In Part 1 of Florida Has Specific Car Accident Laws Drivers Should Know we briefed our readers with valuable knowledge on “Pure Comparative Negligence” and Florida’s “No Fault” laws in determining the financial aspects of a motor vehicle accident. Whether the accident caused property damage (I.E. the vehicle or personal property such as a fence, mailbox, or part of a home was damaged in the collision) or serious bodily harm (physical injuries resulting in medical expenses and permanent injury), Florida’s laws are incomparable to any other state and can also be considered far more complex, as well.
In Parts 2 and 3 of our Florida Car Accident series of articles we’ll begin to explore the statute of limitations as well as the awarding of damages, and how the state of Florida differentiates the laws surrounding such a type of financial compensation from the laws put in placed in other states.
In our article Damages In Class Action Lawsuits – Part 1 we explained what “damages” are and the physical injuries that often qualify a victim to be awarded this type of compensation. To refresh before we further explain the importance of properly determining damages to be awarded–as well as the limits imposed on such compensation, damages are defined by law (in short) as:
“[…]the amount of money which a plaintiff (the person suing) may be awarded in a lawsuit.”
Knowing the limits
In the state of Florida, there are few limits imposed upon the awarding of damages and the amount of compensation available to victims who rightfully deserve it. This falls in the favor of those who have suffered catastrophic injuries. Aside from permanent injury and a lifetime of pain and suffering caused by the negligence of another, the medical expenses that befall a family when a loved one becomes injured can often cause strife that would’ve never occurred prior to the accident.
When an accident results in permanent injury (because anything less than a permanent injury is usually handled by the driver’s own insurance and cannot be included in litigation), there is strict time limits imposed upon victims in which they have to retain a lawyer and proceed to file a claim. This time limit, in Florida and nearly every other state, is known as the Statute of Limitations.
Florida’s specific laws mandate that a driver who sustained permanent injuries [known under the law as “Injury to Person” §95.11(3)(o)] as the result of a car accident has four years (Florida Statutes Title 8, Ch. 95, Sec 95.11) from the date of the accident to bring litigation. After that, no matter how satisfactory the claim may be to a judge, it will no longer be allowed to be heard in court as the Statute of Limitations has run its course.
The one thing (besides lack of credibility on the part of the victim) that can truly compromise a case is the Statute of Limitations being exceeded. At the point the allotted time is exceeded, there is no legal route to pursuing compensation or to have damages awarded, no matter how rightfully deserved.
The statute of limitations differs with each form of litigation (I.E. fraud, medical malpractice, wrongful death), and it’s important to discuss the specifics of the injuries sustained with a board certified lawyer to gain a better understanding of your specific claim and what you may be entitled to.
Discovery of wrongdoing
In every state, time limits are imposed for the filing of lawsuits. This standard, unlike most others, remains the same no matter what state the injured party resides in. When it comes to Florida’s statutes of limitations, unlike a large portion of Florida-specific laws, the state’s are fairly similar to those across the United States. Under normal circumstances, Florida statutes range from two years to four years. However, what allows for one case to be two years and one to receive four years depends on what’s known as discovery of wrongdoing.
Within the statute of limitations, “discovery of wrongdoing” is often seen in medical malpractice cases. This is mostly due to the longterm pain and suffering sustained by a patient over the course of months or several years. This pain, the victim may assume, is due to prior injury (for which they underwent surgery) or the “normal” side effect of a treatment they received (and they assume they may get better “with time”). The patient, not being of medical background, would not be expected to know that the pain they experience after surgery or a medical procedure, was due to the negligence of a doctor and not considered normal. Patients place trust in medical professionals to care for them correctly and therefore would not assume immediately upon waking from surgery that something was wrong, or that the doctor didn’t uphold their duty of care.
The time it takes to discover such injury has occurred due to the negligence of a doctor is often deemed acceptable by the court and the victim’s lawyer will be allowed to pursue legal recourse on behalf of their client with the proper medical documentation. This documentation would have to show the judge that the harm to the victim was discovered in a reasonable amount of time, given the victim’s specific circumstances (all of which differ from case to case).
Up next: the deal on damages
Next in our Florida Car Accident series, we’ll fully explore the limits placed upon damages in the state of Florida (there are a couple, though not many). We’ll provide a more in-depth exploration of what constitutes a victim being awarded high dollar amounts of damages, and what necessary steps an experienced lawyer takes to sure up the maximum amount of compensation deserved by their client. All of this, and more insight in Florida car accident law, will be provided in Part 3!