How long do I have to file a personal injury claim in New York?

On Behalf of | Oct 19, 2021 | personal injury

If you are involved in an accident in New York that was caused by another person, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and other damages — which is a small bit of good news. The not-so-great news, however, is that you have a time limit within which you must file your claim against the at-fault party. This is known as the statute of limitations. 

A statute of limitations is the law passed by every state to set the maximum time following an event within which an injury victim must initiate a legal proceeding against the negligent party. The purpose of the statute of limitations is to encourage a timely pursuit of a case to avoid any unreasonable delays, lost evidence and other problems.

How does the statute of limitations work?

As already indicated, the statute of limitations restricts the amount of time a plaintiff has to prepare the paperwork and start the lawsuit. The purpose is to encourage the timely resolution of personal injury cases. Usually, the clock begins to tick on the date of the injury. However, there are a few exceptions to this rule:

  • The discovery rule – in certain circumstances, like exposure to hazardous conditions or medical malpractice, the statute of limitations begins to run when the victim either discovers the harm done to them or should have reasonably done so.
  • Minors – if the injury victim is a minor, the period may “toll” until they reach adulthood.

That being said, you usually have 3 years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party if your case will be heard in New York — although that time frame is much shorter if the defendant is a government entity. 

Understanding the law can be difficult especially with respect to when you can bring a lawsuit against the at-fault party. Sometimes, a little guidance can make things a lot easier to understand.