If you sustained injuries in a car accident, you might have the legal right to bring a claim for damages. However, you have only a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit.
Failure to file a lawsuit within the allotted time means the court will likely dismiss your case entirely.
If you want to know the specific deadline that applies in your case, it’s best to ask a skilled Florida car accident lawyer, How long after a car accident can you sue in Florida?
A Florida law called the statute of limitations sets forth the maximum amount of time you have after a car accident to bring a lawsuit. Evidence may be unattainable if someone tries to file a case too many years after a car accident.
How Long After a Car Accident Can You Sue?
In most situations, you have four years following a car accident to bring a lawsuit against the negligent party in Florida. This date is a hard deadline, which means the court cannot change it for you. If you are suing another driver or their employer, the deadline is typically four years.
However, not all Florida car accidents will fall under the four-year deadline. There are exceptions to this rule, which could mean you have less or more time to file a lawsuit. For example, you may have more time to file if you were under 18 or mentally incapacitated at the time of the accident.
How Long After an Accident Can You Sue in Florida for Wrongful Death?
It’s important to be aware that the deadline for filing a lawsuit will be different if a person died in the accident. Surviving family members could be eligible to bring a wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent party.
However, the statute of limitations is only two years. The clock starts running from the date of the person’s death, not the accident date.
How Long After an Accident Can You Sue a Government Entity?
Cases involving the State of Florida or a municipality, city, or county have slightly different rules. You still have four years to bring a lawsuit; however, you must put the appropriate governmental bodies on notice within three years.
Failure to send the written information to the various departments could result in a dismissal. The governmental body will go to court and ask the judge to dismiss your action entirely.
Examples of possible Florida government cases include:
- A Florida county bus strikes you;
- A city fire and rescue vehicle hits your vehicle; or
- A police or sheriff’s vehicle hits you.
If your case is against the United States government, then the timeline is very different. You must send an SF 95 Claim Form within two years of the date of the accident. They must receive the claim form within two years. Before suing, you must wait until they deny the claim.
If six months pass and you don’t hear anything, it’s considered a denial. Be advised: you have only six months to file a lawsuit. The clock starts running from the date of denial or six months from when you placed the governmental body on notice.
Examples of possible claims involving the U.S. government include getting into an accident with a United States Postal Truck or a vehicle belonging to the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol.
It’s crucial to understand what deadlines and rules apply to your case, especially if a local or United States governmental body is involved. Failure to file on time means you could be forfeiting your right to compensation entirely. That is one reason why working with an attorney is essential.
Why Should You File a Lawsuit Sooner Rather than Later?
Filing a lawsuit before the statute of limitations nears is essential. When you file before the deadline, it shows the defendant you are serious and committed to pursuing your claim.
It also ensures you don’t inadvertently miss the deadline entirely. Filing a lawsuit doesn’t mean you expect your case to go to trial. In fact, most cases in litigation resolve before the case reaches the point of setting a trial date.
The sooner you file a lawsuit, the better your chances of preserving evidence and proving your pain and suffering. There is no guarantee that the defendant will settle your claim right away. It could take a few months or a few years. Once a year or two has passed, you might not even be thinking about the statute of limitations.
The same goes for filing the claim forms or notice for cases involving a governmental body as a defendant. It’s not worth jeopardizing your entire car accident case by missing the notice deadlines.
Do You Need to Hire a Florida Accident Attorney?
Working with an attorney can definitely help your case in numerous ways. You won’t need to research “how long do you have to sue someone after a car accident” when you have a Florida car accident lawyer like Wendy Doyle-Palumbo representing you.
We know all the applicable rules and deadlines for car accident cases in Florida. We have extensive experience with these types of cases, including ones against the government.
When we represent you, we will handle all the stressful legal elements of the claims process. We want you to concentrate on your recovery and getting back to work, not be stressed out and worried about negotiating a settlement with the at-fault driver’s insurance company.
We will handle all communications and negotiations with the defendants, so you don’t have to. Our office will also reach out to all pertinent witnesses and collect evidence to support your claim.