How Long Do I Have To File a Car Accident Claim in Miami, FL?
October 3, 2022 | Sagi Shaked | Car Accidents
There is a difference between a claim and a lawsuit. In a claim, you demand compensation from the defendant or an insurance company. Although there is no formal deadline for filing a claim, there is a deadline for filing a lawsuit. For this reason, you must file your claim before the deadline to file a lawsuit.
The Statute of Limitations Deadline
The Florida personal injury statute of limitations determines how long you have to file a lawsuit. In Florida, you usually have four years to file a personal injury lawsuit after a car accident (or a truck accident, for example). If you are filing a wrongful death claim on behalf of a loved one who died in an accident, you have two years from the date of your loved one’s death.
Certain limited extensions apply to narrow classes of people, such as minors under 18.
Resolving Your Claim Out of Court
Filing your claim is one issue; resolving it is another. It typically takes much longer to resolve a claim than to assert it. Following is a list of some common steps involved in settling a Florida personal injury claim.
Investigating the Claim
Your lawyer will need time to interview witnesses, visit the scene of the accident, and gain a general understanding of your case. You might even need an expert witness to testify on your behalf, and preparing expert witness testimony takes time.
Identifying the Appropriate Defendant
Florida is one of the few states that does not require its drivers to carry auto accident liability insurance. If the at-fault driver carries no liability insurance and you carry no uninsured motorist insurance, you might need to hold a second defendant liable to obtain any compensation. Depending on the circumstances, a second defendant might be:
- The at-fault driver’s employer;
- A nightclub that sold alcohol to the at-fault driver before a DUI accident that injured you;
- The manufacturer of a defective auto part or traffic light (if it contributed to your accident); or
- The city or state government for a malfunctioning traffic light (if it contributed to your accident).
There are many other possible defendants, depending on the specific circumstances of your case. Identifying these defendants could take time.
Your lawyer will need time to gather evidence such as:
- The accident report;
- Your medical records;
- Evidence from the scene of the accident (photographs or perhaps even a CCTV filming of the accident);
- Proof of your lost wages; and
- Eyewitness testimony.
Your lawyer might also need to gather many other types of evidence, such as the contents of a truck’s event data recorder.
Calculating Your Damages
Usually, you need to wait until you reach Maximum Medical Improvement (MMI) to calculate your medical expenses so you can demand a certain amount of compensation. Depending on the severity of your injuries, it could take a while to reach MMI.
Liability is easy to prove if, for example, the defendant was arrested for DUI immediately after the accident. In many cases, however, it takes time and effort to prove the defendant’s liability. This is especially likely to be the case in medical malpractice or product liability claims.
Negotiations can drag on for weeks or months, especially when dealing with a stubborn defendant or insurance adjuster. Hiring a skilled lawyer is the best way to expedite the negotiation phase of your claim.
Speak With an Attorney If You Think You Might Have a Significant Claim
You don’t need any money to hire a personal injury attorney. Your lawyer’s fees come from whatever the defendant pays you after you settle your claim or win a lawsuit. Personal injury lawyers even offer free initial consultations.
This state of affairs leaves you with nothing to lose by consulting a lawyer to see if you have a viable claim. You need to act quickly, however, because the longer you wait to pursue your claim, the weaker it is likely to become.