If you have been hurt in a car accident, the last thing that you want to worry about is how long you have to file a lawsuit. Yet under New York law, there are very strict deadlines for filing legal claims — and these deadlines depend on a number of factors, such as who was involved in the crash.
It can be incredibly overwhelming, particularly if you are already dealing with a painful recovery from your injuries. Fortunately, with the help of a Long Island car accident attorney, you don’t have to do it alone. Read on to learn more about the statute of limitations for New York car accident claims — and how you can get assistance if you have been hurt in a car crash.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a legal term that is essentially a time limit to file a lawsuit. In personal injury cases, it is the time that you have to file a legal claim after an accident or an injury. If you do not file a lawsuit against another person or entity for their negligent conduct within the statute of limitations, a court will dismiss your lawsuit and prevent you from suing the person who caused your injuries.
For example, consider a situation where you were injured in a car accident in 2005. You were badly hurt, but because you were focused on your recovery, you didn’t even think about filing a lawsuit until 2010.
You consult a Long Island car accident attorney, who immediately tells you that you don’t have a case. Why? Because the statute of limitations has run out, and either the other party will move to dismiss the case or the court will dismiss it if you attempt to file a lawsuit.
This probably seems unfair, particularly if you are a victim of a car accident and have suffered serious injuries. However, the rule makes sense for both injured parties (plaintiffs) and those who are responsible for the accident (defendants).
Witness memories can fade over time, so that their recollections are not accurate. It is also very difficult to collect evidence after an extended period of time, which can make it nearly impossible to prove a case. Many businesses, government agencies and hospitals may destroy or delete paperwork, documents, videos, photographs and other forms of evidence after a certain period of time — all of which could be critically important to your claim.
In that sense, the rule encourages plaintiffs to file a suit in a timely manner, so that their case is brought while the evidence is fresh and they have the best chance of succeeding. Finally, this rule protects defendants from the threat of being sued for the rest of their lives over something that may have happened a long time ago.
Once you have filed a lawsuit, the statute of limitations is no longer an issue. If the initial deadline has been met, then you can move forward with your case.
New York Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Cases
In New York, the statute of limitations for car accident cases is three years. This means that after you are in a car accident, you have three years to file a lawsuit — or else risk your case being thrown out entirely. Because the clock generally starts running immediately after your accident, it is important to consult a Long Island car accident attorney as soon as possible after you are injured.
Consider a situation where you were involved in a car accident on March 15, 2016. You may have put off seeking legal help because you were more concerned with dealing with the immediate effects of the accident, like dealing with medical bills.
However, now that it is 2019, the deadline to file a lawsuit is fast approaching. If you want to recover damages for your injuries, you should talk to a lawyer immediately to learn more about your rights and your options.
There is one exception to the three-year statute of limitations rule. If a loved one is killed in a New York car accident, the statute of limitations is just two years. These cases are considered wrongful death claims, and must be filed as such. The statute of limitations in wrongful death lawsuits in New York is two years.
When Does the Statute of Limitations Begin to Run?
As a general rule, the clock starts to run on the date that the accident happens. However, in some cases, such as when a victim initially survives a car accident, but later dies, the statute of limitations does not run from the time of the accident. Instead, it runs from the time of the victim’s death, for the wrongful death lawsuit.
There are also situations in which the statute of limitations is tolled, or paused. For example, if a minor (a person under the age of 18) is injured in a Long Island car accident, then the statute of limitations is tolled until three years after his or her 18th birthday to file a lawsuit. A skilled Long Island car accident attorney can analyze the facts of your case to determine whether the statute of limitations has run.
There may also be special cases where the statute of limitations for Long Island car accident cases is shorter than two years, such as if the government was involved in the crash. In New York, you have just 90 days to file a formal claim against a city, county or the state of New York. There is a one-year statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit against a city or county in New York.
How a Long Island Car Accident Attorney Can Help
The attorneys of Siler & Ingber are committed to working with our clients to help them get the compensation that they deserve. With a 98% success rate, we have the experience and the know-how to help our clients achieve a favorable outcome.
If you have been hurt in a car accident, we are here to help. Contact us today at 1-516-294-2666, or contact us online anytime to schedule a free initial consultation with a Long Island car accident attorney. We never charge a fee unless we recover money for you.