Statute of Limitations

What Is a Statute of Limitations?

In civil matters, a statute of limitations is a type of law that establishes how long after an event an injured party has to file a lawsuit or bring a civil action. Once the statute of limitations runs out, you have no legal right to seek compensation. In New York, this period ranges generally from one to six years from the date the incident occurs or, in some cases, from the date the victim discovers the injury.
For criminal offenses, a statute of limitations establishes how long after the commission of a crime the prosecutor can press charges. For many lesser offenses, the New York statute of limitations ranges from three to six years. For capital crimes, such as murder, New York has no statute of limitations.
The personal injury attorneys at Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C., can help you pursue your case before the statute of limitations runs out. Call our office today at 631-600-0000 for a free case evaluation.

How Do Statutes of Limitations Affect a Personal Injury Case?

Victims of a personal injury, such as medical malpractice, defective medical devices, dangerous drugs, or defective product accidents, do not have an open-ended opportunity to seek remedy through the court system. Instead, victims must pursue any legal action through the court system within the statute of limitations for the specific wrong.
If you attempt to file a lawsuit after the statutory period expires, the defendant can petition the court to dismiss the case. They are likely to succeed, since your allowable time period to file a legal complaint with the court has expired.
Although the point of implementing statutory limitations is to help discourage the filing of fraudulent and frivolous court actions, these laws can sometimes harm or discriminate against an individual who sustained an injury due to the negligence of another person or an entity.
If the victim did not know they sustained harm until after the statute of limitations expires, they may be unable to hold the at-fault party responsible.
If you are currently negotiating with an insurance company for an out-of-court settlement, keep the statute of limitations in mind. If the time limit approaches expiry and you still have no settlement, you may need a lawyer to file a lawsuit to protect your legal right to pursue fair compensation.

What Are the New York Statutes of Limitations?

New York’s statutes of limitations vary based on the type of case in question. However, most are at least one year. Some common personal injury accidents we see include the following time limits:

  • After a car accident, you have three years from the date of the crash to file suit;
  • If someone’s negligence caused you emotional distress, you have three years from the date it occurred;
  • In a medical malpractice case, you must file suit within two-and-a-half years of the treatment;
  • In a product liability case, you have three years from the date your injury occurred;
  • You must file suit in a slip and fall case within three years of the accident; and
  • You have two years from the date of death to file a wrongful death

New York imposes no statutory limitations on criminal offenses including murder, some instances of arson, and any crime that warrants Class A felony charges.

What If the Statute of Limitations Runs Out?

Once the statute of limitations runs out, the victim of a civil wrong—or a tort—is time-barred from seeking legal reparation.
If you file a civil action after the time limit has expired, the court will likely grant a dismissal of the case. Once the court dismisses your case, you will lose the legal right to pursue any further remedy.

Are There Exceptions to a Statute of Limitations?

New York law does make three notable exceptions to the limitation statues.


If you suffered any type of injury or damage due to a town, village, city, county, or state government agency, you only have 90 days to serve that entity with legal notice of your intent to sue. Once you provide notification, you have another 12 months to file legal action. However, the entity has 30 days from the date of notice to respond to you and possibly attempt to settle the matter.


If the victim is a minor, the applicable statute of limitations period does not begin until the minor turns 18.

Latent Conditions

If you can legally demonstrate that your situation warrants a deadline extension—known as tolling—you may have a longer period to pursue a claim. For example, this exception may apply if a harmful side effect of a dangerous drug does not manifest for a number of years.

Can a Lawyer Help Me Resolve My Case Before the Statute of Limitations Runs Out?

If you or a loved one experienced a personal injury, damages, or wrongful death due to negligence, a lawyer can help you recover compensation before the statute of limitations expires for your case. The personal injury lawyers of Gacovino, Lake & Associates, P.C., can help you pursue your claim through whatever legal avenues necessary. To schedule a free consultation, contact us today at 631-600-0000.