How Long Do You Have to Sue After an Accident?

You have three years to sue after an accident in New York.
However, it is important to note that in most cases, you do not file suit first. You will likely need to file a claim before you sue. So, you must either settle a claim or file suit within that three-year limit.

What Happens If I File a Claim or Suit After the Statute of Limitations Passes?

If you attempt to file suit after the statute of limitations passes, the court will likely refuse to hear your case. In the unlikely event that your case does make it to court, the opposing legal counsel will most likely file a motion to dismiss, thus ending your claim.

Are There Any Circumstances That Might Affect the Time Limit?

There are circumstances that can change or pause the statute of limitations:

No-Fault Claim

New York is a no-fault insurance state. This means that you first turn to your own insurer to recover compensation. To recover compensation from your insurance company, you must file a personal injury protection (PIP) claim. While you have three years to settle what is known as a “third-party claim” (i.e., a claim against another driver) in New York, when filing a no-fault or PIP claim with your own insurer, you have:

  • 30 days to submit a written Notice of Claim
  • 45 days to submit your medical bills
  • 90 days to submit your lost earnings claim

Injury to Minors

Because a minor cannot sue on his own behalf, the clock on the statute of limitations tolls (i.e., pauses) until the minor’s 18th birthday. For example, if you were injured in a car accident at 14, you would technically have seven years to file a claim: the four-year tolling of the statute of limitations until you turn 18, and then another three years for the usual statute of limitations to expire.

(If your minor child has suffered injury due to another party’s negligence, you should not wait until the child’s 18th birthday to begin your claim. It can be much more difficult to get the evidence and testimony you need years after an accident.)

Claims Against the Government

In some cases, your liable party might be a government employee or the government itself (e.g., cases where your accident resulted from improper road maintenance or dangerous road design). Suing the government has very different deadlines. Per Section 10 of the Court of Claims Act, you only have 90 days to file a Notice of Claim and a year and 90 days to file your claim.

Wrongful Death

If you are filing a claim for the death of a loved one in an accident, you only have two years per N.Y. E.P.T.L. § 5-4.1.

Why Is It So Important to Know the Statute of Limitations?

It might seem like you have a long time to settle your case; however, it can take over a year to reach maximum medical improvement or just to receive a prognosis for your injuries. This leaves you with two years to gather evidence, prove your case, and negotiate with the insurance company.

In some cases, injured claimants wait a year or more to get started on their claim. Evidence is harder to obtain as it might have been lost or destroyed; in other cases, eyewitnesses move away and their memories fade. This can make it impossible to file and settle a successful claim within the three-year limit.

Call Gacovino, Lake & Associates, PLLC Now for a Free Consultation

Deciding to file a personal injury claim is not an easy decision. But our team at Gacovino, Lake & Associates, PLLC can help you gather pertinent information you need to put forth a strong case within New York’s personal injury statute of limitations.

Give us a call today to discuss your case with our personal injury team for free: 631-600-0000.