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How Long Do You Have to File a Lawsuit After a Truck Accident in Florida?

Some of the biggest menaces to traffic on Florida’s highways are commercial trucks. Large tractor trailers, big rigs, semis, and other variants of huge commercial vehicles make driving riskier and more stressful for the average motorist. This is especially true during the holiday season when product shipping demands are at their highest. In December, you shouldn’t be surprised to notice many, many more tractor trailers on the highways, heading in and out of warehouses and retail stores.

With roads and highways heavy with commercial trucks, it is only a matter of time until one of them causes an accident. In fact, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FHSMV), collisions with “medium/heavy trucks” accounted for more than 30,000 accidents on Florida roadways in 2017 alone.

Out of the heavy truck accidents in the FHSMV 2017 datasheet:

  • About 400 accidents caused serious injury
  • About 125 accidents caused a severe injury with disability
  • About 30 accidents caused at least one fatality

Lighter commercial trucks weighing under 10,000 pounds were also a persistent hazard on Florida roadways and highways in 2017. The FHSMV data suggests another 300 or so drivers and passengers were injured, disabled, or killed in collisions with this category of commercial trucks.

Have those people all been able to preserve their claim against the negligent truck driver or trucking company that contributed to their accident?

Florida’s Truck Accident Statute of Limitations

One of the most common reasons why people hurt in truck accidents do not receive compensation for their injuries is Florida’s statute of limitations law. Starting at the date of the truck accident, injured parties only have four years to file a personal injury lawsuit against the liable party. Once the four years are up, the claim will essentially be barred, because the time to file the lawsuit will have expired.

However, the statute of limitations can be reduced to just two years if you are filing a wrongful death lawsuit after losing a loved one in a trucking accident. The amount of time is reduced because you are technically not filing a trucking accident claim, but rather a wrongful death claim, which is governed by a different statute — 95.11(4)(d) for wrongful death and 95.11(3)(a) for other personal injury claims.

Truck Accident Claims are Not Lawsuits

It is important to understand that a trucking accident claim is not the same as a lawsuit. If you file an injury claim against the trucker or trucking company that caused your crash, you have begun the process of seeking compensation, which is good. But you have not filed an actual lawsuit, which means the clock on the statute of limitations is still ticking.

Deciding to file a lawsuit against the driver and owner of the truck that hit you is much different from filing a claim, too. The difference can be confusing to many and lead to the inability to receive compensation. Therefore, you need to be thoroughly prepared for the legal road ahead, which may very well culminate in litigation if the liable party acts stubbornly. It is always best to manage a claim or lawsuit with the assistance of a well-experienced personal injury attorney.

At Todd Miner Law in Orlando, we are led by expert Attorney Todd Miner, who has unique experience as an Assistant State Attorney working on traffic-related cases and as an insurance defense attorney. Today, the insight he gained in those positions becomes key for our clients who file truck and car accident claims. To see if we can help you after a trucking accident anywhere in Florida, call (407) 269-5877 at any time.

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