If you have been injured in an accident that someone else caused in Florida, then you may have a right to seek compensation from either the at-fault party directly or, more likely, from their liability insurance company. Whether you were in a car, truck, motorcycle accident, pedestrian, cycling collision, premises liability accident, from a medical malpractice issue, or one of the many other possible instances where someone’s negligence, recklessness, or malice caused you harm, there is a likelihood that you will file an injury claim against them and their insurance company to recover compensation for losses known as “damages.” 

Often, a victim immediately takes action by contacting the policyholder’s insurance company that caused the accident and is liable for the injuries. Others, however, recognize that the state of Florida has a period of time before they are no longer able to take legal action, called the Statute of Limitations.  Once the statute of limitations has passed, it  bars anyone from filing a lawsuit due to a certain period of time transpiring after the accident. 

Understanding the statute of limitations beyond a simple cutoff date is important for a personal injury victim to know when and why to take action after their accident. The team at Bernheim Kelley Battista & Bliss can help you understand your situation better after you contact us for an initial consultation. 

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

For starters, it can be helpful to clearly understand what a statute of limitations is and why it matters in your situation. Simply put, a statute of limitations is a state-specific (and situation-specific) law that sets the maximum allowable length of time for a party to take legal action after an alleged offense. These limitations are in place because after long enough, evidence and clear information become more and more obscured, leading to a case that does not have all of the information required to establish the details and seek fair justice for all involved.


Florida’s Statute of Limitations for Personal Injuries

In Florida, the statute of limitations for most personal injuries is four years from the date of the incident or the date that the victim first identified their injuries. Suppose these two dates are not the same (the date of the accident and the date of recognizing the injuries). In that case, it is up to the victim and their personal injury attorney to sufficiently explain the gap between the incident and first recognizing the injuries. It is essential that you contact an attorney immediately after realizing that you are injured, whether or not there is any difference in dates.  However, different statute of limitations apply to different circumstances so you cannot have a definitive answer to what statute of limitation applies to your case unless you consult with an attorney and review your specific matter.

Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Have a Two Year Statute of Limitations in Florida

According to the Florida Statutes Title VIII 95.7b, “An action for medical malpractice shall be commenced within 2 years from the time the incident giving rise to the action occurred or within 2 years from the time the incident is discovered, or should have been discovered with the exercise of due diligence; however, in no event shall the action be commenced later than 4 years from the date of the incident or occurrence out of which the cause of action accrued, except that this 4-year period shall not bar an action brought on behalf of a minor on or before the child’s eighth birthday.” 

Keep in mind that many injuries stemming from medical malpractice may not be immediately apparent, including things like surgical errors or misdiagnoses. So as soon as you begin to suspect that there is an issue you will want to partner with an attorney — while, of course, seeking the necessary medical attention to recover from this dangerous error.

The Importance of Acting As Soon As Possible After a Personal Injury

The following are just a few of the many reasons to work with an attorney as soon as possible after a personal injury. One of the most important reasons to contact an attorney right away has nothing to do with the statute of limitations, though, and has everything to do with ensuring your case is being investigated and documented properly as well as to avoid the stress that can come with the time period immediately following an injury.  As soon as you hire a lawyer, you can stay focused on your recovery without the added stress of your legal issues. Many people suffer from intense anxiety as they speculate about their future, particularly their finances, as they worry about their lost wages and how they will be able to pay for their mounting medical bills. 

The team at Bernheim Kelley Battista & Bliss will fight to get you the money you deserve while helping you understand what the future may hold. Contact us now to discuss the specifics of your accident so we can work together to develop a plan and start fighting for the compensation you are rightfully entitled to today.

Ample Time To Gather Evidence

Regardless of whether you have two or four years for the statute of limitations on your case, this time is best spent working with an attorney. During this time, your lawyer will be able to focus on calculating the many damages you have suffered due to your accident and injuries. The more time your lawyer has to do so, the more comprehensive their case will be when working with either the at-fault party’s insurer or their defense attorneys. When your lawyer needs to rush because of an approaching statute deadline, there are many details that they may miss. 

Don’t Give The Defense or Insurer Time To Build an Argument Against Your Best Interests

Once you initiate an insurance claim, the insurance adjuster assigned to your case will go through an investigation that is ostensibly centered on finding all of the damages you’ve suffered. But they are focused on finding the best way to settle your claim as quickly and cheaply as possible. As a result, each time you speak directly with the adjuster, they will be looking for ways to use your words against you, attempting to twist innocent statements into leverage that reduces their liability. When your lawyer is the one to initiate the claim and handle all communications, they will be able to limit these opportunities while staying informed about every step of the process.

Time To Work Towards a Settlement Agreement

In addition to the issue of taking time to gather evidence, your attorney will use this time to attempt an out-of-court settlement (in many cases — there are specific times when a personal injury attorney may decide that it is best to go right to the courts). Direct settlements can save you time and stress caused by trying to work within the Florida court system and allows you to retain some control over the outcome. When you are pleading your civil case in front of a judge and/or jury, the final decision is left to an uninvolved third party. 

Keep Your Lawyer Informed From the Start

When you wait to hire an attorney until you are racing the clock against the statute of limitations, there will inevitably be a body of evidence and information that your attorney never has access to. This is because of how quickly your memory fades, how many communications you will likely have between the at-fault party’s representation and many other factors. Each new additional piece of information or documentation that arises is another opportunity for this information to be lost before it makes it to your lawyer. That is unless your personal injury attorney is the one that is handling each of these interactions and is filing it all as they build your case.

Don’t Wait: Contact Bernheim Kelley Battista & Bliss To Take a Proactive Approach To Your Personal Injury

If there is one key takeaway from this blog post, let it be this: no matter how much time you think you have, the best time to contact a personal injury lawyer in Fort Lauderdale was yesterday, and the next best time is now. As soon as we can take over the administrative aspects of your personal injury case, we will be able to take each step with the intent of getting you the money you deserve by gathering as much evidence as possible and going through aggressive negotiations with the insurance company with the hopes of reaching an out-of-court settlement. 

When someone contacts our law firm with weeks remaining before their statute of limitations expires, we are left with few options. One option may be to rush to a settlement with the hopes that we are able to account for all damages, and the other is to simply file a lawsuit and then build a case as we wait for our first court date. Unfortunately, neither of these options is ideal when our ultimate goal is to bring you, our client, through a simple yet effective process to get you the money you deserve.