Being involved in an accident is always difficult, but shock and adrenaline sometimes mask the signs and symptoms of a serious injury. Some injuries may remain latent for months, or even years, and if that happens, you may need help from an Orlando personal injury lawyer
What kinds of personal injuries are most likely to be latent injuries? If you were injured by someone who was negligent, but the injury is not discovered for several weeks or months, will you still be able to take legal action – and can you be compensated?
If you’ll continue reading, you will learn the answers to those questions, and you will also learn what steps you should take if your injury was caused by another person’s negligence and you need to seek compensation.
WHAT ARE THE MOST COMMON DELAYED OR LATENT INJURIES?
Any injury has the potential to go unnoticed for weeks, months, and in some cases, years, but the most common personal injuries that do not show up right away include head, leg, ankle, neck, and back injuries.
1. Head injuries: Concussions are among the most common injuries that are hard to detect. The symptoms of a concussion may show up immediately, in just a few hours, or even several days after a head injury.
2. Leg and ankle injuries: Leg and ankle injuries may be caused by slipping or tripping, but you may feel no pain and may not be aware of serious damage. Torn ligaments can stay latent for weeks, and you may accidentally cause even more damage during that time.
3. Back and neck injuries: Many people’s backs and necks are often tight or sore, so you may not notice an injury there. Whether it’s a whiplash injury or severe spinal cord damage, back and neck injuries can cause serious long-term medical conditions.
HOW LONG DO YOU HAVE TO FILE A PERSONAL INJURY CLAIM?
Statutes of limitations are deadlines for taking legal action, and every state has a statute of limitations for filing a personal injury claim. Once this legal deadline has passed, a personal injury claim may not be filed.
The State of Florida offers one of the most generous statutes of limitations for the injured victims of negligence. They have four years from the date they were injured to bring a personal injury claim.
WHAT IS FLORIDA’S 14-DAY RULE?
But if you were injured in a traffic crash by a negligent driver, there’s a more urgent deadline you need to know about. That is Florida’s 14-day rule.
Under Florida’s no-fault auto insurance system, when personal injury protection (PIP) policyholders are injured in traffic accidents, the first $10,000 of damages is supposed to be covered by the injury victim’s own PIP policy without regard to which motorist was at-fault.
But if you do not undergo a medical examination within 14 days of a traffic accident, your automobile insurance company may not be required to compensate you, and it may reject any subsequent injury claim that you file.
HAVE A MEDICAL EXAMINATION IMMEDIATELY
Don’t wait even 14 days to be examined. Left undiscovered and untreated, a latent or hard-to-detect injury can emerge – days or even weeks later – as a serious medical condition.
This cannot be stressed strongly enough. You must obtain a medical examination, if it’s at all possible, within 24 hours of any accident, even if you do not “feel” injured.
ARE THERE ANY EXCEPTIONS TO THE FOUR-YEAR DEADLINE?
The exceptions to Florida’s four-year statute of limitations are narrow and rare. If you were legally incapacitated – comatose or temporarily mentally ill – the deadline may be extended from four to seven years.
The deadline may also be extended if the person who injured you left the state or took steps to conceal his or her presence in Florida – by using an alias, for example – to prevent the legal process from moving forward.
Additionally, the deadline may be extended if the injured victim of negligence was less than eight years of age when he or she was injured.
WHAT IF YOU WERE INJURED BY MEDICAL MALPRACTICE?
There is a different statute of limitations for cases arising from incidents of medical malpractice.
Florida gives medical malpractice victims two years to take legal action from the date that a medical malpractice-related injury was discovered – or should have been discovered – by healthcare professionals.
That’s good news for medical malpractice victims, because the injuries caused by medical malpractice are frequently injuries that can go undiscovered for a substantial length of time.
WHAT’S IMPORTANT TO REMEMBER?
Here’s what is important to remember. If you are the victim of a latent or delayed injury caused by another person’s negligence, your right to seek compensation hinges on how quickly you act.
Once the statute of limitations for your case has expired, you cannot pursue a personal injury or medical malpractice claim, and you will have to pay for your own medical expenses without compensation.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO WHEN A LATENT INJURY IS DISCOVERED?
Every personal injury case is different, so if you have sustained an injury because another party was negligent, you are going to need the sound, personalized legal advice that an Orlando personal injury lawyer will provide.
Everyone is a potential victim of negligence. You could be injured by a negligent driver in traffic or while you’re simply strolling down the sidewalk. You could be injured by a defective power tool or household appliance. A neighbor’s dog could bite you and cause a severe injury.
HOW WILL AN ATTORNEY HELP?
As soon as you’ve had a medical exam, or as soon as a latent injury is discovered, arrange to discuss your legal rights and options with a central Florida personal injury attorney. Your first legal consultation is free, and there’s no obligation.
If you and your attorney agree to move forward with a personal injury claim, you will pay no attorney’s fees until and unless you are compensated with an out-of-court settlement or a jury verdict. Most personal injury claims are settled in private, out-of-court negotiations.
However, if no reasonable settlement offer is forthcoming in those negotiations, your attorney will probably recommend taking the case to trial and asking a jury to award the compensation that you are entitled to by law.
After any accident, have a medical examination at once. Then contact an injury lawyer who is both a skilled negotiator and an experienced trial attorney. That is your right, and if you’ve been injured because another person was negligent, the law in Florida will be on your side.