We had a potential client come to the office several months ago. She was a very nice lady who was involved in a motor vehicle crash with another car. It was not her fault; she was rear-ended at a stoplight. She sustained injuries to her neck and back at the scene and there were significant damages to both vehicles. The impact was tremendous and the other driver must have been traveling at a high rate of speed on impact. Our new, potential client was transported to the hospital, spent months with doctors, medications, therapists and even, ultimately, had surgery to her back. From an attorney’s perspective in the personal injury world, it sounded like a pretty good case!
Unfortunately, when we asked when the crash occurred, the client advised that it was six years ago. What? Why would you wait six years to see an attorney? Her honest answer was that she didn’t want to sue anyone and she didn’t think she would need a lawyer because she thought the insurance would take care of it all. Well, the insurance certainly did not take of it and she most certainly did need an attorney; only sooner. Sooner? Why?
Florida, like every other state, has what’s called a Statute of Limitations that provides for time limits on bringing actions. Any civil actions, and even most criminal ones, have a period of time within which you must bring your claim or you are forever barred from doing so. Florida’s Statute is found in Chapter 95 and it breaks down the time frames within which to bring various claims. For an automobile accident case, the negligence part of the statute requires a claim to be brought within 4 years. If the potential client had a claim against her own insurance company for benefits under an Un-insured or Under-insured policy of insurance; that claim would probably fall under Contract law, and a legal or equitable action on a contract, obligation, or liability founded on a written instrument, with exceptions, MUST be brought within 5 years. Unless you know about the nuances of the limitations statute, you can find yourself without any recourse if you wait too long.
Waiting to bring a claim is fraught with not just the peril of being legally foreclosed from bringing an action. If you wait to retain counsel, evidence can become stale or disappear. Witnesses can move, become impossible to find or die; leaving you unable to prove your case. Plus, any attorney you go to will need time to investigate and draft necessary pleadings. This too takes time.
After exploring all possible options, we were unable ultimately to help this nice lady because she waited too long to bring her case.
Please don’t wait! Protect your rights and your claims and act quickly to preserve your case.