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The Statute of Limitations on Car Accident Claims in NYC

If you were injured in a car accident in New York State, you may not have as much time as you think to file your personal injury claim.  New York’s statute of limitations for car accident cases limits the amount of time that you have to file a lawsuit for monetary damages after a car crash.  Even severe claims including permanent injury or wrongful death might be limited, and filing your case too late could mean losing your claim.  If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident in New York City, call the Queens car accident lawyers at Sullivan and Galleshaw today for help with your case.  Our attorneys explain some of the details about NY’s car accident statute of limitations, and what the statute of limitations means for your claim.

Deadline to File a Car Accident Case in New York

After you are injured in a car accident, it is important to talk to an attorney about filing your case in court.  When you sue for car accident injuries, the court may be able to order compensation that covers your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.  However, various laws explain what elements are necessary for a valid claim, and you must comply with procedural rules.  One of the most serious car accident rules from New York’s civil procedure rules, is § 214(5).  This rule says that personal injury claims must be made within 3 years.

This deadline exists for a few reasons.  First, the government has an interest in ensuring that evidence and witness memory are all fresh when the case goes to trial.  Limiting cases to a 3-year deadline helps ensure the accuracy of testimony and availability of evidence for trial.  Second, filing a claim quickly shows the court and the victim that your claim is serious and that you really need the compensation.  If you wait years before filing, it appears that your claim isn’t that important if you’ve gone on for so long without getting compensation.  Lastly, it is unfair for a defendant to look over their shoulder for decades, wondering if the car accident claim will come back to haunt them.

The deadline from the personal injury statute of limitations only limits how long you have to file the case.  During that 3-year period, you can recover from your injuries, contact an attorney, and begin gathering information for your case, but there is no requirement that you complete the entire lawsuit in that 3-year period.  Once your case is filed within the 3-year period, the lawsuit may extend past the statute of limitations without harming your case.

Consequences for Violating the Statute of Limitations in NYC Car Crash Cases

If you violate the statute of limitations and file your case too late, you likely will not be able to bring your case.  Statutes of limitations can block a late case entirely, barring you from your day in court.  The defendant may raise the statute of limitations as a defense to the allegations, but the court can also raise the issue on its own.  If the case is too late, the judge may point to the statute of limitations and throw your case out to save court time and resources.

Can You File a Car Accident Claim Early in NY?

If you were injured, it is important to talk to an attorney about your case as soon as you can.  Not only will this help protect your claim, but it will also help you gather evidence early and protect you from the pressure to settle.  If the other driver or their insurance company contacts you and offers you a settlement, it may be tempting to take that offer.  However, if you have an attorney on your case already, they can help you determine if the settlement offer is enough to cover your needs.  Hiring an attorney to represent you in preliminary discussions can help stop you from oversharing evidence or making statements that hurt your case.

You can always file your car accident lawsuit early, which can also help your case.  Filing your case quickly shows the at-fault driver you are serious about getting compensation.  Additionally, the earlier you file, the quicker the case finishes, and the quicker you get the compensation you need.

Filing early also gives you the opportunity to make changes to your case.  If your case is filed with the wrong local court or you need to add additional claims or parties to your case, you may not be able to change anything or file additional claims if the statute of limitations has expired.  If you leave yourself additional time after your filing date, your attorney can join other parties in the lawsuit.  This may be especially helpful if you were injured in a truck accident or another commercial vehicle accident and need to add the driver’s employer to the lawsuit.

Queens Car Accident Attorneys Offering Free Consultations

If you or a loved one was injured in a car accident in New York City, or if a loved one died in a car crash, talk to the Queens personal injury lawyers at Sullivan and Galleshaw today.  Our lawyers can help you file your case early and provide you with a strong trial strategy to maximize the compensation you receive in your car accident case.  To schedule a free consultation with our lawyers, call 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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