How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Claim in Boca Raton, FL?

Every state has a statute of limitations. These statutes set the deadlines for filing a lawsuit in that state. The statutes usually set different deadlines based on the type of claim.

Thus, Florida sets a deadline of five years to file a lawsuit for breach of contract but a deadline of four years to file a lawsuit for negligence. So the answer to the basic question about the time to file a car accident claim in Boca Raton, FL, is four years. But this answer has several exceptions and caveats.

Here’s an overview of Florida laws that determine how long you have to file a car accident claim in Boca Raton.

Florida’s Statute of Limitations

When you file a lawsuit or insurance claim for a car accident, you will allege negligence. Specifically, you will allege that the other driver failed to exercise reasonable care while driving and as a result, caused the accident that injured you.

Florida gives you four years to file a lawsuit based on negligence. The four-year period starts accruing when the last element of the cause of action occurs. In most cases, the claim for a car accident accrues on the date of the accident. On that date, the at-fault driver committed the negligent act, and you suffered damages as a result (the last element).

One exception is when you have a hidden injury that appears long after the accident. When this happens, your four years begin on the day you discovered or reasonably should have discovered the injury.

For example, one injury that takes time to manifest is a concussion. Concussion symptoms appear when your brain swells after an accident, but the swelling can take days to get bad enough to produce symptoms. 

If you felt fine after your accident but only discovered your concussion a few days later, your statutory period does not start until a few days after your accident.

Another exception is when accident victims die from their injuries days, weeks, months, or even years after their accidents. When the victim dies, the victim’s family can file a claim for wrongful death. The four years to file a claim for wrongful death from a car accident begins on the day the victim died, not the day of the accident.

Florida’s Tolling Provisions

Under certain situations, Florida law pauses or tolls the statute of limitations. These tolling provisions usually happen when the accident victim cannot legally file a lawsuit or reach the at-fault party. 

As a result, Florida law pauses the statute until the accident victim has both the legal capacity to file the lawsuit and the ability to reach the at-fault party to respond.

Examples of circumstances where the statute of limitations can be tolled include:

  • The at-fault party leaves Florida, hides from the accident victim, or uses a false name to dodge service of process
  • The accident victim is mentally incapacitated
  • The accident victim is under 18 years old and they have no parent or guardian who can sue on their behalf

In the case of the last two circumstances, Florida only tolls the statute of limitations for three years. This gives the accident victim seven years from the accident to file a lawsuit.

Meeting the Deadline

You can only satisfy the statute of limitations by filing a lawsuit. Filing an insurance claim will not satisfy the deadline. And you cannot extend the deadline by entering into an agreement with the at-fault party.

If you file a lawsuit after the deadline and none of the tolling provisions apply, a judge must dismiss your case. The judge has no discretion to allow you to proceed with your lawsuit. To avoid this harsh outcome, you should speak to a Boca Raton car accident lawyer soon after your accident to discuss your statutory deadline for filing a lawsuit.

Contact Our Car Accident Law Firm in South Florida

If you’ve been injured in an accident, please contact our experienced personal injury lawyers in Florida at Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers to schedule a free consultation today. We have three convenient locations in Boca Raton, Fort Lauderdale, and West Palm Beach.

We proudly serve Palm Beach County, Broward County, and its surrounding areas:

Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers – Boca Raton Law Office
7000 W Palmetto Park Rd #500
Boca Raton, FL 33433
(561) 347-7770

Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers – Fort Lauderdale Law Office
200 S.E. 6th Street #203
Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
(954) 287-0566

Hollander Law Firm Accident Injury Lawyers – West Palm Beach Law Office
319 Clematis St #203
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
(561) 556-7873