Is the Personal Injury Statute of Limitations Different for a Child?

When you are hurt, and someone else is legally at fault, this is a personal injury, and the law recognizes your right to pursue compensation. As a way to balance your rights with the defendant’s, the state imposes a statute of limitations– a deadline by which you must file your lawsuit. When a child is the victim, this deadline is extended, but you must still pay attention to it or risk losing the right to sue altogether.

Statutes of limitations are more complex than most people realize. There are exceptions, and sometimes the exceptions have exceptions. If you think you have figured it out but calculate the wrong day– even on behalf of a minor– you could be forever barred from pursuing your personal injury claim. Always discuss your claim with a New York City personal injury lawyer to avoid this kind of pitfall.

General statute of limitations for personal injury in NY

Each state sets statutes of limitations for different types of offenses. In New York, the general statute of limitations for personal injuries is three years from the date of the injury. So, for example, if you are injured in a slip and fall on a commercial property, barring special circumstances, you will likely have three years to bring legal action.

If you do not file your lawsuit by the deadline, the other party can request that the case be dismissed, and you will not be able to refile it. This can happen even if you had been in settlement talks before filing the lawsuit. If you were negotiating a resolution with the defendant’s insurance company but the statute of limitations is about to expire, talk to a lawyer about filing a lawsuit or obtaining written agreement from the defendant to extend the deadline pending settlement discussions.

Exceptions to the personal injury statute of limitations

The statute of limitations may vary depending on who the plaintiff is, who the intended defendant is, and other circumstances surrounding the accident.

One exception is known as the “discovery rule.” If the injury was not apparent right away, the statute of limitations may not begin to run until it reasonably should be discovered. For example, if an illness is caused by exposure to a toxic substance, but this is not found until sometime after the exposure, the injured individual may have additional time to file a lawsuit.

When the potentially at-fault party is a government agency or a municipality, the procedure varies by geographic location. Still, it is different from a typical personal injury claim, and the statute of limitations is shorter. For instance, if you are injured on public property in New York City, local laws require you to submit a notice of claim within 90 days of the accident. You then have one year and 90 days to file a lawsuit.

Statute of limitations when the victim is a minor

A minor– an individual who has not yet reached their eighteenth birthday– has fewer responsibilities than adults due to their relatively limited experience, maturity, and ability. Recognizing this, the statute of limitations is tolled (extended) for them.

In New York, for most personal injury cases, a minor may file a lawsuit up to three years after their eighteenth birthday. There are some exceptions. For example, when the personal injury results from alleged medical malpractice, the statute of limitations can be extended but only up to ten years.

If a minor is injured by an employee of a government entity, the statute of limitations is tolled. The minor has one year and 90 days, rather than 90 days, to file a notice of claim. This preserves the right to file a lawsuit, which must be filed within three years of the eighteenth birthday as in other personal injury cases.

Contact us at Douglas and London for a free consultation

If you are the parent or guardian of a minor who has been injured due to someone else’s negligence, speak with a personal injury lawyer who has extensive experience in these kinds of cases. Seek professional guidance as early as possible because if you miss the statute of limitations, your right to receive compensation could vanish completely.

The attorneys at Douglas & London are committed to protecting the rights of personal injury victims, adults as well as children. Call today to schedule a free consultation to discuss your claim.