When Legal Timelines Matter the Most
September 3, 2020
Although no one leaves home expecting to be involved in an accident, they happen every day. Whether it was an embarrassing slip-and-fall or a neighborhood fender bender, you probably will not need to hire a lawyer if you were not injured in the accident. When injuries and damages are relatively minor, most insurance carriers have a reasonable system in place for fairly settling claims based on known replacement values for property as well as reimbursement of any medical expenses you may have incurred. So, as long as you feel comfortable in handling your own claim, most minor accidents can be resolved online or over the phone within a few weeks of the incident. However, if you were injured in an accident or thought your injuries were less serious than they have turned out to be, it is prudent to seek the advice of legal counsel as soon as possible.
There are time limits for the filing of lawsuits known as the statutes of limitations. These timelines for civil actions are established in each individual state. Depending upon the type of case, the civil statute of limitations in Florida is typically two to four years from the date of the incident or the actual discovery of a wrong. With injury to a person and damages to personal property, a victim has a four-year time limit to bring a case against an at-fault party in Florida. On the other hand, a claim for professional malpractice, medical malpractice and wrongful death have a statute of limitations of 2 years. In general, our state laws help to ensure fairness and predictability when it comes to filing lawsuits for a monetary settlement of a claim. However, an accident victim is required to act in a timely manner to document a claim and put the defendant on notice that they may be liable for damages. So, you cannot linger and leave the at-fault party with a potential legal matter hanging around indefinitely.
When most people hear that the statute of limitations on seeking reimbursement for a personal injury claim is multiple years from the time of an incident, there is often a false sense of security that there is plenty of time. Although it is true that everyone involved should have ample time to act and react, the clock is already ticking. The safest way to avoid all issues with statute of limitations, as well as the nuances and considerations that may extend or shorten timelines, is to discuss the details of your case with an experienced personal injury attorney. Should you fail to file a civil lawsuit before time runs out, you will likely be barred by the court and will not have an opportunity to seek restitution for your losses. Moreover, if you wait too long before filing, the defendant’s insurance carrier may be less motivated to reach an out-of-court settlement, while hoping the lawsuit may eventually be barred or dropped.
There are reasons that the statute of limitations shouldn’t be the only timeline you consider before speaking with an experienced lawyer. Among the most critical problems with waiting to call a personal injury law firm is the potential loss of crucial evidence and possible loss of witnesses. A good personal injury attorney understands the importance of conducting their own investigation of an accident and can help you navigate both the medical and legal landscapes that you face. Many accident victims make a huge mistake in thinking the insurance company is truly concerned about making them whole; they are not. Adjusters and lawyers that work for the insurance carrier have one goal and that is to settle the claim for the least amount of money. Make no mistake about it, the personal injury attorneys at Schackow & Mercadante have much more experience in negotiating with insurance companies than the average victim.
If you or a loved one were injured in an accident due to someone else’s negligence, unreasonable actions, or reckless behaviors, call 877-798-7700 for a free consultation to discuss the details of your claim with an experienced personal injury lawyer.