What is the Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Florida?
First, for those who may not be fluent in “legalese”, let’s back up and explain that a “statute of limitations” is a state law that sets a limit on the amount of time you have to go to court and file a lawsuit. Each state has different deadlines -- measured in years -- that vary based on the kind of harm or loss that was suffered.
In Florida, the time limit that applies to a vehicle accident case depends on whether the crash resulted in injury or in death.
If anyone was injured in the crash -- whether a driver, passenger, motorcycle rider, bicyclist, or pedestrian -- they must get their lawsuit filed within four years of the date of the accident, according to Florida Statutes section 95.11(3)(a). Most of these cases are based on the legal argument that the negligence of one or more drivers ended up causing the accident and the claimant’s resulting injuries. Learn more about Car Accidents Caused by Negligence.
The same four-year filing deadline applies to any lawsuit you want to file over damage to (or total loss of) your vehicle as a result of the accident. (Learn more about Vehicle Damage Claims.)
But if someone died as a result of the accident and their family wants to bring a wrongful death case against the at-fault driver, that lawsuit must be filed within two years, and the “clock” starts on the date of the person’s death, if it is different from the date of the accident. That deadline is set by Florida Statutes section 95.11(4)(d).
What happens if you try to file your lawsuit after the two- or four-year deadline has passed? The court will almost certainly refuse to consider your case in that situation. That’s why it’s so important to understand the filing deadline and how it applies to your potential lawsuit.
One last note: You want to make sure you have plenty of time to file a car accident lawsuit, even if you’re confident that your case will be resolved through the insurance claim process. At the very least, that strategy will give you more leverage during settlement talks. If the filing deadline is approaching, it may be time to contact an experienced Florida car accident attorney to talk about your options.
by: David Goguen, J.D.