The statute of limitations for car accidents refers to the deadline by which you must file a lawsuit for damages resulting from the accident. This deadline varies from state to state. On March 24, 2023, when Gov. DeSantis signed the new Florida tort reform bill into law, the state's statute of limitations for car accidents decreased from four years to two. That gives you only two years from your car accident to file a legal claim for damages.
If you fail to file a legal claim within this deadline, you cannot recover damages for your car accident injuries, though Florida's statute of limitations makes some exceptions.
If you have questions about your car accident claim, contact one of the car accident lawyers at Lulich & Attorneys. Our Vero Beach car accident lawyers can provide you with a free consultation to determine if you can seek compensation for damages.
What Exceptions Do Florida’s Statute of Limitations Contain?
Florida’s strict deadline on car accident claims contains some exceptions, such as:
- Discovery of the injury: If the injury or illness did not immediately appear at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations may extend to two years from when you discovered or should have discovered the injury through reasonable diligence.
- Minors: If the injured party is a minor at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations won’t begin until they turn 18 years old. This gives them until their 20th birthday to file a personal injury lawsuit.
- Insanity or incompetence: If the injured party is declared legally incompetent or insane, the statute of limitations may extend until they are declared competent or sane.
- Service members: If a member of the military is on active duty and cannot appear and participate in a claim, they may receive more time to file a claim.
- Governmental entities: If a government entity or employee caused the injury, the injured party must file a notice of claim within a specified time before filing a lawsuit, and the statute of limitations may decrease from two years to a much shorter time.
Does the Statute of Limitations Apply to Insurance Claims?
Florida’s two-year statute of limitations on car accident claims applies to legal claims, not a claim you make to the insurance company. If you are in a car accident in Florida, contact your insurance company within a day or two to report the accident. Failure to do so may result in the insurance company denying your claim or canceling your policy.
If you did suffer injuries in a Florida car accident, since Florida is a no-fault insurance state, you must first seek compensation for your injuries through your own car insurance company, regardless of who caused the crash.
If you sustained severe injuries, you may pursue additional compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. In that case, Florida’s statute of limitations gives you two years to file a legal claim.
Do I Have Grounds for a Car Accident Claim?
To recover compensation in a car accident, you must prove that the other driver was mostly at fault.
To prove that, you must establish the four elements of negligence:
- Duty of care: The other driver owed others a duty of care. In other words, all drivers must drive safely and follow the rules of the road to protect other drivers and pedestrians.
- Breach of duty: The other driver breached that duty. For example, a speeding driver breaches his care of duty.
- Causation: The other driver’s carelessness (for example, speeding) caused the accident, resulting in your injuries.
- Damages: Your accident-related injuries caused you damages, such as medical bills and, if your injuries prevented you from doing your job, lost income.
What if I Partially Caused My Injuries?
Florida’s new tort reform changed the state’s comparative negligence standard. Comparative negligence assigns fault in accidents by appropriating blame between the plaintiff and the defendant. The general rule is that the more fault you bear for an accident, the less compensation you can collect for your damages.
With the passage of Florida’s tort reform package, the state follows a modified comparative negligence rule, which prevents those with more than 50 percent of the fault for the injuries from collecting any compensation.
Floridians with less than 50 percent fault can still recover compensation, but their percentage of fault will reduce the compensation they recover.
What Compensation Could I Recover?
In Florida,after a car accident, you may receive compensation for:
- Medical expenses: This includes compensation for all medical bills associated with the car accident, such as ambulance fees, hospital bills, doctor visits, physical therapy, and prescription medication.
- Lost income: If you miss work due to injuries sustained in the car accident, you may claim lost earnings. This includes compensation for any lost income from work and future lost income if you cannot return to work due to your injuries.
- Property damage: If the accident damaged your car, you may receive compensation for repairs or replacement of your vehicle. This also applies to any personal property that the accident damaged, such as your phone or laptop.
- Pain and suffering: You may recover compensation for the pain and suffering you experienced from the accident, including emotional distress, anxiety, depression, and any other mental anguish.
- Loss of enjoyment of life: If your injuries from the car accident prevent you from enjoying your normal activities, you may recover compensation for the loss of enjoyment of life.
- Punitive damages: In rare cases, you may receive punitive damages. These damages punish the at-fault party for reckless or intentional behavior.
Contact Our Vero Beach Personal Injury Lawyers Today
If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a car accident in or around Vero Beach, our team of car accident lawyers can help you. We can assess your legal options during a free consultation and determine if someone else’s carelessness or reckless actions caused your injuries and whether you have grounds to seek compensation. Our personal injury lawyers represent victims just like you and fight to recover the full and fair compensation they need and deserve.
Contact us online or at (772) 589-5500 today, and learn how the car accident lawyers at Lulich & Attorneys can help you.