If you wish to pursue legal action and recover compensation for an injury you suffered by the negligence or mal intent of another, you must do so on time. In New York, plaintiffs must file their claims within three years, starting with the date of the incident (or its due discovery). However, some exceptions may apply that can extend the deadline. If the statute of limitations is not met, the case will be dismissed, and justice will be stopped in its course.
A Brief Description of Statute of Limitations
Statute of limitations is the legal term of the deadline for filing a lawsuit. While personal injury cases do have a well-established statute of limitations, not all lawsuit types have one. Also, these vary between states. The clock typically starts ticking at the date the accident causing the injury.
The Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Cases in New York
According to New York Civil Practice Law & Rules Section 214, the standard statute of limitation for personal injury cases is three years. This applies to most cases caused by negligence (the majority of accidents) and intentional tort (includes purposeful actions like battery and assault). Therefore, a plaintiff has three years to collect evidence and file the initial documentation for the claim.
Repercussions of Not Respecting the Deadline
If you are serious about going through with the lawsuit, it is crucial to meet the statute of limitations. If you fail to file your documents within the specified period, you lose your ability to sue and will not recover damages for your pain and suffering. Therefore, it is best to start preparing your case file as soon as you can, following the accident. A Westbury personal injury lawyer can also help you stay on track and respect deadlines.
Several different scenarios can either pause the statute of limitations clock or extend it beyond the standard three years. Some of the most common exceptions include:
- Defendant’s departure: the time will be paused if the defendant departs from the state. However, they must leave sometime after the incident occurred but before the standard deadline expires. Also, this period of absence has to amount to a minimum of four months.
- Legal disability/minor: if at the time of the incident the victim is under 18 years of age or is under a legal disability, the timer will start only after they turn 18 or they are no longer considered to have a legal disability. Only when these conditions are met will the clock start ticking towards the standard three-year deadline.
- Discovery Rule: under this exception, the time starts running not from the date of the incident, but since it was discovered. For example, asbestos poisoning cases might qualify for this since the symptoms may become visible only after the statute of limitations.
Another set of exceptions apply to the type of personal injury lawsuit you intend to file:
- Workers’ compensation: claims have to be filed within two years of the injury or the date of your last injury.
- Medical malpractice: lawsuits typically must be filed within two and a half years.
- Wrongful death: New York has a statute of limitations of two years for such cases.
To learn more about other exceptional cases and whether you qualify for these, consult with your lawyer. After evaluating the specifics of your case, they can determine the statute of limitations you must respect more accurately.
Suffering a personal injury can be a life-changing event in many ways. The most important thing during the aftermath is to focus on your recovery. Try to avoid any additional stressors. One way to do so is to trust experts to help you. Seek out medical and even mental health care and follow the treatment plan. Also, leave the legal procedures up to a qualified lawyer. Finally, do not hesitate to lean on your loved ones for emotional support.