What is the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations in Florida?

Here are the lawsuit filing deadlines for the most common kinds of Florida personal injury cases, situations when the deadline might be extended, and what happens to your case if the statute of limitations runs out.

By , J.D. · University of San Francisco School of Law
Updated by Dan Ray, Attorney · University of Missouri–Kansas City School of Law

A "statute of limitations" is a law that limits your time to file a lawsuit in court. Miss the filing deadline and, barring an extension that gives you more time, your claim is dead. Nothing you do will bring it back to life. It's a harsh result, especially if you've been badly injured and were counting on getting compensation to pay medical bills, replace lost income, and more.

So, when you've been hurt by someone else's wrongdoing, one of the first things you need to know is: How long do I have to sue? Florida has different statutes of limitations for different kinds personal injury (PI) lawsuits. We begin with a look at the state's two-year general rule, along with some other deadlines that apply in specific kinds of cases. In a few circumstances, Florida law extends the filing deadline, giving you more time to sue. We'll show you some examples.

We close with a more in-depth discussion of what happens if you miss the filing deadline. Spoiler alert: Nothing good.

Florida's Personal Injury General Rule: Two Years From Date of Injury

As a general rule, you have two years—usually from the date you were hurt—to file a personal injury lawsuit in court. (Fla. Stat. § 95.11(4) (2024).) Here's a partial listing of the PI cases covered by this two-year deadline.


When the defendant (the party you're suing) acts carelessly and causes you an injury, the law calls that behavior "negligence." Florida's two-year general rule covers lawsuits over personal injuries caused by negligence, such as:

In most cases, the deadline clock starts running when you're injured. (Fla. Stat. § 95.11(4)(a) (2024).)

(Learn more about Florida's dog-bite and slip-and-fall laws.)

Medical Malpractice

Special rules apply to Florida medical malpractice lawsuits. You still have two years to file in court, but Florida's "discovery rule" applies. Instead of starting on the date you were injured, the two-year clock begins running on the earlier of the date you:

  • discover the malpractice, or
  • should have discovered it, had you been reasonably diligent to look for signs and symptoms of an injury.

While the discovery rule might give you more time to sue, there's a catch. Florida has a second deadline, called a "statute of repose," that limits the time you have to discover your injury. The statute of repose says that the latest you can file a medical malpractice lawsuit is four years from the date of the malpractice. This four-year deadline applies regardless of when (or if) you discover that you were injured.

Different deadlines might apply when:

  • the injured patient is a very young child, or
  • a health care provider intentionally or fraudulently conceals an injured patient's injury.

(Fla. Stat. § 95.11(4)(c) (2024).)

Wrongful Death

Sometimes, personal injuries lead to death. Should that happen, the victim's family or estate might decide to sue. Florida's two-year filing deadline applies to these wrongful death lawsuits. The limitation period normally runs from the date of death. (Fla. Stat. § 95.11(4)(e) (2024).)


When your reputation is injured by someone who makes false written (libel) or spoken (slander) statements of fact about you, you can sue for "defamation of character." Under Fla. Stat. § 95.11(4)(h) (2024), you have two years to file your lawsuit.

(Here's more about Florida's defamation laws.)

Four-Year Filing Deadline for Intentional Injuries

Some personal injuries are caused by the defendant's purposeful or intentional misconduct. The law calls these "intentional torts." Fla. Stat. § 95.11(3)(n) (2024) puts a four-year deadline on intentional tort lawsuits, including those for:

Can Florida's Statutes of Limitations Deadlines Be Extended?

In some circumstances, Fla. Stat. § 95.051 (2024) delays or "tolls" (pauses) the limitation clock, giving you more time to file your lawsuit. Keep in mind that the examples we discuss are exceptions to the normal statute of limitations. It's up to you to convince the court that you're entitled to an extension.

Most often, the defendant will strongly oppose your request for more time. That's not a battle you want to fight alone. You should hire legal counsel to represent you and make your arguments to the judge.

Defendant Leaves Florida or Goes Into Hiding

Unsurprisingly, most defendants don't want to be sued for their misconduct. Some will take extreme measures to avoid a lawsuit, like fleeing the state or going into hiding. Florida law anticipates these shenanigans.

The statute of limitations doesn't run as to a defendant during any period that they:

  • are absent from Florida
  • assume a false name that's unknown to the plaintiff, or
  • hide while still in Florida.

(Fla. Stat. § 95.051(1)(a)-(c) (2024).)

But these extensions don't apply if the plaintiff is still able to "serve" the defendant with the lawsuit.

Plaintiff Is a Minor or Legally Incapacitated

Special rules apply when the plaintiff is:

  • a minor (younger than 18 years old), or
  • a person who's been found by a court to be legally incapacitated, meaning unable to manage their own affairs without help from a parent or guardian.

A minor or legally incapacitated person who suffers a personal injury likely gets more time to sue. But the filing deadline can't be extended by more than seven years from the date they were injured. Note that this exception doesn't apply in medical malpractice cases.

(Fla. Stat. § 95.051(1)(d), (i) (2024).)

What If You Miss the Filing Deadline?

So you think you've missed the statute of limitations deadline, or you're concerned that the limitation period is about to run out? Contact an experienced Florida personal injury lawyer, right away. You want to know:

  • what statute of limitations applies to your case
  • whether the filing deadline has passed, and
  • if the deadline has passed, whether the facts of your case might allow you to get an extension of time.

If time has run out and you're not eligible for an extension, there's nothing you can do. You no longer have a legal claim. Try to file a lawsuit and the defendant will ask the court to dismiss it. The court will grant that request. Worse still, the court might sanction (penalize) you for filing a frivolous case.

What if you're still trying to negotiate a settlement and haven't filed suit? You're still out of luck. Without the threat or prospect of a court case to back you up, you have no negotiating leverage. Neither the defendant nor their insurance company will take you or your case seriously. You can't force them to pay you anything, and they certainly aren't going to volunteer to write you a check.

Get Help With Your Statute of Limitations Questions

Navigating your way through statute of limitations questions without expert legal help is a bit like trying to find your way across a minefield while blindfolded. The cost of a mistake can be devastating, and you won't find out you've erred until its too late. Don't take a chance or risk guessing wrong. Speak to a lawyer who knows the rules and how to apply them.

When you're ready to move forward, here's how you can find a personal injury attorney near you.

Make the Most of Your Claim
Get the compensation you deserve.
We've helped 285 clients find attorneys today.
There was a problem with the submission. Please refresh the page and try again
Full Name is required
Email is required
Please enter a valid Email
Phone Number is required
Please enter a valid Phone Number
Zip Code is required
Please add a valid Zip Code
Please enter a valid Case Description
Description is required

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you