What Is the Car Accident Statute of Limitations in Florida?

Your right to file a Florida car accident lawsuit hinges on your compliance with the statute of limitations.

By , J.D. · University of San Francisco School of Law
After any kind of car accident in Florida, the statute of limitations could come into play if there's an injury claim filed over the crash. So it's crucial to understand how the lawsuit filing deadlines set by these laws work, and what happens if you don't meet the deadline.

What Is a "Statute of Limitations"?

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.

What Statute of Limitations Might Apply to a Florida Car Accident Case?

In Florida, the statute of limitations that applies to a vehicle accident case depends on what the person bringing the lawsuit (the plaintiff) is suing over.

Lawsuits over injuries suffered in a traffic accident—whether brought by a driver, passenger, motorcyclist, bicyclist, electric scooter rider, or pedestrian—must be filed within two years of the date of the crash, according to Florida Statutes section 95.11(4)(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.

A two-year deadline also applies if someone died as a result of the accident and their family or a representative of their estate wants to bring a wrongful death case against the at-fault driver. Florida Statutes section 95.11(4)(e).

A 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, under Florida Statutes section 95.11(3)(g). (Learn more about vehicle damage claims after a car accident.)

What If I Try to File My Florida Car Accident Lawsuit After the Deadline Has Passed?

The court will almost certainly refuse to consider your case in this situation, unless a rare exception applies to effectively extend or pause the running of the statute of limitations "clock" in Florida. For example, a longer time limit might apply if:

  • you lacked the proper legal capacity to make decisions for a certain amount of time of the car accident, or
  • the person who caused your accident left the state of Florida or took steps to conceal themselves within the state at some point after the crash, and before the lawsuit could be filed.

It's important to to leave yourself 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.

What If a Government Employee's Negligence Caused My Florida Car Accident?

If you were injured and/or had your vehicle damaged in an incident that was caused by the negligence of a government employee in Florida—for example, you were rear-ended by a city bus in Miami—you can't just file a lawsuit in court. Instead, you need to follow a special set of rules that act as something of a prerequisite to going to court. The process starts with a claim that lets the government know the details of what you're alleging. Learn more about making an injury claim against the government in Florida.

What's Next After a Florida Car Accident?

If you're looking for help beyond this article, it might make sense to discuss your situation (and your options) with an experienced legal professional. It's possible to handle a car accident claim on your own, if you're comfortable with the process and confident that you can fight it out for the best result. But there's usually no substitute for a lawyer's expertise, especially if your injuries are significant.

Learn more about how an attorney can help with your car accident claim. You can also get more details about Florida car accident laws that could affect your potential case.

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