The law is full of important time limits and deadlines, and if you are not careful you can permanently damage your personal injury case due to lack of timeliness. It is vitally important that you contact a lawyer as soon as you are able, ideally a firm that is experienced in slip and fall practice and handles all types of personal injury cases. However, there are some basic questions that people often have about such cases, and since these accidents can be such time-sensitive matters, the following is a guide on timing in a slip and fall or similar personal injury case.
How Long Do You Have to Go to the Doctor After a Slip and Fall?
This is perhaps the most frequently asked question regarding slip and fall case. People have heard about treatment deadlines in other contexts, such as auto accident cases, and wonder if similar requirements might apply in a slip and fall case. There is no formal deadline for obtaining medical treatment in a Florida case. However, the statute of limitations still applies. Conversely, in other personal injury cases, such as auto accidents, there are deadlines such as the 14-Day Rule (you must seek accident-injury related treatment within 14 days of the accident to maintain eligibility for PIP).
In slip and fall cases (and in premises liability cases, in general), there is no formal time limit within which treatment must be rendered for a valid legal claim. Pay close attention to these words, though. While there is no formal time limit on when you must see a doctor after your injury, the statute of limitations still applies to your legal claim overall.
For premises liability cases (the parent category within which slip and fall cases are a subset), the statute of limitations in Florida is four years. This means that you have four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the offending party. Make no mistake, however: this does not mean that you may wait four years to seek treatment for your injuries. You have four years to file the lawsuit, which means you will want the foundation of your case to be already developed well before that.
For best results, if you are injured in a slip and fall or trip and fall accident (or you are hurt in any other way on someone else’s property), you should immediately seek legal counsel to determine next steps. Generally speaking, if you are injured and you believe you require (or will require at some later point) medical treatment for your injuries, you should visit a doctor sooner rather than later. Ideally, you would schedule your first doctor’s visit within 72 hours of the date of injury. If that time has already passed, then it is critical that you seek treatment at the next earliest possibility.
The reason for the time sensitivity in treatment is simple: preservation and validation of evidence. When you are injured through no fault of your own and decide to pursue a personal injury case, your injuries themselves become evidence within the case. If you wait too long to seek treatment, you risk two possible outcomes. Your injuries could begin to heal before you reach the doctor, and your medical records have a suboptimal assessment of your accident-related injuries. Alternately, even if the injuries are severe enough to where the doctor can document them at a later date, a large gap or lapse in treatment significantly weakens the emotional impact of your case because it looks like the injuries were not actually impactful if you could wait so long for treatment. Insurance companies know this and will knock down the value of your case if they detect large gaps in your medical treatment.
How Long Do Slip and Fall Settlements Take?
Slip and fall settlements, on average, take longer than most other personal injury settlements. It is a frustrating reality, but one that must be acknowledged and anticipated.F lorida slip and fall settlements take a long time because, for the most part, they almost always require filing suit. Though slip and fall cases fall within the category of personal injury cases, they are unique in nature and fundamentally different than other personal injury cases, such as car accidents. This is because unlike car accidents, liability is rarely clear cut in premises cases.
In the absence of a police report (which often is not standard as it would be in the case of a car accident), establishing fault among the parties often becomes an issue of “he said, she said.” Therefore, the only way to sift through the parties’ allegations and find out the actual truth is to file a lawsuit and compel formal answers to the important questions through discovery.
How Long Do You Have to Report a Slip and Fall?
It depends on how reporting is defined. If you are asking how long you have to report the incident to the store manager and/or property owner, the practical answer is that the incident should be reported immediately after its occurrence. Therefore, if you have not done so already, you should report an accident as soon as possible to the business manager and/or owner. Documentation is key, particularly in slip and fall cases where there may not be a police report or other obvious evidence.
If the question is how long you have to file a slip and fall claim, the answer is that slip and fall cases are ultimately personal injury cases, so they have a four-year statute of limitations, as mentioned previously. Thus, you would have four years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit for your injuries.
How Long after a Slip and Fall Can You File a Suit?
The deadline for suing on a slip and fall case is governed by Fla. Stat. § 95.11(3)(a), which provides that the Florida slip and fall statute of limitations is four years. This means that any lawsuit you plan on filing must be stamped with a filing date of less than four years from the day of your accident. Accordingly, the date on which you discover your injuries from the accident does not matter.
For example, let’s say you are in a trip and fall accident and suffer injuries. Assume the pain from these injuries is minor at first, but after one year’s time, the pain is unbearable and you wish to pursue a claim. If you decide to pursue your claim, you still only have three years to file your lawsuit. In other words, the statute of limitations is based on the date of your accident, not on any other date thereafter.
As you have probably gathered by now, Florida slip and fall cases are complicated in nature and difficult to structure. If you or a loved one were injured in a slip and fall accident, trip and fall accident, or any other accident on a business’s property, parking lot, and/or common area, contact Law Offices of Kirshner, Groff, and Diaz right away to speak directly to a real attorney to learn more about how to best pursue your slip and fall case. All initial consultations are no-obligation, and our experienced team will work to get you the maximum compensation to which you are entitled for your situation.