The statute of limitations for motorcycle accident lawsuits in Florida is now generally two years after a recent change to the law in early 2023. Understanding exactly what that means for your case can be challenging for a crash victim who is going through this process for the first time, though.
Some victims choose to hire Florida motorcycle accident lawyers to help them understand the changes to the statute of limitations for personal injury cases in the state. Legal representatives can help you figure out how this change affects your situation and how you can avoid missing this deadline, which could invalidate your case.
How the Statute of Limitations Works in Florida
When you suffer injuries in a motorcycle crash that was not your fault, you have the right to sue to seek damages from the person who caused the crash. However, you don’t have an unlimited amount of time to seek your money through a lawsuit.
The deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit varies from state to state. In legal terms, this deadline is the statute of limitations. In Florida, after a recent change to the law, the deadline is now two years from the date of the accident. Before the change, the statute of limitations in Florida was four years.
Why does a Statute of Limitations Exist?
A statute of limitations serves to protect people from having to worry about potential lawsuits forever. When someone causes an accident that leaves a victim with injuries, the victim might not choose to file a lawsuit right away.
Without some sort of deadline for filing the lawsuit, though, the victim potentially could choose to file a lawsuit a few decades in the future. By that point, the defendant would have little chance to find facts to create a defense. It would be difficult for either side to prove that the accident caused the injuries mentioned in the lawsuit.
The idea behind creating a statute of limitations is that it forces a victim to make a decision about bringing a lawsuit in a reasonable time frame for both parties.
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How the Statute of Limitations Affects Your Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit
It’s important to understand that the statute of limitations only affects the time limit for filing a legal claim or a lawsuit in Florida. It does not affect your ability to try to negotiate a settlement with the insurance company.
Negotiating With the Insurance Company
You do not have to file a lawsuit against the driver who hit your motorcycle and caused your injuries. You have the right to try to negotiate with the insurance company on your own or with the help of a personal injury attorney without filing a lawsuit or without having to go to court.
If you can reach a settlement with the insurer before the two-year deadline passes, then the statute of limitations never applies to your case.
What often happens is an insurance company will contact you directly soon after the accident, seeking to start negotiations. This is especially common if the insurer is admitting fault for the crash on the part of its driver. You can start negotiations yourself, or you could try to hire legal representation to negotiate for you at any point along the way.
Filing a Lawsuit After Your Accident
If you cannot reach a settlement through negotiations, you would need to file a lawsuit to try to receive the damages you deserve to have after your injury accident. If the lawsuit goes to trial, you and your attorney will take on the insurance company and the driver in court.
To preserve your right to file a lawsuit, you must meet the two-year statute of limitations in Florida. This means you and your motorcycle crash attorney would need to make the formal filing of the lawsuit before the deadline.
It does not mean that you must appear in court or finish the case before the two-year statute of limitations passes. You just have to notify the defendant and the legal system that you are protecting your right to sue for damages related to your injuries. The statute of limitations also does not guarantee that any trial in your case would begin within that two-year window. Starting the trial phase could take quite a bit longer.
Reaching a Settlement in Your Case
As long as we meet the two-year deadline for filing a lawsuit, that’s the only time the statute of limitations applies. You and your attorney can continue to negotiate with the insurance company, trying to reach a settlement outside of court, even after filing the lawsuit.
Even if you file a lawsuit, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you will have to appear in court at a trial. If negotiations are successful, you and your attorney would simply withdraw the lawsuit. Filing the lawsuit doesn’t end your case. It just informs the defendant that you are protecting your right to sue in the future if the negotiations do not resolve the case.
Is There a Statute of Limitations If My Loved One Died in a Motorcycle Accident?
In an accident where a motorcycle rider dies in a crash that was the fault of another driver, the surviving family members have the right to seek damages under a claim, often with the help of wrongful death lawyers. These damages would compensate the family for wages the deceased family member would have earned, as well as for loss of companionship.
As with a motorcycle injury lawsuit where a victim is seeking damages for injuries, there is a Florida statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit. Under the law, family members have up to two years from the date of their loved one’s death to file the lawsuit.
For Help With Understanding How the Statute of Limitations Affects Your Motorcycle Crash Case, Ask Dave
Do not risk becoming ineligible for filing a lawsuit regarding the injuries you suffered in your motorcycle crash by missing the deadline specified in Florida Statute § 627.70132. By hiring the team at Dismuke Law, you can be certain we will precisely follow all aspects of this statute, continuing to give you a chance to win the damages you deserve.
For help with your motorcycle accident claim, reach out to our team today for a free consultation.