What is the statute of limitations for boating accidents in Florida?

How long you have to file a boat accident claim is ultimately determined by the location of your accident because the location determines the applicable law. The deadline for a boat accident governed by Florida law is 4 years from the date of the accident. By contrast, boating accidents where the Admiralty law takes precedence need to be filed sooner, within 3 years. However, depending on the type of accident and the type of party you're claiming against, some boating accident claims have an even shorter deadline.


You escaped from a boating accident with serious injuries. It can happen to anyone.

Nothing can undo what's been done, but the one thing that can help you get through the trouble and move forward with your life is getting compensation from the negligent party.

Because personal injury compensation can help you cover some of the important losses you’ve suffered such as medical bills and lost wages.

However, you need to file your boat accident claim within the deadline set by the law for incidents that involve various types of vessels, such as:

In Florida, the deadline, or statute of limitations, for boat accident claims, depends on a number of circumstances, and the most important is the location of the accident, as this determines the applicable laws:

  • Florida state boating law or
  • Admiralty law

How long do you have to file a boating accident claim in Florida?

  1. Florida state boating law applies to waters that are contained within the state's boundaries. And there's a four-year statute of limitations for the boating accidents on waters governed by Florida law.

  2. Admiralty law or federal maritime law takes precedent in nautical and private maritime disputes that occur on the rivers, lakes, bays, and the Atlantic Ocean waters shared between states. Florida is allowed to follow its procedural laws in maritime disputes; however, Admiralty law takes precedent. And there's a three-year statute of limitations for boating accidents on waters governed by Admiralty law.

  3. If your injury occurred on a cruise ship, the statute of limitations for you to file grievances is even shorter, one year, or even six months. And the cruise contract usually has timeline restrictions on both:

    • Advance notification of your intentions to file legal action
    • And the actual filing of the suit

    So, always read the fine print on the ticket or cruise contract.

  4. Finally, if a loved one was killed as the result of a boating accident, first and foremost, we extend our condolences to you and your family. What you need to know about the statute of limitations for wrongful death is that it's of two years, and in some circumstances, as short as eighteen months from the date when the accident occurred.

To recap, the general statutes of limitations for boating accidents claims are:

  • 4 years on waters governed by Florida law
  • 3 years on waters governed by Admiralty law
  • 6 months to 1 year for accidents on cruise ships
  • 2 years (or sometimes 18 months) for wrongful death

How can The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary help you?

You have different rights under Admiralty law than you have under state law and you have to figure out which laws apply to your boating accident.

Working with an attorney that has extensive experience in boating accidents can make a huge difference in the outcome of your case.

Ready for a free, confidential boating accident consultation that will actually help you?

Call us today for legal advice from a skilled Miami-based boating accident attorney.

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided on this site is not formal legal advice, also the site does not allow you to form an attorney-client relationship.