How Long After A Car Accident Can I Sue In Fort Lauderdale?

According to Florida Statute §95.11(3)(a), anyone who has been injured in an accident has four years from the date of the accident to file their lawsuit. This applies to all types of crash victims including drivers, passengers, and pedestrians.

If you have lost a loved one in a car accident, you have the option of filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent driver. Under Florida Statute §95.11(4)(d), you must file a wrongful death claim within two years of the date of the accident victim’s death.

What happens if I fail to file suit before the statute of limitations expires? Are there any exceptions?

When an accident occurs, the statute of limitations starts running on the day of the accident. Failure to file suit in a timely fashion will typically bar you from recovering damages. However, there are certain situations in which an extension of the statute of limitations is warranted.

Per Florida Statute § 95.051, the statute of limitations for a personal injury case may toll for multiple reasons including the following:

  • The accident victim was a minor at the time of the accident.
  • The defendant was within bankruptcy proceedings.
  • The accident victim was not mentally competent at the time of the accident.

The statute of limitations may toll temporarily, but it will start up again when the reason for the tolling is eliminated (e.g., the minor becomes an adult).

Why do I have to file so soon if Florida law gives me four years?

While four years might seem like a long time, there are a lot of benefits to filing your claim as soon as possible.

Establish Your Injuries Are Related to the Accident

Some insurance companies may use any delay in filing a claim as suggestive that your injuries are not severe or unrelated to the accident. After your accident, make sure you get medical treatment right away and talk to a lawyer at our firm about filing a claim as soon as possible. This can help establish a connection between your injuries and the accident that caused them.

The Claims Process Can Be Long

It is important to note you do not start off an injury case by suing the at-fault party. Because Florida is a no-fault state, you first turn to your own insurer to cover your injuries and lost wages through your personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. Only if you exceed your PIP limit and are able to prove you have a serious injury under the law will you be able to sue the other driver. Navigating these insurance procedures adds even more time. 

The insurer may then deny your claim or offer you a settlement. This settlement is often much lower than claimants deserve. We can negotiate a settlement for you, but some insurers still fail to offer a reasonable settlement amount. At this point, we may pursue a lawsuit.

So while Florida’s statute of limitations gives accident victims several years to file their personal injury lawsuits, the longer you wait to file your claim, the longer you may delay getting compensation.

File Soon to Preserve Evidence

If you file your case within a reasonable amount of time after the accident, your attorney can conduct a thorough investigation while the evidence is still fresh. If you wait too long, contacting witnesses can be more difficult. Talking to witnesses soon after the accident may also make their testimony more credible in court.

Further, waiting too long could prevent you from securing evidence like damaged vehicles, photographs of the scene, surveillance video, and more.

Where can I get help filing my Fort Lauderdale car accident claim?

If you do not file your claim within the appropriate timeframe, you will lose your right to recover compensation altogether. And if you wait too long, it could have detrimental effects on your case, even if you are within the statute of limitations.

If you have been involved in an accident call the car accident attorneys in Fort Lauderdale at Farmer, Jaffe, Weissing, Edwards, Fistos & Lehrman, P.L. as soon as possible. We will help gather the evidence necessary to establish liability in your car accident claim: 954-524-2820.