How Long After a Car Accident Can I File an Injury Claim?

file injury claim after car accident

In legal terms, this question focuses on the statute of limitations with car accidents—the legal statute that defines the period of time an injured party has to file a lawsuit against the person who caused the injuries.

This can vary by state, the statute of limitations in Florida is four years. If a personal injury case is filed after the time period has elapsed, it’s likely that the court will refuse to hear the case. There are, however, exceptions to the time limitation. For example, if you did not immediately become aware of the harm caused by the accident, the court may be willing to extend the statute of limitations. In fact, it’s not uncommon for the full extent of injuries to surface after some time has passed. 

Another exception to consider, the statute of limitations is shorter if the personal injury claim you plan to file is against the state of Florida or a local government. 

One more example, if your case involves medical malpractice, you must file within two years of discovering the harm caused or when you should have been able to identify the harm. There can be exceptions (when the injury could not have reasonably been identified within two years) and then the statute of limitations may be extended to four years. If a medical provider intentionally concealed negligence, the statute of limitation is two years from when you discovered the fraudulent behavior or seven years from when it occurred. 

What to Do After a Car Accident

Too often, personal injury lawyers see people respond to the trauma of an accident in ways that could potentially hurt their chances for a fair settlement. To help, here are practical tips from our accident attorney team:

  • Call the police after an accident occurs so it can be officially documented. These officers are trained in collecting facts and evidence, and this can help your case. If you don’t call law enforcement, the other driver may dispute facts, even blaming you for the accident. Also write down your own notes and take your own pictures.
  • Don’t admit any fault, even if you’re feeling guilty about being involved in the car accident. Don’t make any comments about responsibility for the accident.
  • Get checked out by medical professionals. It’s important for your own well being and, if you don’t, the other party’s insurance company could claim your injuries weren’t that bad. A medical appointment could also bring hidden injuries to light. Keep all doctor’s appointments.
  • Don’t accept the other party’s insurance company’s first offer and don’t delay seeking out an accident attorney to discuss filing a claim.

Contact Personal Injury Lawyers at Harrell & Harrell

As you can see, the statute of limitations isn’t always black and white. It’s best to contact a personal injury attorney as soon after your accident as possible. Our attorneys are highly experienced in navigating the increasingly complex area of personal injury law, including when car accidents occur. If you’ve been the victim of an accident, we invite you to contact us online for a free consultation or call (904) 251-1111.