If you survive a personal injury accident, you can file a personal injury lawsuit. It could be a car accident, slip and fall, or other injury accidents. However, your right to sue doesn’t last forever. Instead, you must file your claim within a definite period. This time frame is called the Statute of Limitations.
Furthermore, it’s crucial to know whether there are situations where you can file your claim after the statutory period. That is, does the Florida Statute of Limitations have any exceptions? Therefore, it’s best to engage a Miami personal injury lawyer. An experienced attorney can ensure you file a timely action. Similarly, if you miss your deadline, they can tell if the exceptions cover your case.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injuries in Miami?
Florida’s personal injury law governs Miami’s injury cases. The relevant law is Florida Statutes section 95.11 (3) (a). This section specifies a four-year window for “an action founded on negligence.” This statutory period applies here because many personal injury claims are based on negligence. Essentially, you’re arguing that your injury was because the other party didn’t exercise due care.
Generally, the Statute of Limitations starts counting from the date of the accident. In addition, the statutory period doesn’t mean that the lawsuit must end in four years. The law only means that you must initiate your claim four years from the injury date. Therefore, if you file a claim three years and nine months after the injury, you’re still early. However, it’d be best to start pretty early.
What if You Miss the Statutory Deadline?
Many Miami injury victims don’t know about the Florida Statute of Limitations. So, someone can start a claim after four years. But, if you do, the defendant will most likely bring your lateness to the court’s notice. Then, the court will have no choice but to dismiss your lawsuit.
At this point, you’d have lost your right to damages. A late claim also affects your standing in any settlement negotiation. If the insurance company knows that you can’t resort to the courts, they may deny your claim. Conversely, they can reduce your settlement amount. Apart from these consequences, it’s still best to file your injury action early. This is because a prolonged delay can make you lose evidence that’s relevant to your case.
Are There Exceptions to the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations?
Yes, this statutory period has some exceptions. These exceptions allow the court to “toll” (pause) the clock, thus giving you more than a four-year window. Below are the relevant exceptions.
Absence of the Defendant
Sometimes, you can’t sue a person because they’re absent from the state. Their absence means that you cannot serve them with the court processes. Since this isn’t your fault, the statute tolls until they return to Florida. The courts won’t consider the defendant’s entire period outside the state when calculating the statutory period.
Concealment of the Defendant
A defendant may also remain within the state but take active steps to conceal themselves. They also do this to avoid being served with court processes. Firstly, they could hide within the state. In addition, they may use a false name that the plaintiff doesn’t know. In both cases, since you can’t identify and serve them with court processes, the law will toll the statutory period.
These two exceptions don’t apply in all circumstances. They only apply where service of process or publication can be made in a manner that’s sufficient to confer jurisdiction to grant the relief you’re seeking.
Minority or Incapacity of the Plaintiff
If you were still a minor at the time of the accident, you’d have a more extended period. This is because minors cannot maintain legal action. In addition, if the plaintiff is “legally incapacitated,” the time limit will pause in their favor. Incapacity in this instance refers to whether the plaintiff is suffering a mental illness. Notably, mental illness could be temporary or permanent.
Despite this fact, though, no more than seven years may pass from the accident date and the lawsuit filing. Therefore, the extension under this exception isn’t forever.
Miami Lawyers Can Keep You Within the Statute of Limitations
Indeed, Miami personal injury victims can recover compensation for their losses. However, filing after the Statute of Limitations can be fatal. Therefore, it’s best to stick to this time frame. If you have the guidance of the best Miami personal injury lawyers, this wouldn’t be challenging. Our lawyers have spent extensive years representing Miami injury victims. So, we can ensure that you start your claim early and maximize your compensation. Therefore, it’d be best to call our law office today.