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The Statute of Limitations on Brain Injury Claims in New York

Brain injuries are some of the most serious injuries you can sustain in an accident. These injuries can affect your life for years to come, requiring intensive surgical intervention, ongoing therapy, and help with day-to-day activities. If you or a loved one was injured in an accident and suffered a serious brain injury, you may need time to start your recovery. However, you should consider contacting a personal injury lawyer for help with your case. You may have a limited time to file for compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering, so it is vital to file your case on time. The Queens brain injury attorneys at Sullivan and Galleshaw explain how long you have to file your brain injury case in New York.

Deadline to File Brain Injury Lawsuits in NYC

Every state, including New York, puts time limits on legal actions. This includes both civil and criminal cases, which have strict deadlines for filing. Each broad type of case has its own time limit, so all personal injury cases sharing the same deadline.

The “statute of limitations” under NY Civil Practice Law and Rules § 214(5) gives victims 3 years to file personal injury claims. These lawsuits include any claim for damages after a physical injury. Whether the injury was caused by a slip and fall accident, a car crash, or another accidental injury, the same 3-year filing deadline applies.

This deadline governs how long you have to get your case filed with the court. It does not limit you to 3 years to complete your lawsuit and finish the trial. As long as your case is filed within the 3-year deadline, your trial can continue past the deadline without any penalties. This may be important for complex cases, such as product liability claims for defective helmets or lawsuits against the MTA or other government entities.

What Happens if You File an Injury Lawsuit Too Late

New York’s statute of limitations is strict and requires all lawsuits to be filed within the deadline. If you file your case too late, you may lose your case entirely.

The defendant can use the statute of limitations as a complete defense to your claim. Since the statute only authorizes cases filed within 3 years, any claims filed after that period can be dismissed if the defendant can demonstrate that the case was filed too late. The court can also bring up the statute of limitations on their own to prevent a waste of court time and resources.

There are a few exceptions to the standard 3-year time limit that may give you additional time to file your case. Some of these exceptions let you file a case late if you did not know that your injury existed. With something as traumatic and apparent as a brain injury, these arguments do not typically work. However, there are other rules that allow you an extension on your filing deadline.

There are two examples of “legal disabilities” under the law, which give additional time to file. If you were under 18 years old when the accident occurred or you suffered from a mental issue that made it impossible to appreciate the accident and your ability to sue, you may deserve an extension. Instead of starting the 3-year clock right away, the time limit does not start running until your disability is “cured.” This means that the 3-year deadline runs from your 18th birthday if you were a minor and runs from the date you recover from your mental health issues if you were mentally disabled.

In addition to these justifications, you may be able to extend the deadline if the person responsible for your injury flees the state. It might be impossible to serve the defendant with process and notice of the lawsuit if they are out of state, so the time they spend living out of state may not count against your 3-year timer.

Why Do Brain Injury Cases Have a Deadline?

Brain injury cases are extremely serious, and the damages you could face could be very high. Hospital bills and lost wages totaling hundreds of thousands or millions of dollars are not uncommon in these cases. However, filing your case too late might mean missing these damages entirely. Why would there be such a strict time limit on such serious cases?

Statutes of limitations exist for a few important purposes. First, they push people to file serious charges and get the compensation they need without delay. Second, deadlines prevent old, outdated cases with unreliable information from coming to court. Third, old cases with bad evidence waste a lot of court time and resources, so statutes of limitations help filter out those cases. Lastly, these deadlines prevent defendants from looking over their shoulder for the rest of their lives, wondering if the claim will ever be filed.

Our Queens Brain Injury Lawyers Offer Free Consultations

If you or a loved one suffered a serious brain injury, talk to an attorney before your case expires. The Queens personal injury lawyers at Sullivan and Galleshaw represent injury victims and their families and fight to get them the compensation they need for lost wages, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. For a free consultation on your case, contact our law offices today at (718) 843-0300.


Over our many years practicing personal injury law, our highly experienced legal team has earned a reputation for excellence. Our attorneys have appeared on major media outlets such as Fox News and MSNBC . Our firm’s legal accomplishments have been profiled by the New York Law Journal, the Los Angeles Times, ESPN, and the Associated Press. We have won multiple verdicts in excess of $1 million, making us proud members of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, a prestigious organization which admits fewer than 1% of all attorneys in the United States. We were named Super Lawyers in 2011, and enjoy a perfect 10/10 Superb rating on national attorney database Avvo.

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