Facing an injury can lead to many questions about what to do next, concerns about how your medical bills will be paid, and legal concerns that need to be addressed. One common concern is the question of how long you have to file your case. After an injury, there is a limited time to get your case before a court – but it is often enough time for most people to get their case together.
If you were injured in an accident, it is important that you understand how long you have to file your case with a court of law. The New York personal injury lawyers at Sullivan and Galleshaw have handled hundreds of cases, and understand the laws and procedures surrounding personal injury cases. For a free consultation on your case, contact our law offices today at (718) 843-0300.
What is the Time Limit for Injury Cases in NY State?
The “statute of limitations” is the name for a rule that blocks a lawsuit after a certain amount of time. The limitations period – or time limit you have to file – varies between types of cases. In some injury cases, you may suffer physical injury to your body as well as damage to your personal property, such as in a car accident case. The term “personal injury” refers to bodily injury, and is the focus of most of these cases. Any case dealing with personal injury in New York is subject to a 3-year statute of limitations. However, some cases like medical malpractice claims may have different deadlines.
This deadline means that your case must be filed within the 3-year period. The law does not require you to file your case, research the facts, share evidence at discovery, then complete the trial within this period. As long as your foot is in the door and your case is filed within 3 years, you should not generally have trouble with the statute of limitations. The 3-year period usually starts from the date of the injury.
Statutes of limitations are in place for a few reasons. First, the evidence of any case may degrade or become lost over time. Human memory is especially vulnerable, and begins to fade soon after the events of the case. Waiting too long makes this evidence unreliable.
If a case takes too long before coming to court, it appears as though it wasn’t a priority, and that compensation isn’t necessary. A statute of limitations blocks cases like that, where the injured victim does not actively pursue damages.
Lastly, a statute of limitations stops the defendant from looking over their shoulders for years. If you could wait decades to file your case, the defendant may be constantly wondering if the case will ever be filed, or be surprised when it is filed. A 3-year time limit eliminates the wondering.
New York’s statute of limitations is more generous than some other states. Many states have a 2-year statute of limitations on injury cases – but New York’s 3-year limit gives you more time to file.
What Happens if I File a Personal Injury Case Too Late in New York?
The defendant in a lawsuit can use the statute of limitations as a defense if you file the case too late. That means that if the case is filed too late, the defendant can ask a court to dismiss the case. If this happens, you will likely have no other opportunity to file, since any re-filings would also be too late. However, there are some opportunities to extend the statute of limitations.
In New York, the “discovery rule” may extend the deadline to file in some cases. This rule moves the starting time of the limitations period from the date of injury to the date the injury was discovered. In some types of cases, you may not immediately understand that you are actually injured, or that the injury was caused by someone else’s negligence. For instance, if you are put in a coma by a traumatic brain injury, you may not discover the injury until you wake up. Counting from the date of discovery instead of the date of injury may save your case.
Other rules allow the statute of limitations to be “tolled” or paused. “Infancy” or “insanity” are two of the main ways a deadline may be extended. If you are a minor or too mentally unable to appreciate the case when the injury occurs, you may be able to wait until that legal “disability” goes away. This means your 3-year clock does not start until you are rid of the disability (either by turning a certain age or because your mental illness is sufficiently resolved).
New York Personal Injury Lawyers
The New York City personal injury lawyers at Sullivan and Galleshaw represent injured victims in the City and throughout New York State. For a free consultation on your personal injury case, contact our law offices today at (718) 843-0300. Be sure to act fast, since the statute of limitations on your case may already be running.