How long after an accident do I have to file a lawsuit?

The very first step for victims of a car wreck or other accident is to ensure they receive treatment for their injuries and take some time to heal. Victims may be worried about how soon they need to file a lawsuit, but under Florida law, the general statute of limitations for actions founded on negligence is four years. This would include civil litigation against the at-fault party in a car accident or a negligent landlord or business owner in a premises liability suit.

The length of time of the statute of limitations varies by state, so it is important that those considering litigation understand what the laws in Florida allow instead of taking the advice of a family member or other layperson who may live in a state with different statutes. It’s also important to remember that the statute of limitations can be different depending on the type of personal injury claim. Medical malpractice suits, for instance, must be filed within two years instead of four.

Another factor to be aware of is when the time period begins. In general, the clock starts ticking when the victim first becomes aware that harm has been caused. In legal terms, this is often referred to as the “discovery of harm” rule. For car accidents, this is most often the day that the accident happened, although there can be some extenuating circumstances where the discovery of harm takes place at a later date.

Filing a personal injury lawsuit in a timely manner is important. Once you have begun to heal from injuries and have a better understanding of the extent of harm and the events surrounding the accident, a personal injury lawyer can help walk you through your options.

Source: FindLaw, “Time Limits to Bring a Case: The “Statute of Limitations”” Sep. 07, 2014