If you think you suffer because of someone else’s negligence or inactions, you are entitled to some form of compensation if you file a claim. Personal injury cases are a very popular one, and they range from slip and falls, to car accidents, to the consumption of goods that may have affected the body in the wrong way. The most important thing is that the plaintiff can prove that indeed the pain or accident or fall was as a result of the other person’s fault. For example, in an accident involving two cars, the plaintiff would have to prove that the other driver was not paying attention to the road, either as a result of being on a phone call, or he/she was going above the speed limit, or any other recognizable reason. Now, under the law, you are entitled to some form of compensation, especially one that takes care of medical bills, or lost wages, or to cover discomfort. Whichever the case, the other party owes you something substantial, that is why it is important to involve a Florida personal injury lawyer as early as possible.
However, as good as it sounds, you may just forfeit the compensation or the possibility of even getting your claim entertained as a whole if you file your case too late. This is because of the existence of a statute of limitations.
What is a statute of limitations?
Statute of limitations refers to the limit placed by the law on how long you can wait before you file a claim against an offender in a particular case. As long as you file the claim within the set limit, then the matter would be entertained in the court, and necessary punitive actions and compensations still stand, otherwise, you do not gain anything. Every case has its set statute of limitations, and the ones concerning cases of negligence, that is personal injury cases, have a limit of four years, according to section 95:11 of the Florida Statutes.
The reason for this limitation is so that the matter is still fresh, and evidence can easily be gotten to help the case. It is important to note that the limitation starts running from the very moment of the accident or fall. Failure to properly file a claim can make one lose out on bringing the defendant to justice or enjoying necessary compensation.
Not all personal injury claims, however, have the four years limit. For example, if the negligence or accident resulted in the wrongful death of someone, then the plaintiff has just two years to bring up the matter before a competent court. Cases like libel or issues resulting from medical malpractice also have a two-year window during which the victim can initiate a personal injury claim. If you are bringing a case involving the government, then you just have a three-year limit. So it is necessary to employ the services of a personal injury lawyer as he or she would carefully study your situation and provide you with advice on how soon you can file your claim, and the proper way to go about it.
If you try to file a claim after the four-year limit, if it is a standard negligence case, it is most likely the case will not be heard in court due to the exceeded statute of limitation. Still, if it does get the opportunity, the defendant would readily pick the fact that the claim is coming too late as their line of defense, and the matter would most likely be struck out. However, there are exceptions to this.
- For example, if the defendant took the chance of leaving the state before the case could be filed, then the limit can be extended to the time they get back, even if it is after 4 years since the case cannot be held in the absence of the defendant.
- If the victim or plaintiff did not have the proper cognitive means to follow the case immediately, that is, if they are incapacitated. But this has a limit of not more than seven years.
- You did not initially discover that the other person’s negligence caused you an injury. This is usually in situations where the injury or pain does not manifest itself until years later, such as in cases like an accident or getting injured on someone else’s property. If you begin to feel pain or get an injury even after four years, you can still file a claim.
It is not always possible for you to have a clear idea of how things operate, legally or know what kind of personal injury claim you would be pursuing. That is why seeking help from a personal injury lawyer is a good option.
- First, having a lawyer, he/she would make sure that you try to file your claim within the established limits, as he knows the implication of not doing so. If you are not in the right condition, physically, he can help you, with your approval, to file and follow the matter up so that you can get your due compensation.
- Also, having a lawyer ensures that you end up with a better chance at more compensation. Going alone, the defendant may try to settle out of court, for a far lesser compensation, or you may not understand how to properly demand things you are being owed, such as lost wages. A lawyer understands all that, and whether it is an out of court settlement or not, the lawyer would see that you get your full due.
- Having a personal injury lawyer from the beginning can also help with the exceptions. For example, if you discovered the injury at a later time, or the person who caused the accident has fled the country, the lawyer would help you still gather necessary evidence so that your case would still be entertained when you finally bring it up in court.
If you have a personal injury claim, the best time to act is now as it could make the difference between getting compensation or not. If you do not know how to go about it, or you feel that time is far gone, you can still contact a personal injury lawyer to find out the next line of action.