The Statute of Limitations for Filing a Car Accident Lawsuit in Florida

Being the victim of a car accident in Florida may entitle you to financial compensation. However, it is critical that you file your car accident lawsuit in a timely fashion. If you do not file your car accident lawsuit in time, you could be prohibited from bringing it at all, and you will not recover any of the damages you are entitled to.

The statute of limitations in Florida for most car accidents is two years. The statute of limitations is a timer that starts when a car accident happens and ends at a point in the future determined by law. Once that timer runs out, a legal remedy is no longer available to recover damages. It is important to quickly obtain legal counsel and file your car accident lawsuit so that the statute of limitations does not prevent you from recovering the damages you are owed.

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Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents in Florida

There is no statute of limitations explicitly for car accidents in Florida. However, this does not mean you have all the time in the world to file your lawsuit. Instead, the statute of limitations you must abide by is partly determined by who, or what, you allege is at fault for the accident in your lawsuit. The important thing to note, though, is that statutes of limitation put a timer on how long you have to file a car accident lawsuit. Our Miami car accident lawyers will ensure your lawsuit is filed promptly so that the statute of limitations does not run its course and block you from recovering damages.

Negligence-Based Car Accidents

Under Florida law, the statute of limitations for “an action founded on negligence” is two years. This is a hard cutoff. Two years plus one day is too late. Many car accidents are caused by somebody not doing what they are supposed to do. The legal term for that misconduct is “negligence.” In a legal context, negligence refers to a failure to behave with the same level of care that an ordinary, reasonable person would exercise, which subsequently causes an injury. This includes doing something careless or failing to do something a reasonable person would do, given the circumstances.

In the context of a car accident lawsuit, common negligence causes of action could include driving while texting, on the phone, or otherwise being distracted; forgetting to use a turn signal; or colliding with another vehicle or person when trying to beat a red light.

Car Accidents Resulting in Death

Regrettably, motor vehicle accidents often result in the death of one or more people involved. A wrongful death lawsuit can be filed when the family members of a deceased person sue, claiming that the defendant caused the death.

If you are filing a car accident wrongful death lawsuit in Florida, the statute of limitations is two years. This time period is shorter than it seems, so it is important that you consult with an attorney quickly.

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations

Sometimes car accidents generate circumstances that create exceptions which lengthen the statutory period you have to file a lawsuit. While these exceptions do not apply exclusively to car accident lawsuits, your individual circumstances could trigger one of these exceptions. Even if you believe an exception applies to you, it should still be your goal to file a lawsuit as soon as possible, since there is no way to recover damages after the statute of limitations has run. If you file a lawsuit after the statutory period, it will be thrown out.

Unknown Injury

There is a good chance you know whether you are badly injured or not right away in the aftermath of a car accident. However, some injuries take time to reveal themselves, even after taking all the medical precautions a responsible person would after a car accident. Note that this exception is usually applied in instances of medical malpractice, where the injury might not be apparent right away. For example, if you have a lingering injury that is later determined to be caused by a car accident, the statutory period starts to run from the time of discovery of the injury (or when you should have discovered it), not from the time of the accident. This exception applies on a case-by-case basis and is rare for car accidents, so it is advisable to contact a Boca Raton car accident attorney right away rather than risk your chance to recover damages.

Incapacity and Minors

People under the age of 18 cannot bring a lawsuit by themself. Minors are said to have “incapacity.” Incapacity also applies to people with conditions that make them unable to bring a lawsuit, such as being in a coma or having a mental disability. It is important to note in that case, though, that the condition must exist prior to the accident, not because of the accident. If you are in a car accident prior to turning 18, the statute of limitations will be put on hold until you reach the age of majority.

Out-of-State Defendant

Florida law “tolls,” or puts on hold, the statute of limitations when a defendant is out of the state. This is of particular importance in a car accident, the defendant might be merely traveling through the state and could be quite far away and difficult to serve with process.

Members of the Armed Forces

Lawsuits involving members of the United States Military, United States Reserve, or National Guard can sometimes go beyond the statute of limitations time limit. Filing a lawsuit requires that the person being sued be given notice that they are, in fact, being sued. It can be difficult to give this notice, called “service of process,” to service members who are deployed. Florida courts are allowed to put a stay on proceedings involving deployed servicemembers for up to thirty days. It is not guaranteed that a court will implement this hold on proceedings, they merely have the option to do so.

Why does the Statute of Limitations Exist

A statute of limitations is a law that limits how long a person has to file a lawsuit. If someone files a lawsuit for some wrongdoing after the time period has passed, that lawsuit will be thrown out.

There are several reasons why statutes of limitation exist. First, they benefit the court system by making sure that a lawsuit takes place closer in time to the events in question, keeping important facts fresh in the minds of those involved. Moreover, statutes of limitation let people move on with their lives without the specter of a potential lawsuit based on events very far in the past hanging over them.

Call Our Florida Car Accident Attorneys Now for a Free Case Review

Call the West Palm Beach car accident attorneys at The Law Offices of David I. Fuchs, Injury & Accident Lawyer, P.A. today at (954) 751-4258 for a free case analysis.

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