How Long Can You Sue After a Car Accident in Florida?

| Jan 27, 2023 | Firm News

If you’re from Florida and you have been injured in an accident, you might be wondering how long you could sue. Well, the first thing you should know is that you do not have forever to make your claim.

There are both practical limitations and Florida law’s formal limitations. You must pay attention to both limitation types to increase your chances of getting fair compensation. And perhaps most importantly, you need to get the help of an experienced personal injury lawyer in Tampa.

Let’s learn how long you have after an accident to sue in Florida:

Understanding the Statute of Limitations

That statute of limitations sets the time frame that allows you to file a formal lawsuit in a Florida court, after which, you won’t be able to do anything about it legally. If you try to file your claim after the deadline of the statute of limitations, the court will just scrap the case, unless there’s an exception that’s applicable. Note that even with certain exceptions, they’re often not applicable to most claimants.

The general bodily injury deadline is four years after the date of the accident or injury. If someone died in the said accident and you want to file a wrongful death lawsuit, there’s a two-year deadline after the date of the death. Note that for the wrongful death statute of limitations, the period starts on the date of the death and not the date of the accident.

Exceptions That Could Toll the Statute of Limitations Deadline in Florida

Consider the Florida car accident statute of limitations as something similar to a countdown clock. When that countdown hits zero, the deadline for the statute of limitations arrives, and any claim is deemed dead.

When the clock stops before the deadline arrives, the statute is tolled because of the application of an exception to the statute of limitations. You need to consult your Florida lawyer to determine whether there’s an applicable exception to the statute of limitations deadline to your case.

Claims Made Against the Government

In a lot of vehicular accident cases, you might have to file a lawsuit against the government to get full compensation. For instance, if the cause of the accident is poor road maintenance or a faulty traffic light, or if a vehicle driven by an on-duty government employee caused the accident, an exception can be made.

Here are certain deadlines in Florida and their description:

Lawsuit Against the Local Government or the State of Florida

You need to notify the local government or the relevant state agency and the Department of Financial Services of the claim you are making within three years of the accident or two years after the accident for cases of wrongful death claim. There is also a 180-day investigation period during which you won’t be allowed to file a lawsuit.

Lawsuits Against the Federal Government

For claims that are made against the federal government, there should be a written claim filed with the relevant federal agency within two years after the accident, whether or not the claim is for personal injury or wrongful death. If you are not satisfied with the decision of the agency, you have an additional six-month period to file a lawsuit. If within that period, the agency fails to make a decision, you can take it as a denial.

Why You Need to Sue Before the Expiration of the Statute of Limitations

Many people who file accident lawsuits do it before the statute of limitations expires for various reasons:

Claims Can Grow Stale

Personal injury claims can grow stale and become more difficult to win. Even if you do win a claim that has gone stale, you might not even get a value that’s close to your claim’s value. Because of this, you should file your claim as soon as possible.

Several factors can make a personal injury claim go stale, including witnesses’ memories becoming foggy, the possibility of them moving out of state or physical evidence getting lost or deteriorated.

Filing a Lawsuit Gives You Access to the Discovery Evidence Collection Process

This is another reason a car accident claimant might expedite a lawsuit. During the discovery process, one can demand evidence possessed by the other party or even a third party. If your request is denied, you may seek a court order compelling the party to provide the evidence. If they disobey the court order, numerous sanctions can be imposed.


If you have been involved in a car accident in Florida, you have four years from the date of the car accident to file a lawsuit. However, it is important to note that it is in your best interest to take legal action as soon as possible, as some evidence may become more difficult to collect over time. Additionally, the sooner you take legal action, the sooner you may receive any compensation to which you may be entitled. If you believe that you have a valid cause of action, it is best to contact an experienced personal injury attorney in Tampa as soon as possible to ensure that you do not miss your time limit.

Mendes, Reins & Wilander is a trusted firm that can provide you with the expertise of a seasoned personal injury lawyer in Tampa. If you’re filing a claim for a vehicular accident in Florida, schedule a consultation with Mendes, Reins & Wilander today!