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Statute of Limitations


Personal Injury

A statute of limitation, defined simply, is a provision, included within the law of a jurisdiction, which requires a victim to bring forth an action within a specified period of time. Unless an exception exists, when a statute of limitations has expired, an injured person may lose the right to file a lawsuit to seek compensation for damages. The car accident attorneys of the Law Office of Alba & Yochim P.A. know the importance of adhering to the statute of limitations, and provide the following to assist you in understanding the same.

Just as every accident, injury, or fatality can vary greatly, so can the time limitations associated with a particular type of claim.  While some auto accident cases involve actions brought forth by injured victims based upon a theory of negligence, many  involve claims for wrongful death, and in some cases, even medical malpractice. Determining the applicable statute of limitation, will depend on the factual circumstances surrounding the accident, and more importantly, the  type of claim you are asserting.

Civil actions that are founded in negligence must be brought forth within four (4) years from the date of the accident or injury. Negligence actions include claims that seek compensation for damages alleged to have been caused by the negligent acts (or omissions) of another individual or entity. Most auto accidents involve personal injury claims associated with the actions of a negligent motorist, however, it is important to consider other scenarios as well.

For example, some auto negligence claims involve products liability, such as actions brought forth against the manufacturer, distributor, or seller of a defective or faulty vehicle or vehicle component. In some cases, products liability actions are grounded in theories other than negligence, such as those based upon contract law.  In addition, some auto accidents can even involve claims associated with premises liability, such as where a property owner fails to remedy or warn another of the presence of a known dangerous condition. [See, Fl. Stat. 95.11(3)(a)].

It is important to distinguish between actions in which the victim, although injured, has survived the accident and is therefore able to seek damages on their own behalf, and actions involving a victim’s fatality. Motor vehicle accidents that result in the death of the victim are different, because the victim’s surviving family members seeks damages for the wrongful death of the victim. Wrongful death actions, in contrast to auto negligence actions, must be brought forth within two (2) years from the accident or fatality. [See, Fl. Stat. 95.11(4)(d)].

Another distinction, for statute of limitation purposes, are claims unrelated to actual cause of the auto accident, but that are associated with the injury or treatment for an injury extending from the accident. For example, in some cases, although the initial injury may have been caused by a negligent motorist, the victim subsequently suffered further injury or harm, as a result of the negligent action of a medical professional. Claims of this nature are referred to as medical malpractice actions, and under Florida law, such claims must be brought forth within two (2) years from the time of the incident, or within two (2) years from when the incident is discovered, or should have been discovered with due diligence. [See, Fl. Stat. 95.11(4)(b)].

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It is important to remember, that while adherence to the statute of limitation for a particular action is fundamental to recovery in an action, there are also other time limitations associated with auto accidents. Victims should be careful to not confuse the statute of limitations for an auto negligence action, with the statutory limitation under Florida’s revised PIP statute, requiring that medical treatment be sought within 14-day from the accident. Because this distinction is a common area of confusion for accident victims, our Gainesville injury team encourages clients to discuss their legal options as soon as possible following the accident, injury, or fatality.

In some cases, such as where a client secures representation at a time in which the applicable statute of limitation is approaching, your attorney may file an extension with the court, seeking permission to pursue a claim after the time period to bring forth a claim has expired. In other cases, an exception may exist, such as where the injury was not discovered by a victim of medical malpractice. However, as accident attorneys, the Law Office of Alba & Yochim P.A. urges you avoid making assumptions or conclusions on the possibility of an exception, or option to file an extension. Rather, we always encourage victims to seek consultation with a lawyer immediately following an accident.

Another important consideration is the consequences that can result when the victim allows the advice of another attorney that has declined representation, to affect their own assessment as to the validity of a claim, or otherwise discourage pursuit of a claim. In fact, the Law Office of Alba & Yochim P.A. has provided representation, and obtained compensation, on behalf of numerous clients that were refused representation by other law firms.  In sum, consider the benefits of taking a proactive approach—you have nothing to lose in a free consultation—and much that can be gained upon the discovery of a valid claim. Let our legal team go to work for you!