Florida ranks among the states with the highest number of car crash incidents. In 2022, the Florida Crash Dashboard reported 391,901 auto accident cases, with 3,490 resulting in fatalities. Compared to previous years, motor vehicle collisions have been increasing in frequency.
With over 6,000 car crashes within the first half of 2023, Lee County ranks high in Florida’s most dangerous places to drive. Considering the high occurrence of neighboring motor vehicle collisions, Fort Myers locals should learn how to file a personal injury case.
A personal injury lawsuit enables victims to hold erring parties accountable for their injuries and seek appropriate compensation. However, filing a case requires attention to detail and adherence to specific requirements and procedures.
One crucial aspect to consider is the statute of limitations. Filing a lawsuit without knowing its legal implications can jeopardize the plaintiffs’ chances of gaining a favorable judgment. Besides being emotionally and financially prepared, interested parties should strive to have a better understanding of the law.
The Personal Injury Center offers online resources for filing an insurance claim, personal injury case, and other actions to protect your legal interests. Our team has drafted articles that are easy to read and informative, catering to individuals without an extensive legal background.
|Key Takeaways |
Statute of Limitations Definition
A statute of limitations is a law provision that prohibits parties from filing lawsuits against another person after a specific time has elapsed. Usually, the reckoning period begins when the accident victims incur bodily injuries, property damages, or losses. Statutes of limitations can apply to both civil and criminal actions.
Once the prescription period passes, litigants may no longer file a lawsuit to seek redress for their injuries and losses. At this point, they have lost the privilege of using the courts’ facilities to champion their causes. The statute of limitation is a strict requirement that all courts must adhere to.
The stringency of prescription periods may seem too restrictive and tedious for others, but statutes of limitations hold a logical purpose. With it, the legal system can shield would-be defendants from unfair legal actions.
If courts were to entertain cases filed at an excessively late period, defendants would face significant challenges in defending themselves. Over time, the defendants’ evidence would have been lost or compromised, hindering their ability to mount a proper defense.
The prescription period varies depending on the case’s nature and jurisdiction the statute applies. Some cases have longer allowable filing periods than others. Although there are variations across states, the typical prescriptive period for personal injury lawsuits is two to four years.
Section 95.11 of the 2022 Florida Statutes sets most of the prescriptive periods for Fort Myer lawsuits.
Statute of Limitations on Different Cases
Florida law sets specific statutes of limitations for various categories of lawsuits. Knowing the specific deadline when injured parties must file a lawsuit is helpful when anticipating other time-dependent processes. Depending on the case, the plaintiffs may need more time to prepare and establish a strong claim.
Auto accident victims may seek compensation from at-fault drivers for pain and suffering, medical bills, car repair costs, and other related expenses. It is ideal to settle everything without going to court. However, there are situations when parties cannot resolve their differences and require judicial intervention.
In Florida, parties have two years to raise a personal injury lawsuit for losses sustained from a car accident. The prescription date starts from the accident date.
Families and dependents of a person who died because of a personal injury may file for a wrongful death lawsuit. This action enables the victim’s survivors to seek reimbursement for treatment and funeral costs. Plaintiffs do not have to prove that the at-fault party is guilty of a criminal charge to demand damages.
The prescriptive period for wrongful death cases is two years from the victim’s death.
Patients and their legal representatives may file a slip-and-fall lawsuit against their attending healthcare providers and institutions. The injuries victims sustain can range from severe to life-threatening. In unfortunate cases, they may even result in death.
According to Florida law, the allowable period to file slip-and-fall lawsuits is two years from the accident date.
Dog bite injury
Dog bites can cause life-threatening injuries to victims. The most common canine attack injuries are as follows:
- Broken bones
- Face, head, and neck injuries
- Nerve and tissue damage
Victims may file a dog bite lawsuit against the attacking canine’s owner or ward within two years from the incident date.
Patients may file a medical malpractice lawsuit if they suffer injuries due to a medical institution or healthcare professional’s negligence or omission. Most plaintiffs would demand reimbursement for treatment and rehabilitation costs.
The prescriptive period for medical malpractice cases is two years. The prescription period exists to deter baseless claims, encourage out-of-court settlements, and regulate medical malpractice insurance costs.
Parties may sue a property owner if they sustained injuries while on their premises. Owners have a legal responsibility to keep a safe environment for visitors. For example, suppose a pool owner fails to keep their pool clean and free of debris. They may be liable for injuries sustained within the unkempt premises.
The updated statute of limitations for premises liability lawsuits is two years counting from the accident date.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is not absolute. Although courts are strict with implementing filing deadlines, they also recognize exceptions to avoid the miscarriage of justice. However, parties should fulfill specific conditions to invoke these exceptions.
Learn to defend your rights and promote your interests by familiarizing yourself with the following allowable exceptions:
The statute of limitations may not apply to plaintiffs deemed legally incapacitated to file a case. Parties who may not have the legal capacity to prosecute their cases include:
- People with psychological or mental health issues
- Incarcerated individuals
The prescriptive period will only run once these parties regain their legal capacity. However, this exception may not apply to all cases. Always consult a personal injury attorney to explore your options.
The discovery rule is one of the most known exceptions to the statute of limitations. Under this rule, the reckoning period for prescription begins when the claimant discovers the injury or loss.
For instance, the discovery rule exception may apply to personal injury claims involving injuries with late onsets. Injured parties may file beyond the prescription date to claim damages for their newly discovered injuries.
Defendant left the state
At-fault parties may go into hiding to evade litigation and avoid paying damages. In cases like these, it would be unfair for the prescriptive period to continue running since it could result in the loss of the plaintiff’s right to sue.
Before filing a case, the injured party should work with the police department to pinpoint the at-fault party’s whereabouts. The lawsuit may not proceed if the defendant is out of state.
The principle of continuing harm is another exception that may extend the deadline for filing a lawsuit. This doctrine applies when the ongoing relationship between the plaintiff and defendant results in harm to the former while the trial continues.
This principle of continuing harm often falls within the law’s gray area and requires intensive legal research. Coordinate with a reliable legal team to determine the most appropriate cause of action.
How To Avoid Missing the Statute of Limitations
Litigants must be diligent in keeping track of dates to meet the deadlines set by the statute of limitations. Failing to file on time may forever bar the litigants from pursuing their cases.
Filing dates can be confusing, but they can be manageable with a strategic approach. These tips can help you keep organized and meet deadlines imposed by the statute of limitations:
Determine what type of case you are filing
Before considering the time limit, study the case you intend to file. As mentioned earlier, the prescriptive period varies per case. Spend time learning the legal implications of your lawsuit and the possible actions you can raise.
Deciding on what case to file also sets expectations on its difficulty. Some lawsuits need more time for preparation and processing. Use this knowledge to adjust your schedule when pursuing a lawsuit.
Verify the applicable statute of limitations
After knowing what case to file, study the applicable statutes of limitations. Every jurisdiction imposes a unique set of prescription periods. It is a common mistake to mix up the dates.
Besides looking at the length of the allowable filing period, study when the reckoning dates. Some cases may have the same filing period of two years, but their starting dates may differ.
Set calendar reminders
Since it is the modern age, use modern tools. Utilize digital applications to calendar deadlines so you can remember to file within the allowable period. Most smartphones can even sync digital calendars with the account owner’s calendar.
If you are not tech-savvy, regular calendar books and journals also work. Legibly organize the dates so it is easier to identify and remember the filing dates.
Prepare the requirements ahead of time
One way to improve your chances of filing early or on time is to prepare the requirements in advance. It is best to coordinate with your lawyer in creating a checklist of pleadings to file and their attachments. Managing a lawsuit can be stressful, especially when things are disorganized.
Preparing requirements ahead of time keeps the parties from rushing. Since they are not in a hurry, it is likelier that they can process everything in a composed manner.
Suspend the running of limitation periods
Section 95.051 of the 2022 Florida Statutes enumerates the instances when the tolling of a statute of limitations is allowable. Here are some examples:
- The soon-to-be defendant is out of state
- The soon-to-be defendant used a false name
- The soon-to-be defendant applied concealment to avoid the process of service
- The plaintiff had a legal incapacity to sue
Consult a personal injury attorney
Do not hesitate to meet with personal injury lawyers. There is no shame in asking for a legal opinion because the statute of limitations is a relatively confusing concept. Seeking legal opinion about your case will help you clarify questions and avoid costly mistakes.
Filing a lawsuit should not be a trial and error. Working with experts could prevent unnecessary costs and resolve legal problems as early as possible.
Reasons To File Ahead the Expiry of Statute of Limitations
It is advisable to file car accident claims early, whether in court or before an insurance company. Waiting too long before filing may significantly lower your chances of winning the case.
Here are the top reasons you should not file your claim at the end of the allowable period:
Preservation of evidence
The quality of evidence may deteriorate as time passes, especially when they are not well-preserved. Even if the parties meticulously preserve the evidence, losing them can be possible. Many parties fail to prosecute their claims because they can no longer present convincing evidence.
Better credibility of witnesses
The witnesses may no longer have a clear recollection of the events when they appear as witnesses after a long period. In other instances, a party may have suffered an injury rendering them unable to stand as a credible witness. This scenario is common among motorcycle accident victims with severe brain injuries.
More time to prepare for the trial
Filing in advance gives litigants more time to prepare for court trials. Other than procedural and financial preparation, litigants should emotionally prepare themselves. The parties may handle court trials better when they allot time to relax before and after each hearing schedule. They should also avoid rushing things to keep their anxiety under control.
Time allowance for delays
Delays are unexpectedly destructive. They can derail plans and compromise the party’s winning rate. While planning for the lawsuit, litigants should anticipate delays and create appropriate counter plans to mitigate their impact.
Advanced processing of the case
Filing the case early also allows litigants to process and complete the court trials earlier. However, parties should remember that the results remain uncertain because the other party could act slowly or become uncooperative.
This tip could also apply when working with insurance adjusters. Being on the top priority list is ideal because insurance companies simultaneously serve multiple parties.
Statute of Repose
Litigants sometimes confuse the statute of limitations with the statute of repose. It is crucial to distinguish one from the other to avoid confusion and procedural errors.
The statute of repose sets the prescription period when a cause of action becomes moot and academic. In addition, the designated date disregards when the party discovered the personal injury.
Its trigger is the completion of a specific act. Applying the statute of repose can be more favorable to defendants, as it limits the time frame a claim can be brought, even if the injury is discovered later.
In comparison, the statute of limitations depends on the injury or discovery date. This law is more favorable to plaintiffs, as it provides them with a specific time frame to file a claim based on when the injury was sustained or discovered.
Collaborate With Fort Myers Car Accident Lawyers Nearest You
When filing a Fort Myers personal injury lawsuit, always keep the statute of limitations in mind. Filing beyond this period may prevent you from pursuing future legal actions for the exact cause of action. In most cases, the prescriptive period is two years.
Working on your case can be overwhelming, but you do not have to be alone. Consult a trustworthy law office to determine the best time to file a lawsuit.
The Personal Injury Center offers a free case evaluation to help connect you with the best legal team most suitable for your case. We will direct you to their Fort Myers office so you can have in-depth and in-person discussions.
Elevate your chances of receiving optimum compensation for accidents in Fort Myers. Visit The Personal Injury Lawyer to connect with a lawyer or law firm near you.
FAQs on Accidents in Fort Myers
It depends. There are specific cases whereby an injured party’s age has a direct correlation with the running of the statute of limitations. It is ideal to consult a personal injury attorney to fully understand how age may factor into your specific situation.
Failing to file within the prescriptive period bars a party from pursuing legal actions against the responsible party. However, some exceptions may toll or pause the running of the statute of limitations. It is advisable to consult a personal injury attorney for a more detailed discussion.
Hire a car accident attorney as soon as possible, especially if someone suffers a serious injury. Prompt legal consultation may save you and your loved one from further harm.