If you’re in an accident and decide to sue, you need to know the laws of the state in which you reside to be sure you receive adequate compensation. That’s because personal injury laws differ from one state to another.
Here are answers to three important questions about Florida’s personal injury laws:
How Long Do I Have to File My Lawsuit?
Each state has “statute of limitation” laws, which determine how long you have to bring your personal injury lawsuit. For residents of Florida, you generally have four years from the date of the accident to file such a suit. If you wait longer than four years, you probably won’t be able to file. There is an exception to this rule, the “discovery rule”. In some cases, you might not be aware (or “discover”) your injury for some period of time after the injury occurs. For example, a car accident could cause a back injury, but you don’t feel significant pain for a year or two. In these cases the time you have to file might be longer. Also, if your claim is against the government of a city, county or the state, you only have three years to file your lawsuit.
What If I’m Partially at Fault for the Injury?
In Florida law, this if sometimes referred to as comparative negligence, in which both parties are partially at fault. For example, if an accident occurs when another driver runs a stop sign, but you were driving over the listed speed limit, you could both be found partly responsible for the accident. In such cases, the court will determine what percent of the accident each party is responsible for and damages will be determined accordingly. In the example above, the court might determine that your speeding means you were 25% at fault. If your damages are $10,000, this will be reduced by 25% to $7,500.
Is There Any Limit to How Much Compensation I Can Receive?
Several states, including Florida, have caps on the amount you can receive in personal injury cases. In the majority of Florida personal injury cases, caps apply to punitive damages, which are limited to three times the amount of compensatory damages, or a maximum of $500,000, whichever amount is higher.
Every state has its own laws regarding personal injury lawsuits, and the laws of each state can be complicated and confusing. The guidelines presented here are a good starting point, but your best bet is to work with an experienced personal injury attorney who can walk you through the process and ensure you receive all the compensation for which you are eligible.