When you are involved in a car accident in Palm Beach, you need to know your legal rights. Florida law sets strict filing deadlines in auto-related claims. If you do not meet these deadlines, you will not receive the benefits you deserve. These deadlines are commonly referred to as “statute of limitations”.
Under Florida law, you may be entitled to no-fault and uninsured motorist benefits. You also may sue a negligent driver for damages. Each of these potential claims has rules and a different statute of limitations.
When Should I File for No-Fault Benefits?
Florida is a no-fault (or “PIP”) state. Under Florida law, you can receive wage loss and medical benefits regardless of whether you caused the car accident. Your insurance company will pay 60% of your lost wages and 80% of your medical costs (up to $10,000). Deductibles may apply, depending on your insurance policy.
If you are injured in a car accident, you should call 911 and contact your insurance company right away. Make sure you give them with a detailed explanation of the accident and your symptoms.
You should also seek necessary medical treatment as soon as possible. Insurance companies are often skeptical of late-reported claims, which may cause a denial of benefits.
If you fail to seek medical treatment within 14 days of your accident, your medical coverage could be limited to $2,500.
If your no-fault benefits are denied, you have five years to sue the insurance company. However, you must also meet many time-sensitive requirements before you file a PIP lawsuit. You cannot receive PIP benefits if you fail to meet all of these pre-lawsuit notice and demand requirements.
Due to the complexity of Florida’s PIP law, you should hire an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can guide you through the claims process and protect your rights.
When Should I Sue a Negligent Driver?
If another driver caused your serious injuries, you may sue the driver for negligence. In a negligence claim, you can sue the driver for damages, including pain and suffering.
The statute of limitations against a negligent driver varies depending on the accident caused serious injuries or a wrongful death.
If you were seriously injured in a car accident, you have four years from the accident to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver.
Serious injuries include:
- Permanent injuries
- Significant and permanent scarring or disfigurement and
- Permanent loss of bodily function.
The same four-year deadline applies to claims involving vehicle damage.
If the accident caused a death, you only have two years to file a lawsuit against the negligent driver. This two-year deadline begins once the person has passed away from their injuries. For more information, see our article on wrongful death claims.
If you think you suffered serious injuries in a Palm Beach auto accident, you should contact a lawyer for a free consultation. An experienced lawyer will evaluate your case and advise you on your legal rights.
What if an At-Fault Driver is Uninsured?
Almost 24% of Florida’s drivers are uninsured. (This is one of the highest percentages in the United States!)
The Law Team encourages all Florida drivers to buy uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM) coverage. UM insurance protects you when an at-fault driver has no insurance or insufficient coverage to cover your injuries.
Florida law sets a five-year statute of limitations in UM claims. Unlike in a standard negligence claim, a UM lawsuit is filed against your insurance company.
UM lawsuits are very complicated. If an uninsured motorist caused your accident, you should contact a lawyer immediately.
For more information, see our article about UM claims.
When Should I Contact a Lawyer for Help?
If you are injured in a car accident, you should contact an experienced car accident lawyer as soon as possible. While you may have years to file a claim, it is in your best interest to hire a car accident attorney right away.
The insurance company and its adjusters will try to minimize your benefits (or deny your claim completely). An experienced lawyer can educate you about your rights and responsibilities under Florida law.
A lawyer will also make sure that you receive the maximum benefits allowed under the law.
But, not all lawyers are created equal. You should make sure that your lawyer is a good fit for your personality and needs.
You also need a lawyer that has experience with car accident claims. (For more information, see our article about selecting the right lawyer.)
Statutes of limitations are dangerous. If you do not meet these filing deadlines, you cannot receive compensation for your car accident. Unfortunately, Florida law is complicated, and most people cannot successfully handle a claim on their own.
If you need help with a car accident claim (or claims), contact our experienced lawyers today.