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How Long After An Accident Do You Have To File A Lawsuit?

If you've been injured as the victim of a car accident, you may be eligible to receive compensation. However, your eligibility does not last forever. A statute of limitations exists that determines how long after an accident you can file a lawsuit.

What Are Statutes Of Limitations?

Statutes of limitations specify the maximum period of limitation for initiating legal action. Statutes of limitations can vary from state to state and by crime. If the statute of limitations expires in a criminal case, there’s a good chance that the claim will no longer be able to be filed. If it is filed, it can be struck down by the defense because it was filed after the statutory limitations period.

If you’re involved in an auto accident, you’ll likely be dealing with a civil case. Any criminal charges will be brought about by the police department handling your case. Filing a civil case is the way to go about collecting the damages you’re owed. Civil cases commonly refer to statutes of limitations as “periods of prescription.” The periods of prescription are determined by the cause of action in the case. Civil cases tend to be a bit more lenient with the statute of limitations and will either reduce or extend them to ensure a fair trial with the goal of reaching a resolution within a reasonable length of time.

Personal Injury Cases

If you’re filing a personal injury case, the statute of limitations is four years. This is defined by Florida law. Time starts from the date of your accident, and “ends” when you file the lawsuit. Meaning, even if the lawsuit takes months or years to resolve and continues outside of the statute of limitations, you’re ok as long as you filed the claim within the statutory time period.

If your injuries have not healed following an accident, or you have suffered emotional damage, it’s recommended that you contact a Florida personal injury attorney who can help review your case and file a civil suit before the statute of limitations expire.

There are rare instances where the statute of limitations in civil cases are extended. If you don’t immediately discover that you’ve been injured, and then later discover that you suffered as a result of the accident, you may be granted an extension so that you can still file your case.

Personal Injury Protection Provisions

As a no-fault state, there are some additional deadlines that need to be considered if you’re in an auto accident. Florida No-Fault Insurance comes with the “14-day rule,” which only went into effect a few years ago. It was instituted as a way to cut down on fraudulent claims. Fraud has been a big problem, costing over $600 million.

The 14-day rule states that after being involved in an automobile accident, you have 14 days to seek treatment from a hospital facility, medical doctor, emergency transport, chiropractor, doctor of osteopathy, or dentist. The belief is that if you are really injured, you will seek medical attention immediately.

If you do not seek treatment within this 14-day timeframe, you will be ineligible to receive personal injury protection coverage. That’s not to say that you don’t have a civil case for personal injury, but you will have forfeited your rights to your personal injury protection coverage of $10,000.