When Should You Sue for Personal Injury?

28Jun

If a liable party has caused an injury and other related damages due to negligence or malicious behavior, you may need to sue for personal injury as soon as possible to seek total compensation. Waiting too long to file a case could be detrimental to your ability to recover compensation and, if the statute of limitations passes, you may be entirely unable to pursue a case.

To determine the options available to you, call the attorneys at Magazine & Light Law Group at 727-499-9900 and schedule a free consultation.

Personal Injury Laws in Florida

According to Florida personal injury law, victims of injury accidents have the ability to file a claim or lawsuit against the individuals, governments, or businesses that caused the injury, whether through negligence or malicious intent to harm. Through these cases, plaintiffs can seek financial compensation for damages resulting from the wrongful conduct, often through the defendant’s insurer.

Specifically, victims may file personal injury lawsuits seeking various economic, non-economic, and punitive damages.

In addition to the general law regarding personal injury lawsuits in Florida, victims should consider other relevant laws in place around these cases, such as:

The Statute of Limitations

Under Florida law, all civil lawsuits have a statute of limitations in place dictating how long plaintiffs have to file before they can no longer sue a liable party or insurance company. The reason for this statute is to prevent lawsuits from involving deteriorated or absent evidence, as quality evidence is less likely to be available the longer a victim waits to file.

In Florida, the statute of limitations for personal injury is two years from the time of the injury or the discovery of an injury. However, this statute of limitations could be shorter if your case involves a government entity, leaving you with as little as six months to a year before you’re unable to sue for personal injury.

The statute of limitations could also be longer if you are a minor at the time of the injury or mentally incapacitated, or if the plaintiff is out of state or in prison.

In most cases, it’s in the plaintiff’s best interest to file a lawsuit for personal injury as soon as possible following the initial incident.

No-Fault Laws

Florida is a state with no-fault laws, meaning drivers must carry a certain amount of personal injury protection (PIP) insurance that pays for medical bills regardless of who was at fault for an accident. However, this insurance mainly applies to minor accidents that involve minimal injuries and property damage.

There are exceptions to these cases if someone suffers permanent, debilitating, or fatal injuries or disfigurement. In these instances, the financial and personal impact could be much greater, allowing for a third-party personal injury lawsuit.

To learn more about personal injury law in Florida, contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your case and the options available to you.

Signs That You Should Sue for Personal Injury

There are four elements you must prove to succeed with a personal injury case. These include:

  • That an Individual or Entity Owed a Duty of Care: The first item you must prove is that the defendant in your case owed you a duty of care. For instance, drivers have a duty to drive responsibly and safely to minimize the risk of accidents, and property owners have the duty of maintaining a safe environment for visitors and inhabitants.
  • That the Defendant Breached That Duty of Care: Another critical element you’ll need to show is that the defendant breached his or her duty of care. An example here could include a driver that drove intoxicated or distracted when he or she should have been aware of the dangers of doing so, leading to an accident.
  • That Breach of Duty Caused the Incident: You’ll also need to show that the defendant in your case, either through negligence or malicious intent, directly caused an accident and injuries.
  • The Incident Resulted in Quantifiable Damages: The final item you’ll need to show is that the incident culminated in various damages, including economic, non-economic, based on the extent of the injury and degree of negligence.

While Florida is among the states with the most injury cases per capita by 1,237%, not all cases will be successful if they can’t prove each of these elements. To better determine your chances of succeeding with a case, it’s in your best interest to get in touch with an experienced lawyer.

Steps to Take Before Filing a Lawsuit

If you have a valid personal injury case, there are some steps to take to build your case. So, what is the personal injury claim process, and what does it look like?

Seeking Medical Attention

If you sustain injuries after an accident of any kind, always seek professional medical care as soon as possible. The sooner you see a doctor, the sooner you can get a proper diagnosis and be on your way to recovery.

Also, seeking immediate medical attention can help prove that the accident caused your injury. Otherwise, insurers or defendants may be able to argue that too much time passed between the accident and injury diagnosis to prove that the accident was directly responsible.

In addition, you’ll be able to obtain valuable medical records that can serve as key pieces of evidence in your case when going forward.

Gathering Evidence

The next step will involve collecting as much evidence as possible to support your case, which could include the following:

  • Photos or video footage of your injuries and the accident scene, including personal images or CCTV footage
  • Medical records, bills, and receipts for everything from urgent care and diagnostics to ongoing care
  • Receipts for replacement of property or repairs
  • Witness statements from individuals present at the accident scene
  • Police reports
  • Expert witness testimony, which an attorney can help you obtain

If you are unable to recover any of this evidence on your own, you may get some help from an experienced personal injury attorney. He or she could connect with doctors, police, and others to collect all relevant evidence and organize it into a case.

Identify All Liable Parties

While many personal injury cases only involve one liable party, some could involve several. For instance, multiple drivers may have exhibited negligence and contributed to an accident. Meanwhile, a truck accident could result from poor maintenance, making mechanics or trucking companies potentially liable in addition to or instead of drivers.

Depending on the nature of your case, it can be challenging to identify these parties, which is another area where an attorney can help.

Consult a Personal Injury Lawyer

To file a personal injury claim against an insurance company or a liable party directly, the next step is to consult with a lawyer with experience handling personal injury cases similar to yours.

You might wonder, “Is it worth hiring a personal injury attorney?” In most cases, it could mean the difference between succeeding with a case and walking away without compensation. An attorney in this practice area could look closely at your case to determine what kind of chances you have to recover compensation from liable parties.

In the process, he or she can identify all liable parties involved, collect sufficient evidence supporting a claim or lawsuit, help you navigate the claims process, calculate the total settlement amount and fight for it, and represent you in court if your case goes to trial.

Going it alone in a personal injury case is never a good idea, especially if you don’t have experience in personal injury law, including laws in Florida and across the U.S. Having an attorney by your side can keep the process smoother and increase your chances of getting the compensation you need.

Another concern you might have is, “How much do personal injury lawyers charge?” Most personal injury lawyers charge a contingency fee, which means clients don’t need to pay unless the attorney successfully settles the case. The attorney takes this fee through a percentage of the settlement amount after closing the case. Consultations are also often free, meaning you don’t have to pay to sit with an attorney before hiring.

To learn about what kinds of options you have and whether you can sue for personal injury, reach out to the reputable Clearwater personal injury attorneys at Magazine & Light Law Group. Contact us online to schedule your free consultation.

Dram shop lawyer Jim Magazine
Jim Magazine

James (Jim) Magazine is a Florida Board Certified Civil Trial lawyer who has spent his career helping injured victims. Jim is licensed to practice law in the State of Florida since 1990 and is also admitted to practice at the Appellate level and admitted to the United States Supreme Court.

Years of Experience: More than 30 years
Florida Registration Status: Active
Bar Admissions:
Clearwater Bar Association
West Pasco Bar Association

James (Jim) Magazine is a Florida Board Certified Civil Trial lawyer who has spent his career helping injured victims. Jim is licensed to practice law in the State of Florida since 1990 and is also admitted to practice at the Appellate level and admitted to the United States Supreme Court.

Years of Experience: More than 30 years
Florida Registration Status: Active
Bar Admissions:
Clearwater Bar Association
West Pasco Bar Association