Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Can You Always File a Lawsuit After a Car Accident?

There are many ways to resolve a legal dispute. Arbitration, mediation, and other forms of alternative dispute resolution can lead to a faster (and more cost-effective) resolution. However, when these alternative methods don’t result in a satisfactory settlement, it is important that injury victims retain the right to file a lawsuit. This gives both sides incentive to negotiate fairly. It also protects the injury victim’s right to seek fair compensation through the court system. If you or a loved one has been injured in any type of auto accident, contact the Dolman Law Group as soon as possible. Our experienced auto accident attorneys will fight hard to protect your right to file a lawsuit, make your case as strong as possible, and secure the compensation you deserve.

There are many legal barriers that can prevent a plaintiff from filing a lawsuit. Learn more about some of the more common problems and what injury victims can do to avoid them.

Statutes of Limitations

A statute of limitations is a law which helps facilitate the timely filing of lawsuits by prohibiting claims from being filed after a specified length of time. Thus, injury victims can lose their right to compensation entirely if they do not file a lawsuit within the statute of limitations. The statute of limitations that applies to a particular case depends on the type of claim which is being filed. In Florida, a lawsuit based on negligence must be filed within four years from the time the plaintiff learns (or should have learned) of the negligent actions (see Florida Statutes Chapter 95.11(3)). Negligence actions cover a wide array of civil claims, including car accident cases, dog bite cases, premises liability for slip and fall cases, birth injuries, products liability, wrongful death, workplace injuries, and many more.

Binding Arbitration Agreements

An increasingly popular legal tool used by large companies is a binding arbitration agreement. Before a customer can purchase services, she must sign an agreement to submit any legal disputes to arbitration, rather than filing a lawsuit. Binding arbitration makes the arbitrator’s judgment final. The judgment generally cannot be appealed through the court system. Binding arbitration agreements are particularly common with service providers such as assisted living and nursing facilities, credit card companies, mobile service carriers, and other large companies that provide services directly to consumers. Insurance companies are largely restricted from using such arbitration agreements. Car accident victims, therefore, are usually not prohibited from filing a lawsuit on the basis of a binding arbitration agreement. Nonetheless, an injury victim may be impacted by an arbitration agreement with a medical provider, supplemental insurance carriers, vehicle repair shops, and other such service providers.

Notice of Claim Requirement

When a plaintiff has a legal claim against the State of Florida, he must present the claim in writing to the Department of Financial Services to preserve the right to file a lawsuit against the state. This requirement is separate from the statute of limitations. The notice of claim must usually be submitted prior to the expiration of the statute of limitations. Section 768.28 of the Florida Statutes sets forth the requirements and deadlines for filing a notice of claim for actions against the state.

There are many ways a car accident injury victim may obtain a legal claim against the state. For example, the state may be liable for failing to maintain roads in safe conditions. The express lanes on the I-95 have been the subject of many such lawsuits. In general, these lawsuits allege that the state failed to adequately maintain the lanes and that this failure led to an unsafe condition that caused the car accident (and that in turn caused the victim’s injuries).

This is what happened to Cynthia Fleischmann, a motorcyclist who lost her leg after a particularly gruesome accident in the I-95 express lanes just south of 103rd Street. The Miami New Times reports that a Toyota Corolla plowed through a gap in the pylons separating the regular lanes from express lanes, attempting to quickly jump into the express lanes. Instead, it crashed into two motorcycles, which were both destroyed in the accident. Both motorcyclists sued the Florida Department of Transportation, alleging that it failed to properly maintain, repair and replace the divider pylons, which encouraged “lane diving” behavior such as that of the Corolla’s driver.

In a similar lawsuit, a pregnant woman suffered permanent injuries when another driver illegally crossed through the divider pylon in an attempt to quickly make the next exit. The express lane driver crashed into the pregnant driver, Stephanie Blossom, who then crashed into a retaining wall. Both Blossom and her baby survived, but she required several surgeries for leg injuries that will be permanent.

Express lanes have, in fact, become so dangerous and unpopular that one Florida state senator has proposed a ban on express lanes throughout the state. According to the Miami New Times, Sen. Frank Artiles claims that “express lanes are unsafe, inefficient, and add an unnecessary burden for all users.” This is supported by reports that the Florida Department of Transportation spends $1 million every year simply replacing worn divider pylons. Such costs consume all profits from the express lane tolls collected. Instead of being invested in useful community projects, the tolls simply pay to wage a futile battle against repairing the express lanes again and again.

The Right Attorneys for Your Auto Accident Claim

Auto accident victims have legal rights under Florida law, and the attorneys at the Dolman Law Group have decades of experience in protecting these rights. Learn why injury victims in and
around the Clearwater area trust our personal injury attorneys to protect their legal interests during a difficult and critical time. Call (727) 451-6900 or contact us online to schedule your free consultation with a personal injury attorney today. Our highly experienced attorneys will negotiate or litigate your case as necessary to protect your legal rights.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765
(727) 451-6900


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