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Understanding the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in New York

Understanding the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in New York

About 1.5 million people in New York end up in the emergency room every year, many of them with serious injuries. A large portion of the latter may seek compensation through a personal injury claim.

If you ever find yourself in this situation, ask yourself, “What is the statute of limitations in New York?” or simply, “How long do I have to file a claim?” 

personal injury attorney in New York can help ensure your claim stays within the proper timeframes and follows other important rules. An experienced lawyer will also let you know whether your claim may fall under any exceptions to the NY legal filing deadlines.

What Is the Statute of Limitations in New York, and Why Does It Matter?

Accidental injuries are extremely common. According to the CDC, unintentional injury is the leading cause of death in the U.S. among people aged 1 to 44. The huge number of accident victims translates into a massive amount of personal injury and wrongful death claims.

The legal system would never catch up if claims had no time limits. Finding evidence or locating witnesses would also be a lot more work. Moreover, it would be possible to weaponize claims and harm people by threatening legal actions indefinitely. Time constraints in New York law ensure plaintiffs file their claims within a reasonable period and protect defendants from obsolete claims. 

Other types of suits, like workplace discrimination, also have legal time restrictions in the State of New York. Only capital offenses and some other severe criminal acts aren’t subject to any statute of limitations. Any claims filed after the statute of limitations expires will encounter automatic dismissal.

The New York statute of limitations for personal injury cases is typically three years. This includes car accidents, slip-and-fall accidents, construction accidents, and injuries due to defective products. The New York legal time limit for medical malpractice lawsuits is usually 2.5 years.

What If You’re Suing a Government Agency?

If you’re taking action against the City of New York or a government agency, you only have one year and 90 days to file a claim. Moreover, you must file a notice of claim within 90 days, or you’ll lose your right to compensation. Contact a competent lawyer immediately if you are considering suing a government agency in NY.

When Does the Statute of Limitations Start?

In a typical personal injury case, the clock starts ticking on the date of the injury — for example, when the car crash or fall occurred. Thus, if you suffered a car accident on January 1, 2024, you can usually file a claim until January 1, 2027. Please note that in this article, we’re discussing accidental injuries, not intentional assault or other criminal acts. 

The Discovery Rule

The New York statute expiration period becomes more complicated for illnesses or injuries without a precise moment of onset. For example, let’s say a doctor gives you a lung disease diagnosis and says your condition is likely related to exposure to chemicals in your former job, which you quit years ago. In this case, the statute of limitations would start from the moment of your diagnosis. 

Medical Malpractice Claims

In medical malpractice claims, the statute of limitations counts from the end of the last treatment for the same condition. This is true even if the specific action that caused the injury occurred earlier.

Minors

Every year, about 18,000 minors in New York need hospitalization because of an injury. If you were a minor at the time of the accident, you may file a claim up to three years after your 18th birthday.

One exception to this rule is medical malpractice. In medical malpractice cases, the statute of limitations only extends up to 10 years from the injury. Thus, if a 5-year-old suffers an injury because of improper medical care, the child’s parents or guardians must file a claim before the child is 15.

What Can Extend the Statute of Limitations?

In some cases, it’s possible to toll, or pause, the statute of limitations in New York. This applies, for example, if a court issues a stay of proceedings or the plaintiff files the claim on time, but it is terminated for a reason beyond the plaintiff’s control. 

The statute of limitations may also pause if the at-fault side leaves the state or tries to avoid consequences by living under a false identity. 

What If Either Party Dies During the Claim Process?

In some cases, the accident victim files a claim on time but then passes either from their condition or for another reason. If this happens, the statute of limitations extends to a year after the plaintiff’s death. If the allegedly at-fault side passes during the proceedings, the statute of limitations will toll for 18 months after the defendant’s death.

Why You Should Act Quickly on a Personal Injury Claim

A three-year deadline may seem like a long time, but it’s unwise to put off filing a personal injury claim. As time passes, evidence may become unavailable, records could become muddled, and witnesses may forget important details or move out of state.

That’s why you should contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible after your accident and learn your options. Trustworthy personal injury lawyers usually offer a free initial consultation and work on a contingency basis, meaning you only pay when collecting your settlement.

One situation in which your lawyer may advise you to hold off on filing a claim is when your recovery prospects are unclear after a serious injury. In this case, you may delay taking action until you reach maximum improvement, but your lawyer can still work on your claim in the meantime. 

Call Pyrros, Serres & Rupwani for Help With Your Personal Injury Claim

Did you suffer an injury? Our experienced team is here to provide the reliable, efficient legal representation you need after an accident or common workplace injuries. We’ll calculate the worth of your case, work hard to negotiate a suitable settlement for you, and ensure your claim complies with the statute of limitations in New York. 

Call (718) 626-7730 or fill out our online form for a free case evaluation today.

FAQs

Are there any exceptions to the statute of limitations in NY?

Yes, sometimes. For example, the standard three-year deadline extends if you were a minor at the time of the accident or if you couldn’t have reasonably discovered the injury within the standard timeframe for legal actions in New York. Talk to a personal injury lawyer to determine what the statute of limitations would be in your case.

What if I’m pursuing a claim against the City of New York?

If you’re filing a claim against the City through the Comptroller’s Office, you must do so within a year and 90 days from the accident. 

How soon should I start my personal injury claim?

Please consult a lawyer and consider your legal options as soon as you realize you’ve suffered an injury. The statute of limitations sets the deadline for claims, but the sooner you act, the easier it will be for you to collect evidence and present a strong claim. 

What if the statute of limitations has already expired for my case?

If the statute of limitations has already passed, you’ll usually be unable to pursue a claim for the injury. An experienced lawyer can let you know whether any exceptions to the statute of limitations in New York apply to your case.

About The Author

Picture of Michael Serres, ESQ.

Michael Serres, ESQ.

Michael Serres, ESQ. is a reputed Workers’ Compensation Lawyer in Astoria, Queens, NY. He graduated from St. John’s University School of Law in 1989. Mr. Serres was admitted to practice law in New York State in 1990 and is admitted in the Federal District Courts for the Southern and the Eastern Districts of New York. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Workers’ Compensation Bar Association and is currently serving on the Board of Directors of the Queens County Bar Association.