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What is the Car Accident Statute of Limitations in New York?

December 22, 2021

If you have been injured in a car accident, the last thing you need to worry about is how long you have to file a lawsuit. However, there are strict deadlines for filing legal claims after a car accident. These deadlines are called statutes of limitations. The statute of limitations in your case will depend on a number of factors, including who was involved in the car accident. 

If you do not file your lawsuit by the statute of limitations, you will lose the opportunity to obtain compensation for your injuries through a personal injury lawsuit. Read on to learn more about the New York statute of limitations for car accident claims and how you can get the assistance you need if you have been injured in a car accident.

What is a Statute of Limitations?

A statute of limitations is a legal phrase that is a time limit to file a lawsuit. In personal injury cases, statutes of limitations are when you have to file a lawsuit after a car accident or injury. If you do not file a lawsuit within the time frame established by the statute of limitations, a New York Court will dismiss your lawsuit and stop you from suing the person who caused her injuries. 

There are different statutes of limitations for different types of legal claims. For example, the statutes of limitation for medical malpractice lawsuits may be different from other lawsuits. Once the victim of a personal injury lawsuit has filed a lawsuit, the statute of limitations is no longer an issue. So long as the initial deadline has been met, you will be able to move forward with your case. 

The New York Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Cases

A statute of limitations puts a time limit on filing a lawsuit. The clock usually begins to run on the date of the incident for which you’re seeking damages. The deadline applies to nearly all personal injury cases, including intentional torts and negligence. In New York, the statute of limitations is three years from the date of the car accident for those who’ve been injured in a car accident with a privately owned and operated vehicle. 

In other words, if your car accident happened on January 1st, 2020, you have until January 1st, 2023, to file your lawsuit. There are some exceptions to the typical three-year statute of limitations in New York. These exceptions can delay, pause, or shorten the time limitation imposed for personal injury cases. 

Legal Disability Exception

There is a legal disability exception in cases involving an injured person under the age of 18 or of unsound mind. In these cases, the three-year statute of limitations will not start running until all of the disabilities have been lifted. The clock will start to run when the minor turns 18 or when the person of unsound mind is declared legally sane and competent. For example, if a child becomes injured in a car accident at age 12, the statute of limitations will not expire until he or she turns 21. 

The Discovery Rule

In some cases, the victim of a personal injury accident may not become aware of the full extent of their injuries until significant time has passed. The discovery rule is another important exception to the New York statute of limitations. The statute of limitations does 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.

Municipalities and Statute of Limitations

What happens if the car accident victim has been injured by an employee of the state of New York or New York City? The statute of limitations is different when the plaintiff brings a case against the municipality. Municipalities are any type of local government entity from the New York City Parks Department, the New York City Transit Authority, or even the City of New York Department of Sanitation. If employees of any of these agencies or the agency itself caused the car accident that resulted in your injuries, you could bring a claim against them.

However, these municipal entities are protected by stronger laws that shorten the statute of limitations. In most of these cases, you have 90 days from the date of the accident to file a notice of claim. Certain public authorities, such as the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the Long Island Railroad, have shorter or different statutes of limitations. After you file your notice of claim, you will be required to undergo a medical examination and appear in a hearing. Once you pass through those hurdles, also known as conditions precedent, you will be able to bring a lawsuit against the municipality. 

If you have been injured in a car accident involving a city employee, it is crucial that you discuss your case with an attorney as soon as possible. You may not have as long to file your claim, and you do not want to miss the opportunity to recover compensation through a legal claim against the defendant. The Harrison Law Group will carefully evaluate your case and file a lawsuit on your behalf.

When Does the Statute of Limitations Start?

In general, the clock for statutes of limitation begins on the date that the accident occurs. However, in some cases, such as when a victim survives a car accident but later passes away, the statute of limitations won’t begin to run from the date of the accident. Instead, it will begin to run from the time of the victim’s death.

How an NYC Car Accident Attorney Can Help You

If you or your loved one has been seriously injured in a car accident in New York City, you need an experienced and aggressive attorney on your side. Contact the Harrison Law Group today to schedule your free initial consultation.

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