If you’ve been injured due to another person’s negligent or reckless behavior, you may be able to seek compensation for damages such as lost wages, medical bills, and pain and suffering. However, you have a limited amount of time if you need to file a lawsuit.
This article answers the most commonly asked questions about New York’s statute of limitations in personal injury cases, including how long you have to file a claim.
How the Statute of Limitations Works in New York
The term “statute of limitations” refers to the maximum amount of time that can occur between an event and when someone can initiate legal proceedings. Absent an exception, the clock starts ticking on the date of the incident in question.
Generally speaking, the statute of limitations period for filing a personal injury lawsuit in New York is three years. This timeframe includes the following types of civil claims:
- Car accident cases
- Property damage
- Slip and fall incidents
- Product liability
- Construction injuries
To see the statute of limitations in action, consider the following example: You were rear-ended by a driver on April 15, 2023. You would be able to file a lawsuit against the driver up until April 15, 2026.
Note that not all personal injury-related claims adhere to the three-year rule. There are varying time periods for medical malpractice cases and wrongful death lawsuits.
While some types of cases extend the statute of limitations, there are also claims that have abbreviated deadlines. If you want to file a lawsuit against a New York municipality, for example, you must first file a claim within 90 days.
What Happens if You Miss the Statute of Limitations Deadline?
Failure to initiate a lawsuit within this time period will result in the case being dismissed as a violation of the statute of limitations. In other words, if you miss the deadline, you risk forfeiting your right to sue.
There are, of course, exceptions to the statute of limitations deadline. The court may still allow a case to be heard if there is a compelling reason that the deadline was missed, or a valid exception applies.
Insurance companies are well aware of New York’s statute of limitations rule, so don’t be surprised if they delay settling a claim to cause you to miss the deadline. This is one of the many reasons why it’s recommended to hire a New York personal injury lawyer to represent you in a personal injury claim.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
For the statute of limitations, New York state law may extend the deadline for certain cases. Examples include:
- The defendant leaves New York state
- The victim is a minor
- Other circumstances that dictate tolling (pausing) the statute of limitations
Tolling, referred to above, occurs when the statute of limitations “clock” is temporarily paused. For example, if a personal injury case happens and the victim is a minor, the statute of limitations will not begin to run until the child turns 18, meaning they have until they turn age 21 to file a law suit.
The “discovery rule” is another exception to the statute of limitations period. This rule refers to not discovering an injury until months or years after an event occurred.
For instance, let’s say you worked for a company with black mold in the building. You might have had symptoms from long-term exposure without knowing the cause. Years later, a medical examination reveals that being in that environment caused your illness. In this case, the statute of limitations would begin on the date that your illness was diagnosed.
The Statute of Limitations for Cases Involving the New York Government
As noted, when filing a lawsuit against a New York government entity, the rules are slightly different. Specifically, you must alert the city, county, or agency that you plan to sue them. You have 90 days from the date of the incident to submit this notification.
Claims against New York government entities are more common than one might think. New York City has over 300,000 government employees, including police officers, firefighters, teachers, engineers, and doctors.
Given the size of government in the nation’s fourth most populous state, there is a high volume of claims filed. In 2022, there were 12,188 claims and lawsuits filed against New York City alone, totaling $1.5 billion in judgments and settlements.
Because the rules for filing a claim against a government entity are stricter than personal injury lawsuits against civilians, seeking the advice of an attorney promptly can help preserve your claim and increase the chances of a favorable outcome.
Contact an Experienced New York Personal Injury Attorney Today
Time flies, and the statute of limitations can expire faster than you might think, especially if you are engaged in complicated settlement negotiations. The experienced legal team at Elliot Ifraimoff & Associates has a successful track record in pursuing fair compensation for personal injury claims, in and out of court.
To discuss your case, call us at (718) 205-1010 for a free consultation.
You can also call us toll-free at (888) ASK-ELLIOT to find a car accident attorney.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the statute of limitations for criminal charges?
The criminal statute of limitations is longer than it is for civil cases. The precise statute of limitations depends on the specifics of the crime and the charges involved. In general, the statute of limitations ranges from one year to no time limit.
Do any types of claims have no statute of limitations?
Because the statute of limitations is based on the concept of judicial fairness, some types of claims and crimes have no deadlines for initiating a lawsuit. These include murder, rape, and other Class A felonies like arson, kidnapping, and terrorism.
Can I sue after the statute of limitations has expired?
In most cases, the answer to whether you can file a lawsuit after the statute of limitations has expired is no. However, exceptions may apply, so we encourage you to get in touch with a law firm to explore your options.