Being involved in an accident where the other driver flees the scene is an unsettling experience with many questions about the next steps. One important consideration for victims is understanding the statute of limitations for filing a legal claim after a hit and run.
The statute of limitations is the timeframe within which a person must take legal action or will lose the ability to do so. In the state of Florida, the statute of limitations for pursuing a personal injury lawsuit stemming from a hit and run accident is two years from the date of the crash.
If you were injured in a hit and run, you should consult with a car accident attorney in Floridaand file a lawsuit before that two-year deadline passes. Missing this cutoff could mean losing the opportunity to seek compensation through the legal system. A lawyer from our firm can inform you about how these statutes – and others – apply to your potential case.
Seeking Medical Treatment and Gathering Evidence
Even if a hit and run accident seems minor initially, it’s important to seek medical attention right away to document any injuries properly. Seeing a doctor establishes an injury occurred and starts a treatment record. Photos should also be taken of any visible injuries or vehicle damage. Keep all medical records and bills in a safe place for your case.
Obtaining accident reports is also crucial as law enforcement can document details like the crash location and your condition and begin investigating to identify the at-fault driver. Eyewitnesses should also be identified and their contact information recorded in case they need to provide a statement later.
Cell phone photos or videos of the accident scene taken right after the accident by yourself or others can further support your account of what happened. A Florida personal injury lawyer can provide important legal guidance in the moments after a crash, so do not hesitate to reach out to an attorney immediately.
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Hit-and-Run Accident Cases May Take Longer Than Your Average Car Accident Case
Victims of hit-and-run accidents may feel more pressed for time when seeking compensation. It can take a while for the police to identify the other driver, if they even can. This can delay the claims process as adjusters struggle to determine liability for the accident.
Regardless of these potential delays, the statute of limitations still applies. You can protect your right to collect compensatory damages by starting work on your case as soon as possible.
Why It Is Important to Begin the Claims Process as Soon as Possible
It’s important to remember this if you are in an accident so you have enough time to decide if you want to pursue a case later on. Generally, injured parties have two years from the date of the accident in which they can file a lawsuit. After two years, any attempt to legally seek compensation may be denied by the courts.
Given the nature of auto accidents, sometimes survivors may experience delayed effects of injuries or complications that arise only weeks or months after their initial recovery. Even if an injury appears minor at first, it could worsen over time and result in costly medical bills or disability.
That is why it is essential to begin crafting your case as soon as possible following a hit and run accident. If symptoms worsen and proof can no longer be obtained due to the passage of time, then certain suffering individuals may find themselves without recourse for financial damages due to missed deadlines.
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What to Do If the At-Fault Driver Is Later Identified
Ideally, law enforcement is able to track down the hit and run driver responsible using evidence from the crash scene and vehicle debris. If they are identified within the two-year statute of limitations, you can name them as the defendant in your personal injury lawsuit.
Your attorney will send a letter of representation to the driver and their insurance provider to put them on notice of your intent to seek damages. Negotiations may commence toward a settlement. If no resolution is reached, the case proceeds to litigation, where a civil trial will determine fault and damages owed.
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Are There any Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations for a Hit and Run Accident in the State of Florida?
The statute of limitations provides a strict timeline for filing various types of lawsuits and other legal matters. However, in some cases, there are certain exceptions that could extend the filing deadline. According toFlorida Statutes § 95.051, some examples of these exceptions include:
- Situations where the at-fault driver concealed their identity
- When the negligent party fled the state
- For those under 18 years old who have suffered some form of harm due to another’s negligence
A thorough examination should be conducted to determine if any of these exceptions may apply in your particular situation. A knowledgeable Florida car accident lawyer can help you study all elements and facts relevant to your case and decide whether an extension could apply to your case.
Potential Injuries from a Hit and Run Accident that You May Be Suffering
Hit and run accidents can cause severe, life-threatening injuries. When a driver leaves the scene of an accident, their victims may be incapacitated and unable to call for help. A serious injury could worsen by the time help arrives.
Some injuries that may occur from a hit-and-run accident include:
- Whiplash, which could be the result of rear-end collisions
- Harm to internal organs
- Broken bones
- Internal bleeding
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
Drivers should always stay at the scene of an accident and call the police immediately, especially if someone is hurt. They have a chance to save someone’s life by doing so. There is no excuse for putting a fellow motorist or pedestrian in more danger by fleeing the scene.
Possible Compensation that You Could Recover
The types of compensation that you may recover depend on the type of action you bring when pursuing your claim.
An Insurance Claim
Your personal injury protection (PIP) policy may generally pay for property damage, some portion of lost wages, and medical costs. If you have uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, you may be able to seek more compensation from the insurance companies.
A Personal Injury Claim
If you can identify the other driver, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against them. You could collect compensation for the above losses, as well as:
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Other non-economic losses
A lawyer from our firm can apply a dollar amount to the losses in your accident claim.
A Wrongful Death Lawsuit
A wrongful death lawsuit may yield coverage for losses such as:
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of inheritance for the income your loved one provided
- Your loved one’s medical expenses
- Your loved one’s pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium for the companionship your loved one offered
No amount of financial compensation can replace your family member, but it can help you adjust in their absence.
Contact a Florida Car Accident Lawyer to Learn More About Legal Options After a Hit and Run Accident
Being involved in a hit and run accident can be a stressful experience made more difficult by unfamiliar legal procedures and timelines. At Chalik and Chalik, our experienced personal injury lawyers are committed to guiding you through every step of protecting your rights and pursuing fair compensation.
We understand that injuries from accidents can have long-lasting physical and financial impacts. Our legal team will work diligently within the statute of limitations to build a strong case on your behalf.
Whether pursuing the at-fault party, negotiating with insurance, or going before a judge, our goal is to fight for maximum compensation on your behalf. If you or a loved one have been harmed in a hit and run crash in Florida, do not hesitate tocontact us for a free consultation. We are here to help you find the justice and support you need.
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