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How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Case?

Apr 1, 2024 | Personal Injury

Being hurt in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence can result in severe and debilitating injuries. You might also incur a significant amount of medical expenses, suffer lost wages, and incur out-of-pocket costs in connection with the accident. In such cases, you may be eligible to file a personal injury action to recover for your economic damages and pain and suffering. However, you only have a limited time to do so — New York State applies strict statutes of limitation to personal injury lawsuits. 

What is the Statute of Limitations for a Personal Injury Lawsuit?

In New York State, an accident victim only has a certain amount of time to commence a personal injury action. Generally, the time limit to file a lawsuit for injuries in connection with a car crash, slip or trip and fall, pedestrian knockdown, motorcycle accident, or other incident involving negligence is three years. The clock begins to run on the date of the accident. 

Cases involving the City of New York, the state, or a municipality have a much shorter statute of limitations — and different procedures must be followed. A Notice of Claim must be filed within 90 days of the accident to put the government entity on notice regarding the case. If the case is not resolved by settlement, a lawsuit must be filed within one year and 90 days from the date of the accident.     

Can the Statute of Limitations Be Extended? 

In certain situations, the statute of limitations may be extended, giving you more time to file a personal injury lawsuit. There are a number of situations that would delay the statute of limitations clock and toll the amount of time a victim has to commence a legal action. These exceptions include the following:  

  • Cases involving minors — If the accident victim was a minor, the time to file a lawsuit can be tolled until their 18th birthday, plus three years.
  • The victim had an unsound mind — The statute of limitations would begin running on the date the legal disability was lifted. After that time, they would have three years to file a lawsuit.
  • The defendant leaves the state — If the person who caused the injury left the state of New York after the accident and is gone for four months or more, the time they were absent would likely not be counted toward the three-year statute of limitations. 
  • The defendant uses a false name — The statute of limitations may be delayed if the defendant resides in the state under a false name that is not known to the plaintiff.

The statute of limitations may also be tolled if the cause of action was initially filed on time and terminated for reasons that were not the fault of the plaintiff. For instance, if the plaintiff passed away and the cause of action survives, the case can be re-filed within six months.   

What Happens if You Miss the Statute of Limitations?

If you miss the statute of limitations in your case but still attempt to file a personal injury lawsuit, the defendant will likely file a Motion to Dismiss. Unless a specific exception applies, the court will likely grant the motion — and you would lose your right to be awarded damages for your injuries. This is why it is crucial to contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible after the accident who can assess your claim and ensure that it is filed on time. 

Contact an Experienced New York City Personal Injury Attorney

If you were injured in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, carelessness, or recklessness, you may be entitled to file a personal injury lawsuit. However, it’s vital to understand that you only have a limited amount of time to do so. At The Edelsteins, Faegenburg & Brown, LLP, we assist clients with a wide array of personal injury matters and regularly obtain substantial settlements and verdicts on their behalf. Located in Manhattan, our firm has been handling personal injury cases throughout New York City since 1937. Call to schedule a free consultation at (212) 425-1999 today.




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