What is the Statute of Limitations for a Car Accident in New York State?

statute of limitations
Posted: May 6, 2024

The statute of limitations for filing a car accident lawsuit in New York is generally three years from the date of the accident. However, some exceptions may shorten or lengthen this deadline. If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a car accident in New York State, it’s a good idea to talk with a car accident lawyer to make sure you don’t miss any important deadlines.

Car accidents can be traumatic and overwhelming experiences. Amid dealing with injuries, medical bills, and insurance claims, it’s crucial to be aware of the legal deadlines that apply to your case. One of the most important deadlines is the statute of limitations, which sets a time limit for filing a lawsuit.

Car Accident Statute of Limitations in New York

In New York, the law generally provides car accident victims three years from the accident date to file a personal injury lawsuit to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, and other damages. If you fail to file a car accident lawsuit within this time frame, you will most likely lose the opportunity to seek compensation through the court system.

Keep in mind that this statute of limitations differs from the time limitation for filing a no-fault car accident claim with the insurance company. In New York, this deadline is typically 30 days from the accident date unless the injured person can submit written proof providing clear and reasonable justification for the failure to comply.

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations

Although the statute of limitations is generally a strict rule designed to prevent frivolous lawsuits, there are certain circumstances in which exceptions may apply:

Victims Under the Age of 18

New York’s Civil Practice Laws allow for extensions on filing deadlines for minors under 18 and those with legal disabilities that hinder their ability to exercise their legal rights. In most cases, the statute of limitations “clock” begins to run once the minor reaches 18.

Defendant Leaves New York State

If the person responsible for causing an injury leaves New York State for at least 4 continuous months within the original statute of limitations, the car accident victim may be granted an extension. This measure is in place to protect injury victims in the event that the defendant attempts to evade legal responsibility by leaving the state for an extended period after the car crash.

Lawsuits Against Municipalities

When filing a claim against a municipality in New York, special rules and shorter statutes of limitations come into play. To pursue a personal injury suit against a municipality, you must first file a notice of claim within 90 days of the incident. You have a total of 1 year and 90 days from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the municipality.

Wrongful Death Lawsuits

If a loved one has died due to a car accident caused by a negligent individual, you have two years from the date of their death to file a legal claim against the responsible party. Additionally, you have 30 days from the date of the accident to apply for no-fault benefits, which can help cover medical bills and lost wages related to the accident.

Consulting with an attorney can help you determine when the statute of limitations expires based on the specifics of your claim. To avoid the risk of missing the filing deadline, it’s always advisable to seek legal assistance as soon as possible.

When an Uninsured or Underinsured Driver Causes an Accident

In most car accident cases, there is an “at-fault driver,” who is responsible for causing the accident. Typically, to receive compensation for pain and suffering, those injured would need to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Unfortunately, some drivers on our roadways do not have car insurance or do not have adequate car insurance.

In this instance, injured motorists may be able to turn to their own insurance company, which will offer uninsured motorist coverage or supplementary uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.  Such claims will be subject to insurance notice requirements, as well as a statute of limitations.

Understanding the Statute of Limitations

The statute of limitations is a law that sets a time limit on your right to file a lawsuit. If you fail to file your case within the specified time frame, you may lose your right to seek compensation for your injuries and damages. The statute of limitations varies depending on the type of case and the state in which the accident occurred.

The statute of limitations on car accident claims serves several important purposes, such as:

  • Encourages prompt action: The statute of limitations encourages injured parties to take action quickly and file their claims in a timely manner. This helps prevent delays that could hinder the legal process and make it more challenging to gather evidence and witness testimony.
  • Protects defendants from indefinite legal exposure: Without a statute of limitations, defendants would face the constant threat of a lawsuit, even years after an incident. This indefinite legal exposure could lead to uncertainty and difficulties in mounting a defense as evidence and witnesses become less reliable over time.
  • Promotes fairness and justice: The statute of limitations ensures that legal claims are brought while evidence is still relatively fresh and memories are clear. This allows for a more fair and just resolution of cases, as the passage of time can erode the quality of evidence and make it harder to determine what really happened.
  • Reduces the burden on the court system: By setting a time limit on filing claims, the statute of limitations helps reduce the number of older, less meritorious cases that could clog the court system. This allows courts to focus their resources on more recent and pressing matters.
  • Provides closure and certainty: The statute of limitations gives all parties involved a sense of closure and certainty. Once the time limit has passed, defendants can move on without the looming threat of a lawsuit, and plaintiffs know they must act within a specified timeframe or risk losing their right to seek compensation.
  • Reflects practical considerations: Over time, evidence deteriorates, witnesses’ memories fade, and records may be lost or destroyed. The statute of limitations takes these practical considerations into account, recognizing that the passage of time can make it increasingly difficult to litigate a claim fairly and accurately.

The Importance of Acting Quickly

While the three-year statute of limitations may seem like a long time, it’s essential to act quickly after a car accident. Here’s why:

  • Evidence preservation: Over time, crucial evidence such as witness statements, surveillance footage, and vehicle damage may be lost or destroyed. By acting promptly, your attorney can gather and preserve this evidence to support your claim.
  • Accurate recollection of events: As time passes, memories fade, and it becomes more challenging to recall the details of the accident. By starting the legal process early, you can ensure that your recollection of the events is as accurate as possible.
  • Timely medical treatment: Seeking medical attention immediately after an accident not only protects your health but also helps establish a link between the accident and your injuries. Delaying treatment may make it more difficult to prove that your injuries were caused by the accident.
  • Maximizing your compensation: The sooner you start the legal process, the more time your attorney will have to build a strong case on your behalf. This can help maximize your chances of receiving full and fair compensation for your injuries and damages.

Every Personal Injury Claim is Different

Each case holds its own merits and complexities. If you have questions about pending time deadlines, contact William Mattar Law Offices to speak to a personal injury attorney about the specifics of your case. Every personal injury case is unique. Let us help you file your insurance claim or your lawsuit.

Contact a Car Accident Lawyer with William Mattar Law Offices Today

If you are injured in a car accident, please do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at William Mattar Law Offices. Let our experienced car accident lawyers help you navigate the legal process. We can identify the applicable statutes of limitation for your case and ensure that you meet every deadline. 

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you obtain the settlement you deserve. Call 844-noswap444-4444 or submit the free initial consultation form on our website. 

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