Category: Personal Injury

How Long Do I Have To File a Personal Injury Claim After an Accident in Florida?

How Long Do I Have To File a Personal Injury Claim After an Accident in Florida?

Many assume that because Florida is a no-fault state for automobile insurance, they cannot sue a driver after a car accident. However, that is not entirely true. Florida’s insurance laws allow accident victims to file a personal injury claim after an accident in Florida if they sustain serious injuries and in other circumstances as well. However, the statute of limitations limits your time to file a personal injury claim after an accident in Florida. 

A team of experienced personal injury lawyers can help you determine the deadline for filing your personal injury claim in Florida. They can also advise you of your rights and legal options after an accident, helping you recover the maximum amount of compensation available. 

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations is a law that limits the time you have to file a lawsuit or take legal action. In a car accident case, the statute of limitations sets the deadline for filing a lawsuit seeking damages. If you file your lawsuit after the deadline expires, a judge can dismiss the lawsuit even if you have a valid legal claim.

Statutes of limitations differ by state. Furthermore, there could be exceptions to the general statute of limitations for claims. Therefore, you must know what Florida laws apply in your personal injury case to determine how much time you have to file an injury claim after an accident in the state. 

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Cases in Florida?

Most car accident claims are based on negligence. The Florida statute of limitations for negligence-based claims was recently amended. As of March 24, 2023, the deadline to file a lawsuit for a car accident claim is two years from the accident date. 

However, if the car crash took place before March 24, 2023, the previous law should apply. In those cases, the deadline to file a lawsuit would be four years from the accident date.

It is important to note that exceptions to the statute of limitations could alter the filing deadline for a lawsuit. Furthermore, the parties involved in the case and other factors could impact the filing deadline for a personal injury claim. 

For example, if your car accident claim involves a government entity, you might have a different deadline. As another example, if the victim is a minor, the deadline could be extended. 

According to Mark Roman & John Austin, Tampa personal injury lawyers at Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers, “determining how long you have to file a personal injury claim after an accident can be complicated. You should not assume you have plenty of time to file a claim. Instead, it is better to seek legal advice as soon as possible after a car crash in Florida”. 

The Benefits of Taking Legal Action Quickly After an Accident

Two years sounds like more than enough time to file a personal injury claim after an accident. However, time is not on your side. You should act quickly to file a personal injury claim for several reasons, which include:

Preserve Evidence 

An accident victim has the burden of proving the elements of a negligence claim to win a personal injury claim for a car accident. Those elements are:

The burden of proof is by a preponderance of the evidence. You must convince jurors that there is at least a 50% chance that the other driver caused your car accident. The strength of your evidence is crucial to winning your case.

However, delaying a claim could result in evidence being lost or destroyed. The sooner you contact an attorney, the quicker the attorney can work to collect and preserve evidence.

Allow Your Attorney Time To Prepare

It takes time to investigate and gather evidence to file a personal injury claim. The more time the attorney has to prepare your case, the better. Waiting until the statute of limitations is about to expire may not give an attorney time to prepare a lawsuit. 

Contacting a personal injury lawyer early in the process gives them sufficient time to work on your case. With more time, the attorney may be able to negotiate a fair settlement to avoid the cost, stress, and time of litigation. 

Memories Fade and Change

Eyewitness testimony can be powerful evidence in a car accident case. However, a witness’s memory may fade over time. They may not remember key details about the accident. 

An attorney can obtain the witness’s testimony early in the process by conducting a deposition. A deposition is sworn testimony given outside of court. 

Receive Compensation Quicker

Most personal injury claims are settled through negotiations with the other party. Beginning the process now means you might receive your compensation quicker. 

Set Up a Free Consultation With a Personal Injury Lawyer

You may need additional time to recover after an accident. Hiring a personal injury lawyer allows you to focus on your recovery. Your attorney can handle all matters related to your claim, including monitoring the deadlines for filing your lawsuit appropriately and on time.

What Should I Consider When Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney in Louisiana?

What Should I Consider When Hiring a Personal Injury Attorney in Louisiana?

After a personal injury accident, you face a difficult situation. The easy path would be to ignore the situation and try to move on with your life. However, you may face significant financial losses due to medical bills and missed time from work. Your quality of life might also decrease due to pain, depression, and disfigurement.

Hiring a lawyer may be necessary to get compensation for your losses. The lawyer you hire for your case could make a dramatic difference in your personal injury case outcome. The right lawyer will have the skills, knowledge, and experience to put you in the best position to recover fair compensation for your injuries.

The Role of the Personal Injury Attorney

Louisiana law gives you the right to pursue injury compensation when you suffer an injury due to someone else’s actions. If you lost a loved one to a fatal accident, you could pursue a wrongful death claim against those who caused your loved one’s death.

In either case, your claim will probably start with an insurance claim. Many accidents are covered by insurance policies such as:

  • Auto insurance
  • Homeowner’s Insurance
  • Medical malpractice insurance
  • General business liability insurance

These policies include liability coverage, which covers claims from third parties that fall within the policy. So, for example, when a driver hits a pedestrian, the pedestrian is covered by the driver’s auto insurance liability coverage.

If the driver also suffers an injury, the liability coverage will not cover the driver’s losses. Liability insurance only pays third-party claims against the policyholder. It does not pay claims by the policyholder.

Your attorney will prepare the claim and document your losses. To win a claim, your lawyer must prove the policyholder bears legal liability for your injuries. Many claims will settle at this stage based on the documents submitted. Your attorney only needs to negotiate with a claims adjuster to get you the greatest compensation possible.

But in some situations, the claims adjuster will deny your claim. Some common grounds for claim denials include the following:

  • The policyholder did not cause your accident
  • The policyholder did not act negligently
  • The accident did not cause your injuries
  • Your losses did not result from your injuries

If your injury attorney cannot overcome the claim denial, they must file a lawsuit to continue your pursuit of compensation.

Factors to Consider When Hiring an Injury Lawyer in Louisiana

Some considerations when hiring an injury lawyer include:

The Lawyer’s References

When you start looking for a lawyer, you should look for someone who comes highly recommended. References from other lawyers or even judges should carry a lot of weight. They have often seen the lawyer in action and know the level of skill and knowledge they possess.

References from former clients are also valuable. A former client will only recommend their attorney if satisfied with the results. Equally importantly, if a former client recommends against a lawyer, listen to why they were unhappy with the lawyer’s work.

You should beware of online reviews. While online reviews can provide limited insight into the lawyer’s skills, you have no way to verify the source. As a result, the reviews might give you a false impression of the lawyer.

The Lawyer’s Communication Skills

Most injury lawyers offer free consultations to new clients. Once you narrow down the field of lawyers, you will want to schedule free consultations with the lawyers under consideration.

During the consultation, you will describe your accident and your injuries. The lawyer will explain your legal options and may even estimate the compensation you can seek. As you converse, listen to the substance of the lawyer’s explanation and how well the lawyer explains the legal issues.

Lawyers must have strong communication skills to negotiate with claims adjusters and persuade them to accept your claim. If the claims adjuster denies your claim, the lawyer must explain and persuade a judge and jury to agree with your side of the story and award damages to you.

Experience Handling Similar Cases

Experience can make a difference in the lawyer’s ability to quickly obtain the best possible outcome. However, their total number of years is not the only relevant factor. You want a lawyer who has successfully handled similar cases.

Lawyers gain skills through practice, and the skills that a lawyer gains through handling truck accident cases might not necessarily translate directly to a medical malpractice case. Additionally, the lawyer might not have relationships with the expert witnesses you need for your case if they usually handle different types of cases.

Legal Fees Charged by the Lawyer

One of the most important considerations in hiring a lawyer is the fee you will pay. Most injury attorneys charge a contingency fee. But the percentage could vary from lawyer to lawyer.

The benefit of a contingency fee for accident victims is that you will not need to pay any upfront fees for the lawyer to start working on your case. Additionally, a contingency fee gets paid at the end of the case based on the compensation your lawyer recovers for you. Thus, you only pay if you win or settle your case.

Lawyers in Louisiana must provide a written fee agreement before you hire them. Review the fee agreement carefully and ask any questions that come to mind. You will have fewer disputes with the lawyer if you fully understand the agreement before signing it.

Hiring an Injury Lawyer in Louisiana

Once you choose a lawyer, Louisiana law requires the lawyer to have you sign the fee agreement. The lawyer can start working on your case immediately by collecting your medical records and filing an insurance claim.

Choosing a lawyer is only the first step in pursuing injury compensation. But with careful consideration, you will hire a lawyer who can get the best possible outcome for your case.

What Makes a Personal Injury Case Go to Trial?

What Makes a Personal Injury Case Go to Trial?

Everyone wants their injury case to resolve quickly and easily. However, sometimes that’s not the case. Every qualified personal injury lawyer is prepared to file a lawsuit and go to trial when they can’t reach an agreement. 

Even though most personal injury cases do resolve by agreement, a case may go to trial for several reasons.

Settlement Vs. Trial

A settlement is an agreement between two parties to end a legal dispute. Usually, a settlement involves one party paying another money, even if it is less money than desired. Settlements can also include other terms like waiving your right to sue or to collect future damages

A settlement is a desirable outcome because everyone avoids a stressful trial. Plus, it reduces the risk on both sides. One side may be worried about having to pay more than the settlement offer after losing a trial, and the other may be worried about losing and getting nothing at all.

On the other hand, a trial is a legal proceeding where a judge or jury listens to the evidence and decides on a legal issue. In a personal injury case, they decide if the defendant is at fault for the accident and the total damages. A trial can be long and expensive depending on the number of witnesses and amount of evidence in a case. 

Liability Dispute

One reason why a personal injury case may go to trial is that there is a liability dispute. If the defendant doesn’t agree to take responsibility for the accident, then they may not agree to a settlement. 

Instead, you’ll need to file a personal injury lawsuit and have the court decide who is at fault during a trial. The decision maker may be the judge or a jury, depending on the type of trial that you choose.

Unfair Settlement Offer

It is very common for a defendant or their insurance company to make an unfair settlement offer. Usually, these offers are very low and do not fully compensate you for your injuries. If your lawyer negotiates with the insurance company but they refuse to pay you more, then the attorney may advise you to file a lawsuit and go to trial.

In these cases, your lawyer is fairly confident that you will win your case and get more money than the offer if you have a trial. Ultimately it is your decision whether or not to accept a settlement offer or go to trial since you are the one who must live with the consequences.

Low Insurance Policy Limits

If you were in a car accident or have a product liability claim, the defendant may be relying on their insurance company to pay for your injuries. Most insurance policies have a limit and won’t pay anything beyond it. After all, that’s the agreement that we make when we pay for an insurance policy.

If you have serious injuries and need more money than what is allowed by the policy, you may need to file a lawsuit against the defendant. That means going to trial. If you win your trial, the defendant will be responsible for paying the full amount of damages, regardless of their policy limit. Their insurance company will pay out the policy and the defendant will pay the excess.

How Can Personal Injury Lawyers Help During A Trial?

A personal injury lawyer can help you immensely during a trial. Trials are complicated legal processes. They involve pre-trial preparations like:

  • filing motions
  • taking depositions
  • collecting evidence
  • hiring experts

During the trial, you need to:

  • examine witnesses
  • enter evidence
  • make legal arguments 
  • make objections
  • follow specific court procedures in your region

Lawyers are trained to do each of these tasks. 

When people represent themselves in personal injury cases, the outcome is usually worse. That’s because non-lawyers don’t fully understand the law, the court procedure, or how to effectively make an argument. People who represent themselves can bog down the trial by making errors and mistakes that frustrate the judge and jury. This may result in losing the case and blowing your chance to get paid.

Contact an experienced injury attorney if you need help with your injury claim.