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New York Personal Injury Statute of Limitations – Timeline to File

If you were injured due to someone else’s actions—negligent or intentional—you have a limited amount of time to file a lawsuit. Statutes of limitations are laws that specify how long after certain events a case can be started based on those events. The New York personal injury statute of limitations normally gives three years from the date of injury to file a lawsuit.

Consulting an experienced White Plains personal injury attorney is crucial for understanding and meeting the all-important statutory deadline. Failure to file on time will result in the forfeiture of your right to seek the legal compensation you deserve for your injuries.

What is New York's personal injury statute of limitations?

Deadlines to File a Lawsuit in New York by Type of Accident

Statutes of limitations encourage the prompt filing of claims, conserve judicial resources, and protect defendants from the indefinite threat of being sued. However, the deadline to file lawsuits in New York varies based on the type of accident or injury.

Again, the New York personal injury statute of limitations for negligence (i.e., accidental and unintentional) cases is normally three years from the date of injury. This applies to:

For cases of emotional distress, the deadline is three years if it was caused negligently and one year if it was intentional. Assault and battery also have a one-year deadline. Medical malpractice cases must be filed within two and a half years, and wrongful death cases must be filed within two years.

How Long Do You Have to Sue a Government Agency?

Lawsuits against both New York State and local governments or municipalities have different rules, including important deadlines regarding the statute of limitations.

If you are suing the State of New York, or one of the State’s authorities such as the New York State Department of Transportation, your case will be brought in the New York State Court of Claims. To begin the case, a document called a Notice of Claim must be filed, within 90 days of the incident in cases of negligence, intentional torts, and wrongful death claims. This notice must be served upon the Clerk of the Court of Claims and a copy must be served on the Attorney General.

If you are suing a local government or municipality, including cities, villages, towns, counties, school districts, or fire districts, the action will be brought in the County Court or Supreme Court, depending on the circumstances. Before your lawsuit can be filed, the municipality must be served with a Notice of Claim within 90 days of the incident. Unlike the Notice of Claim filed with the State, the Claim in these cases is served directly upon the municipality, and not with the Court. Then, you must file your lawsuit within a year and 90 days.

Injury cases brought against the federal government and its authorities are governed by the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA). Typically, the statute of limitations to bring an injury claim against the federal government and/or its authorities is  two years from the date of injury.

Are There Exceptions to the New York Statute of Limitations?

There are several exceptions to New York’s personal injury statute of limitations. For minors under the age of 18 and individuals who have a legal disability that prevents them from exercising their legal rights, the three-year deadline is counted down from the time the person gains or regains the ability to make legal decisions on their own behalf. In other words, the statute of limitations to file a personal injury lawsuit begins to run when a minor turns 18 or when the individual’s legal disability no longer exists.

The statute of limitations may also be paused (“tolled”) if the person who caused an injury is absent from New York State for a least four months within the 3-year statute of limitations period, but before the lawsuit is filed. The State enacted this measure to prevent potential defendants from avoiding legal responsibility, through changing their name or leaving New York for a period of time.

Additionally, the “discovery rule” creates an exception that pauses the statutes of limitations timeframe until the date an injury is actually discovered or could reasonably have been discovered. This often applies to cases involving latent injuries, especially those involving exposure to toxic substances. The reasoning behind this is that illnesses caused by certain types of harm, such as medical misdiagnoses or toxic exposure, may very well not appear until many years after the wrongdoer’s negligent or intentional actions.

Civil lawsuits can survive the death of either the injured party or the wrongdoer, with specific timeframes for filing or refiling after the death of the individual. If the case was initially timely filed, but the injured party dies, the case can be re-filed up to one year after death. If the wrongdoing party dies, the statute of limitations is delayed for 18 months after the death.

Importantly, New York has a “lookback window” provision which allows victims of childhood sexual abuse, of any age, who have been time-barred by an expired statute of limitations, to have an extended window of legal recourse. Previously, victims had a one to five year time period, beginning after the victim turned eighteen, to file a civil claim against their abuser(s). The statute of limitations was extended so that victims filing a civil lawsuit can legally do so until they turn 55. In addition, where a childhood sexual abuse claim is against a state, municipality, or school district, you do not have to file a Notice of Claim as would typically be required against those entities.

Can You Sue After the Statute of Limitations?

If you don’t file a personal injury lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires, you essentially lose the ability to sue. If you miss this very important deadline, your case will almost certainly be dismissed without being heard—regardless of how convincing your evidence is.

Keep the filing deadline in mind even if you don’t think you’re going to sue. Would-be defendants and their insurers might agree to a higher out-of-court settlement simply to avoid time-consuming and expensive litigation. In other words, your ability to sue gives you bargaining power in settlement negotiations. That leverage will disappear if you miss the deadline set by the statute of limitations.

Contact Lever & Ecker Before the NYC Statute of Limitations Runs Out

Our skilled personal injury attorneys have more than 70 years of combined experience helping accident victims recover high-value settlements and verdicts for their injuries and losses. We can help you determine the best path toward meaningful compensation for your damages. Among other things, we will ensure your case is filed before the all-important New York personal injury statute of limitations.  

At Lever & Ecker, we offer 24/7 availability, legal document reviews, thorough case investigations, insurance claim negotiations, and top-tier representation in court. Our award-winning personal injury lawyers have successfully represented countless accident victims throughout New York.  

Contact us online or by calling (914) 288-9191 to schedule your free consultation. We take personal injury cases . . . very personally.®