What’s the timeframe after a car accident in Florida?

Car accidents happen way more often than they should.

People who are injured due to someone else’s reckless driving or negligence can be awarded monetary compensation in Florida. While those injured are entitled to file a personal injury claim against those who caused their injury, there is a filing deadline. This is because Florida has a statute of limitations that restricts the timeframe within which the injured parties can file a claim.

Don’t wait to learn about your rights to compensation. It’s important to know how Florida auto accident laws and the statute of limitations applies to your case.

Florida statute of limitations

What is a statute of limitations?

Each state has a limited time frame within which plaintiffs are allowed to file their lawsuit. The laws that determine this time period are called the “statute of limitations,” and they vary by state and situation.

The “clock” typically starts when the accident occurs. After time runs out, a plaintiff cannot legally sue.

There are some exceptions though.

For instance, the statutes of limitations can begin to run from the date the injury was discovered, if that happens at a later point.

It’s important to know the time frame in which you can take legal action, as failing to do so on time—even by a day—may result in your claim being barred.

Florida statute of limitations on car accident lawsuits

Florida has several statutes of limitation for different types of car crash cases:

  • Personal injury lawsuits. Under Florida’s statute of limitations for personal injury cases, plaintiffs must file their lawsuit in civil court within 4 years of the accident. Failing to meet this deadline will result in the court refusing to hear your case unless you’re able to successfully argue that there are extraordinary circumstances that warrant an exception.
  • Wrongful death lawsuits. If someone suffered an injury in a car accident and passed away from their injuries, their loved ones may file a wrongful death lawsuit. Florida’s statute of limitations requires family members of the deceased to file their wrongful death lawsuits within 2 years of the death of their loved one.
  • Product liability lawsuits. Sometimes car accidents are caused by defective vehicles or auto parts, like faulty brake pads or tires. In these circumstances, personal injury lawyers may seek compensation from the manufacturer. When a defect results in injury, the statute of limitations is 4 years. However, in the event a defective vehicle or auto part results in death, the statute of limitations for wrongful death is 2 years.

Exceptions to Florida’s statutes of limitation

Florida’s statute of limitations clearly outlines the deadlines for taking legal action in a car accident situation, but there are exceptions to these timelines. And that’s where a knowledgeable attorney can help.

  • Availability of the defendant. Since filing a civil suit requires serving the papers in person, if the defendant has left the state, has gone into hiding, or is otherwise unavailable, the clock will stop.
  • False representation. If the defendant assumes a false identity to avoid the suit, the timeline will be extended until he or she is found.
  • Catastrophic injuries. If the injured party is in such a horrible state (such as a coma) that they can’t file charges right away, Florida allows for a 7-year period to take legal action.
  • Delayed discovery. The statute of limitations may be delayed if the injured party doesn’t realize their injuries until a later date. While not common in car accidents, it is possible.

Contact an accident lawyer right away

If you’re hurt in a car accident in Florida, it’s in your best interest to get your claim started as soon as possible. The more time your attorney has to prepare your case, the better your odds of securing the best possible outcome.

If you wait and the statute of limitations expires, you will lose your right to file a lawsuit.