How Long do I have to File a Personal Injury Claim after an Accident?
When you sustain serious injuries in a car crash or another type of accident, your focus will largely be on your medical treatment and physical recovery. However, as your expenses and medical bills pile up, you will increasingly wonder about your legal rights to compensation. There is a time limit for taking legal action in Florida, so you should never wait to consult with a Brandon personal injury lawyer about your options to get your medical bills and other losses covered.
Florida Statute of Limitations
Each state makes its own laws regarding the specific time limits you have to file different types of legal actions. In Florida, the general time limit for a personal injury lawsuit is four years from the date of the accident and injury. If you file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has expired, the defendant can ask the court to dismiss your claim, and the court will almost certainly do so. After four years, you lose your right to seek compensation, no matter how extensive your injuries and losses may be.
There are some exceptions to the four-year deadline, though many are rare. The statute of limitations may be paused or extended in the following circumstances, among some others:
- You did not discover your accident-related injury for some time (but can still prove the injury resulted from the accident)
- You were legally incapacitated after the accident and could not file a legal claim (this may extend the time limit to seven years at most)
- The person responsible for your injuries hid or changed their name or identity to prevent service of process, which is required for a lawsuit.
Never Wait to Speak with an Attorney
Accident cases in Florida generally begin with an insurance claim with your own PIP insurance and/or against the liable party’s insurance company. While many cases are resolved during the insurance claims process, some require injury victims to escalate the matter to a personal injury lawsuit to obtain the full compensation they deserve.
Even though four years may seem like a long time, it can pass before you know it. First, you may not call an attorney right away because you are dealing with your injuries. Then, it takes time to investigate a claim, identify liable parties, and prepare the insurance claim with its supporting evidence. The insurance negotiations can then go back and forth for some time, especially if you are still receiving treatment or have particularly severe injuries.
Lawsuits also can take a considerable amount of time to prepare. Once the four-year deadline approaches, you lose leverage in negotiations, and it may cause your lawsuit to be rushed. It is always better to leave plenty of time for your legal case and call a lawyer as soon as you can following an injury.
Contact Our Brandon Personal Injury Lawyers for a Free Consultation Today
After an accidental injury, the personal injury attorneys at Carman, Bevington & Finegan in Brandon, Florida, can assist you. Call 813-654-3444 or contact us online to set up a free case evaluation.