What is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases in New York?

The most common statute of limitations for personal injury cases in New York is three years. However, there are many exceptions. Certain factors in your case may shorten the time you have to initiate a lawsuit to mere months. Missing a deadline will forfeit your legal right to pursue a claim– so be sure to discuss with a New York City personal injury lawyer as early as possible.

How statutes of limitations work

A statute of limitations is a law that limits the amount of time that a potential plaintiff has to file the paperwork that starts a lawsuit. The purpose is to encourage potential litigants to file their lawsuits promptly, while the parties can still gather evidence.

Usually, this period begins to run on the date of the accident or injury. However, there are a few exceptions:

  • Discovery rule– In limited situations like exposure to toxic substances or medical malpractice, the period does not begin to run until the victim discovers or reasonably should discover that negligent action caused the injury.
  • Minors– If the victim is a minor, the period may be “tolled” until they reach their majority.

In general, the statute of limitations depends on the type of accident involved and who may be at fault. For example, a lawsuit involving a toxic tort has a one-year limitations period while a New York claim against a municipality requires a notice of claim within 90 days of the accident and the initiation of a lawsuit within one year and 90 days of the accident.

Statutes of limitations for personal injury in New York

Determining the statute of limitations is not always straightforward, so it is critical to discuss your case with an experienced lawyer. Commonly applicable time limits are listed below. Unless otherwise noted, the limitations period begins to run when the wrongful or negligent act occurs.

  • General personal injury – three years
  • Assault or battery- one year
  • Motor vehicle accident – three years
  • Medical malpractice – two-and-a-half years
  • Product liability – three years
  • Wrongful death – two years from the death
  • Intentional harm – one year
  • Defamation – one year
  • Personal injury to a minor – three years from 18th birthday
  • Claim against local governments – claims against New York City require a notice of claim be filed within 90 days and a lawsuit must be filed within one year and 90 days. Claims against the state may only be filed in the Court of Claims; other special rules may apply, depending on the political subdivision.

What happens if you miss the deadline

If you file your lawsuit after the statute of limitations passes, the defense will likely file a motion to dismiss on that basis. Unless there is a valid argument to be made, perhaps because a different deadline might apply, the court will dismiss your case.

If the court dismisses your case based on the statute of limitations, you will lose your right to pursue that claim. This means the defendant and their insurance company have no incentive to negotiate a settlement.

If you are involved in settlement talks, and the filing deadline is drawing near, you may need to take action to preserve your right to sue. Speak with a skilled personal injury lawyer so that the statute of limitations does not expire before you finalize a settlement.

Find out more about the statute of limitations that applies in your case

Statutes of limitations are surprisingly technical, and one misstep can invalidate your claim. Speak with a New York City personal injury attorney at Douglas & London to find out what the applicable filing deadline is in your case. Our team is happy to serve clients throughout New York City. Consultations are free and confidential.