What Is the Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Injury and Loss Claims in Florida?
Since Florida is a no-fault insurance state, most car accident claims are handled under your PIP insurance coverage. However, there are instances when you may be able to file a car accident lawsuit against the other driver or another third party.
Under Florida’s statute of limitations (§95.11 Fla. Stat. 2016), you have four (4) years from the date of your car crash to file your lawsuit. Accidents involving wrongful death, uninsured or underinsured insurance claim, or claims against a government entity have different deadlines.
Determining the deadline to file a lawsuit can be complex because there are some limited exceptions to the rule. Our Florida car accident attorneys are highly trained and well versed in Florida’s personal injury laws. Don’t allow your claim to be denied for failing to file a timely lawsuit.
Exceptions to Florida’s Deadline to File a Car Crash Lawsuit
There are some limited exceptions to the deadline to file a lawsuit for a motor vehicle accident. If you are filing a wrongful death lawsuit, you have two (2) years from the date of death to file the complaint. For claims involving your uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage, Florida law allows five (5) years from the date of the traffic accident to file a complaint.
An important exception to the rule involves claims against government entities. If you are suing the state of Florida you have three (3) years to file a lawsuit, but you must also file a notice of claim within three (3) years, or you lose your right to sue. Failing to file a notice of claim with the correct governmental entities within three years from the date of a car accident will result in the lawsuit being denied.
In addition to filing your claim notice with the government entity you intend to sue, you must also file a claim with the Florida Department of Financial Services. The notice must contain specific information related to the motor vehicle accident. While you can draft a notice on your own, it may be wiser to use the pre-printed claim forms available on the department’s website. Claims should be filed with the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Risk Management, 200 E. Gaines Street, Tallahassee, Florida 32399-0338.
Keep a copy of the claim form you send to the specific governmental entity and the claim form you file with the Department of Financial Services.
Stopping the Statute of Limitations
In very specific circumstances, you can “toll” or temporarily stop the time from moving forward for filing a car crash lawsuit under the statute of limitations. For example, if a defendant (the person the lawsuit is against) is out of state, the deadline may be extended. Another example is if the defendant is hiding to avoid being served with the papers.
Other reasons to toll the deadline include:
- The victim is a minor who does not have a parent or guardian to bring a lawsuit on his or her behalf
- The defendant is using a false name to avoid service of papers
- The victim was incapacitated before the cause of action accrued
Calculating the deadline to file a complaint for a traffic accident can be complicated. Factors can shorten or lengthen the time to file suit. Hiring a Florida personal injury attorney as soon as possible after a collision is a wise decision. Your attorney will monitor all deadlines to ensure your case moves forward.
In addition, do not wait until the last minute to consult with an attorney. It is always best to investigate a claim as early as possible before evidence disappears and memories fade. Give your attorney as much time as possible to build a persuasive case for maximum compensation.