If you have been injured in New York and someone else is to blame, you can often recover compensation for your injuries through a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the at-fault party. However, you only have a specific window of time in which to file a lawsuit – a window known as the statute of limitations.
To ensure that you are able to have your day in court, you should familiarize yourself with the statute of limitations on personal injury claims in New York as well as some common exceptions to the statute.
If you were harmed due to another person’s careless or otherwise negligent behavior, contact the New York personal injury attorneys at Finz & Finz, P.C. today for a free consultation to discuss your case.
The Statute of Limitations on Personal Injury Cases in New York
The statute of limitations in New York for most personal injury cases is three years. According to New York Civil Practice Law and Rules Section 214, legal action must be “commenced,” or filed, within a three-year window. Your case does not need to be resolved within that time frame, you simply need to initiate legal proceedings against the at-fault party.
The statute of limitations typically begins the day you were injured. From that day forward, you will have three years to file your complaint and other paperwork with the appropriate court. The three-year statute of limitations applies to nearly all personal injury cases, from auto accidents to slip and falls and premises liability claims to construction zone accidents. It also applies whether your injuries were caused by someone’s carelessness or by an intentional act, such as domestic assault.
What if I File After the Statute of Limitations Has Expired?
If you fail to take legal action against the at-fault party within the allotted timeframe and file your lawsuit after the statute of limitations expires, the defendant in your case will likely file a motion to have the case dismissed. The court will almost certainly grant the motion to dismiss unless you meet one of the few exceptions to the statute of limitations.
If your case is dismissed, you will forfeit your right to pursue damages through the legal system and could be left with huge out-of-pocket expenses, even if the defendant was obviously responsible for your injuries. That’s why it is crucial to make sure you file before the deadline. You should not be responsible for any costs associated with your injuries if someone else is to blame for them.
Abiding by the statute of limitations is clearly vital in terms of having your case heard by a civil court, but it is also important in relation to settlement negotiations with the insurance company. If the statute of limitations has run out, the insurance company will know that you cannot bring a lawsuit against them. The threat of a lawsuit is one of your biggest bargaining chips.
Insurance companies are for-profit entities, and their primary goals are maximizing revenue and minimizing costs. When you are negotiating with the insurance company, they are much more likely to make a fair offer if they know that you could take them to court. Trials are long, costly affairs, and if the insurance company can avoid a trial by offering an agreeable settlement, they will often do so.
In short, the closer you get to the end of the statute of limitations, the less likely you are to receive the compensation you deserve, whether that’s in court or a settlement.
Statute of Limitations Exceptions
There are numerous exceptions to the three-year statute of limitations on personal injury cases in New York. Some of the most common exceptions include:
- The victim is a minor – If the injured victim is under 18 years of age, the three-year statute of limitations for personal injury will generally not begin until they turn 18 and becomes a legal adult.
- The victim is legally disabled – If a person is not of sound mind, the statute of limitations will typically begin once they are legally sane and the disability ceases, according to New York Civil Practice Law and Rules Section 208.
- The defendant leaves the state before the plaintiff can sue – If the person who caused the victim’s injuries through negligence or intentional misconduct leaves New York before the victim can commence legal proceedings, the statute of limitations could potentially be extended by the amount of time the defendant is gone. However, the statute of limitations might not be extended if the defendant is gone for less than four months.
- Medical malpractice – The statute of limitations for medical malpractice is shorter than for other types of personal injury cases. If a patient is injured as the result of a healthcare professional’s negligence, they will generally only have two years and six months to file a lawsuit against the at-fault medical provider or facility.
If you believe you qualify for an exception to the statute of limitations, contact a New York personal injury attorney to discuss the specifics of your case, especially if the three-year deadline is approaching.
Contact a New York Personal Injury Lawyer Today
Have you been injured as the result of someone else’s negligence or misconduct? If so, the experienced New York personal injury lawyers at Finz & Finz, P.C. have the skills and resources to help you demand the compensation you deserve, either through settlement talks with the insurance company or through a lawsuit if necessary.
Our trial attorneys are ready to work quickly investigating your case, gathering evidence on your behalf, and entering into negotiations with the insurance company, while leaving enough time to file a lawsuit if we cannot get a fair settlement offer.
Contact us for a free, no-risk consultation.