How Much Time Do I Have After My Accident to Decide Whether or Not to Sue?

Tampa car accident victims have the right to file a civil complaint (lawsuit) against any parties whose negligence has caused an injury and financial losses. Personal injury victims in Tampa maintain this right until the state’s statute of limitations runs out. 

In Florida, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases is 4 years from the time your accident occured or, in some cases, the time in which you first noticed your injury (F.S. §95.11(3)(o)). After this time period has passed, it can be incredibly difficult to take legal action against parties who have injured you. You may still have legal recourse after four years, but just know that there will be additional factors that can challenge your chances of success.

Those who have been injured in a car accident in Tampa should not assume that they can wait as long as four years to file their injury case, either. The more quickly you begin, the more factors can be on your side.

If you have have been hurt in a car accident or other type of incident, you should begin discussing your case with a Tampa car accident lawyer as soon as possible. Steinger, Greene & Feiner can assist you with reviewing your available legal options. Since 1997, we have been providing injury victims in South Florida with dedicated legal advocacy and guidance. Call (786) 220-2990 or contact us online to schedule a free, no-obligation case review now.

What Does the Florida Statute of Limitations Mean for Personal Injury Victims?

A statute of limitations applies to anyone who wants to take a “recovery action.” A recovery action is another way of referring to a lawsuit filed by someone who has experienced losses that were caused by someone else’s negligence or wrongful actions. 

Most personal injury cases don’t need to resort to lawsuit to recover compensation. Many times, a liability insurance policy is available. An injury victim can file a demand letter to the appropriate insurance carrier, laying out their damages and describing why they think the negligent policyholder in question is liable. Usually, the insurance company and the injury victim can come to a settlement agreement, resolving the issue out of court.

However, insurance companies primarily make settlement offers as a way to avoid getting sued. The stronger the injury victim’s case is, the more likely the insurance company is to offer a reasonable settlement for all or most of the damages. On the other hand, if the insurance company feels like the claimant’s case is weak, then they may severely reduce the value of the settlement — or deny the claim altogether.

If someone is attempting to file a personal injury claim after the statute of limitations has passed, then the insurance company knows that they have a strong legal defense available. In the event that the claimant files a lawsuit, the insurer can file a motion to dismiss the case. It is very likely that such a motion will be granted. The injury victim can come up with reasons to explain to the court why they feel that they should be granted a stay (an extension) on the statute of limitations, but this will be a difficult case to make.

In short, letting the four-year statute of limitations pass by makes it extremely tough to recover compensation for your injury losses, either from an insurance claim or a lawsuit. Injury victims should be diligent to examine their legal options well in advance of the four-year statute deadline. They may need extra time to obtain evidence and gather the legal information required to build a strong case. Because of this need, it is important to speak to a Tampa personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your collision.

If You Have Been Hurt in an Accident, You Want to Receive Medical Treatment and Start Your Case ASAP

The four-year statute of limitations isn’t the only thing to be worried about when trying to get compensation for car accident injuries. Many insurance companies have time limits on the amount of time that can pass since an accident, and once these limits pass they will try to automatically reject your claim on the basis of policy language.

Additionally, evidence needed to demonstrate both negligence and your damages could disappear quickly after your accident occurs. The accident scene will likely be cleaned up within the next few days, removing evidence that could be used to reconstruct your crash. Security camera footage that might show how the accident happened could be automatically deleted within 24 – 48 hours. Witnesses to your collision could move, or they could simply forget some of the most important details needed to build your case.

The longer you wait to file your claim, the harder it may be to get all of the compensation you need. This is especially true if you delayed receiving medical treatment, which can allow a liable party to question whether your injuries happened because of the accident or because of something that happened later on.

For all these reasons and more, know that time is of the essence. You may have up to four years to file your injury lawsuit, but the odds of recovering all of your damages tick down day by day.

Speak to Experienced Tampa Car Accident Attorneys Now

Steinger, Greene & Feiner knows the common defenses insurance companies and liable parties use to get out of paying for your medical bills and other damages. We have handled cases where the plaintiff delayed taking action, and in some of those cases we were still able to recover compensation and help them move on with their life.

It is never too late to learn about your legal rights and your options for receiving compensation — but it is never too early, either. Get in touch today, and you can speak with a knowledgeable car accident attorney in Tampa near you. Schedule your free case evaluation now when you call (786) 220-2990 or contact us online.