Legal matters don't seem pressing in the weeks following a Pensacola traffic collision. A victim's recovery or a family's grief takes precedence, even as law enforcers work to uncover the cause of a car accident.
Crash investigations can take a long time, but Florida laws set a timeline for the filing of personal injury and wrongful death claims. The statute of limitations on liability lawsuits isn't meant to frustrate victims. Time tends to blur what victims, defendants and witnesses remember about accident events. Constraints are intended to prevent the deterioration of proof, not deprive victims of rightful compensation.
Jacksonville police are still investigating a June fatality that took the life of a 45-year-old father of two. The attorney's Volvo was struck while sitting in a line of traffic. The 44-year-old SUV driver who caused the crash is free, as authorities decide whether citations should be issued or charges filed.
The woman's driving history contains multiple serious traffic violations starting in the mid-1980s, including careless driving and speeding. State law gives Jacksonville authorities a year or longer from the time of an alleged offense to prepare a criminal case.
A veteran homicide investigator said 75 percent of Florida fatal crash investigations are finished within three months. Probes can take more time, depending on the volume of evidence and complexity of the accident. Lab tests for blood alcohol content are due within 40 days, but additional drug testing is allowed to take twice as long to process.
Most personal injury claims in Florida must be filed within four years of an accident date. The limit for wrongful death claims is two years. Exceptions to the rules extend the filing deadline; however, when a police report is delayed or a victim's recovery is slow, even added time can pass quickly. A missed filing date can end any chances for a victim to claim damages.
members.jacksonville.com, "Process lengthy for traffic fatalities; investigators need time, but wait painful for families" Dana Treen, Oct. 26, 2013