyer will help you file your claim on time, preserving your right to seek justice and recover compensation.
At Grossman Attorneys at Law, we dedicate our entire practice to injury law. Our team of personal injury lawyers is here to handle the legal processes while you focus on your recovery.
To discuss your case, call us at 866-660-1071. You can also submit a contact form, and one of our attorneys will reach out to you. We are available whenever you need us, including nights and weekends. Your initial consultation is free, and we will not charge attorney fees or costs until we recover compensation for you.