How To File A Florida Personal Injury Suit
If you are injured in an accident, most of the time you will simply rest, recuperate, and move on. However, if you are injured due to the negligent actions of another person, you may want to file a personal injury suit. A personal injury suit seeks compensation for both medical bills and expenses like lost wages or lost quality of life. However, the process can seem intimidating. Understanding exactly what it entails can help you decide whether or not to file suit.
Know When To File
There is always a window of time in which a lawsuit may be filed, known as a statute of limitations. Florida’s statute of limitations for personal injury cases is four years, as they are almost invariably negligence cases (that is, a case over whether or not someone has been negligent). This means that you have four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. While the reasoning behind choosing that specific length of time is unknown, statutes of limitations are in force because after a certain period, memories begin to fray and statements from witnesses become less positive. Forcing cases to be brought as soon as possible means that more information will be available about them.
Keep in mind that in the case of auto accidents, Florida is a no-fault state, meaning that you can only bring a lawsuit against an allegedly negligent driver if you have been seriously injured – usually a permanent injury or “serious and immediate” loss of an important bodily function will meet the standard, but less severe injuries generally will not. If this is you, then your best bet for compensation is to make a claim with your insurer or the other driver’s insurer (depending on the specific facts of your situation).
Records & Fault
In order to file a personal injury lawsuit and have a good chance of prevailing, you need one major piece of evidence, which is your medical records. After an accident, you should go to see a medical professional regardless of whether or not you perceive actual injuries, because medical records are the easiest way to show that you have been harmed in an accident (which is one of the required criteria to establish negligence). Medical records may be an object of discovery by the other side (discovery is the process by which both sides exchange information, and you have a duty to be truthful and forthcoming during the process!), but having them is always better than not.
If you do file a lawsuit, it is important to keep in mind that Florida does use the comparative fault system when apportioning awards. Comparative fault means that any recovery you are awarded will be lessened by the percentage you are found at fault – for example, if you are held to be 20 percent at fault for your own injuries, then your award will be lowered by 20 percent, as the law’s rationale is that it would be unjust to allow you to recover money for injuries you helped to cause. You can still recover something even if you are more than 50 percent at fault, though, unlike in many other states, where 51 percent or more means no recovery at all.
Seek Knowledgeable Legal Assistance
It is possible for laypeople to bring lawsuits on their own, but it is decidedly not recommended;lawsuits require specific training and without it, important details may be lost. The Tampa personal injury lawyers at the Rinaldo Law Group handle these types of cases constantly and are happy to sit down with you to try and work through yours. Call us today for a free consultation.