How long do I have to bring a personal injury claim in the state of New York?
A statute of limitations puts a time limit on filing a lawsuit. This time clock usually begins to run on the date of the incident for which you are seeking damages for your injuries. This deadline applies to almost all types of personal injury cases, including negligence and intentional torts.
Exceptions to the NY Statute of Limitations
There are certain exceptions to the typical three-year statute of limitations. These exceptions may delay, pause, or shorten the time limitation imposed for personal injury cases.
If the injured person looking to file a personal injury lawsuit is a minor under the age of 18 or of unsound mind, they are under a legal disability. In these cases, the three-year time clock will not begin to run until all disabilities are lifted. The clock will then start to run when a minor turns 18 or a person of unsound mind is declared sane.
Defendant Leaves the State of New York
If the defendant, or person who caused the injury, leaves the State of New York after the injury occurred but before the lawsuit is filed, and is gone for four months or longer, the time clock will not begin to run until after this person has returned.
The Discovery Rule
Under this rule, the statute of limitations will not begin to run until the injured person has discovered or should have discovered the injury. This can extend the statute of limitations when the injury or harm is not open and obvious.
This time frame is different when bringing a case against a municipality. A municipality is any local government entity. So, for example, if you are involved in a crash with a City of New York Department of Sanitation truck, a New York City Parks Department pick-up truck, or a New York City Transit Authority bus the statute is different – and shorter.
All of these municipal entities are protected by stronger laws that shorten that statute of limitations. In most of these scenarios, you have ninety (90) days from the date of the accident to file a Notice of Claim. Certain Public Authorities, including the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Long Island Railroad, have different and shorter statutes.
After filing a Notice of Claim, you must appear for a hearing and a medical exam, if requested. Only after you pass those hurdles, called “conditions precedent” to bringing a lawsuit, will you be allowed to sue the municipality.
These rules hold true not only for the City of New York and New York City Transit Authority, but for all municipal entities inside and outside of the City of New York, as well as Towns and Villages in the surrounding counties of Nassau, Suffolk, and Westchester.
Speak with an Attorney Right Away to Prevent Missing the Statute of Limitations Deadline
If the three-year statute of limitations has run and you file your personal injury lawsuit, the other side, or defendant, will file a “motion to dismiss.” A motion to dismiss is filed when either party believes that the opposing party’s claim is legally invalid.
In this case, the defendant would file a motion to dismiss, pointing out to the court that the statute of limitations has run. In most cases, this will end in your case being dismissed, and you will no longer have a chance to seek damages for your injuries.
If you have been injured, it is wise to seek legal counsel as soon as possible. The sooner you contact a personal injury attorney, the sooner they can begin working on your case, ensuring your claim is filed timely.