Quality Representation.

Attention You Deserve.

Serving Clients In

Greater Orlando

And Surrounding Areas

Statute of Limitations on Debt in Florida: Laws & Debts

When unable to repay their debts, many people wonder if those debts will expire after a certain amount of time. Florida statute of limitations on debt collection sets the time limit for creditors to start legal proceedings against debtors. 

If you have burdensome debt, you must know your rights as a debtor, including the corresponding statute of limitations for each one of your debts. In the following sections, you will find key information about:

  • What Is a Statute of Limitations on Debt?
    • When does it start?
    • What can restart the statute of limitations on debt?
  • Statute of Limitations on Debt in Florida
  • How Bankruptcy Can Wipe Out Your Debts

In addition to dealing with collection agencies, having large debt can affect other aspects of your life. A bankruptcy lawyer may be able to help you find a suitable debt relief solution for your case. 

What Is a Statute of Limitations on Debt?

The Florida statute of limitations on debt sets the amount of time that a creditor has to legally attempt to recover a debt. Once this time frame has passed, creditors and debt collectors can no longer sue you or pursue other legal actions. 

For example, in Hawkins v. Barnes, 661 So. 2d 1271, Dale Barnes sold agriculture products on account to the defendants, Roy Hawkins and Ted Turner. The exchanges took place from 1983 to 1991. Their first account was closed in 1995 due to a balance of over $160,000. After this, the defendants agreed that future purchases would be charged to a second account. 

However, Roy and Ted also fell behind on these payments. This led to a second balance of $129,092.039. After this, Barnes decided only to sell them products in cash. The last payments made on credit were in November 1985 and July 1987 for the first and second accounts, respectively. 

Barnes sued them in February 1993 to try to collect both debts. Open accounts have a statute of limitations of four years in Florida. Because the first account was inactive since 1995, Barnes could not collect the $163,092.39 balance. 

However, Roy and Ted kept the second account active until 1991. As a result, this second account was not protected by the statute of limitations. So, the defendants had to pay this debt. 

As shown in the previous example, your creditor cannot start legal action against you when the statute of limitations on a debt has expired. However, this does not mean that your debt has been wiped out. Collection agencies may still call you, and the unpaid debt will remain on your credit report for a while. 

When does the statute of limitations on debt in Florida begin?

In Florida, the statute of limitations begins when a debt is considered delinquent, which means that a debtor failed to make a scheduled payment or the grace period established on the loan has ended. In other words, the statute of limitations on a debt starts when debtors stop making their required payments. 

What can restart the statute of limitations on debt in Florida?

When feeling trapped by the weight of your debts, you may think that waiting for the statute of limitations to run out may be a suitable course of action. However, there are certain actions that you can take during this time that can stop the statute of limitations and give your creditors more time to pursue the debt. 

According to Florida Statute §95.051, some actions that can stop or restart a statute of limitations include, but are not limited to:

  • Leaving the state to avoid being sued. 
  • Using a false name to prevent creditors from collecting the debt. 
  • Hiding to avoid being served.  
  • Making voluntary payments to the account. 

As shown in the previous example, Roy Hawkins and Ted Turner had balances on two accounts. At the time of the lawsuit, their first account had been inactive for eight years. On the other hand, they kept buying and paying for products on the second account. 

Their new purchases and corresponding payments kept the second account active. As a result, when Roy and Ted’s creditor sued them, the statute of limitations was still running, which allowed their creditor to collect the debt. 

When Does Debt Expire in Florida?

In Florida, debts arising from a written agreement have a statute of limitations of five years, an indebtedness incurred on an oral contract or due to injury or property damages can be pursued for four years

However, it’s important to know that there are different statutes of limitations in Florida for different types of debt. Below is a table with some examples of the statutes of limitations on debt in Florida:

Type of debtStatute of limitations
Federal student loansNo statute of limitations
Unpaid alimonyNo statute of limitations
Final judgment 20 years 
Certain tax liens20 years
Property taxes20 years
Credit card debt5 years
Medical debt5 years
Foreclosure actions5 years
Private student loans5 years
Personal loan (written contract)5 years
Car loan5 years
Store accounts4 years
Open accounts4 years
Debts for property damage4 years
Debts for personal injury4 years 
Criminal justice debt4 years

Should I Wait for the Florida Statute of Limitations on Debts to Run Out?

Waiting for a debt to expire in Florida may be tempting, especially if you can no longer afford to repay it. However, the statutes of limitations on debt in Florida only prevents your collectors from taking legal action against you. 

This means that debt collectors (whether it’s a creditor or collection agency) are still allowed to call you as long as they respect the Florida debt collection laws. Furthermore, even if the statute of limitations has expired, your unpaid balance will not be wiped out and will remain on your credit report for seven years.

How Filing Bankruptcy in Florida Can Help You with Outstanding Debt

Unlike an expired statute of limitations, filing for bankruptcy in Florida allows you to repay a portion of your debts and have most of the remaining balance erased at the end of your case. Some examples of debts that you may have discharged on bankruptcy include, but are not limited to:

  • Credit card debt
  • Medical bills
  • Personal loans
  • Payday checks 
  • Unpaid utility bills

Whether you file Chapter 7 or Chapter 13, bankruptcy allows you to deal with outstanding debts while preventing your creditors from taking any collection actions against you or your property. 

In short, a statute of limitations is not a debt relief option. In fact, you have to wait a long time before your debt expires. During this time, your creditors are able to sue you and pursue legal actions to collect the debt while you run the risk of accidentally stopping or restarting the statute of limitations. 

On the other hand, Florida statutes on debt and bankruptcy are meant to provide honest debtors with a fresh financial start. If you want to learn how filing for bankruptcy in Florida can help you deal with your debt and put a stop to harassment from debt collectors, call (407) 900-8490 to schedule a consultation. Bankruptcy attorney Zarina Hernandez serves clients in Orange, Seminole, Lake, and Osceola Counties.

Legal information reviewed by:
Zarina Hernandez | Founder & Attorney

Serving Greater


Area and...

Altamonte Springs









St. Cloud

Lake Mary



Orange City

Osceola County

Seminole County

Cocoa Beach