Personal injuries are stressful and time-consuming, usually requiring rehabilitation or extended stays in the hospital. Even if you are thinking about suing for compensation, you might imagine you have plenty of time.
Unfortunately, many victims are surprised to learn that New York gives them a deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit—and the consequences are severe if you go over it. Anyone hurt in a car accident, slip and fall, or other accident should contact Larson & Gallivan Law to determine whether they are approaching the deadline. OurGlens Falls personal injury lawyer can quickly get a lawsuit filed to protect your rights.
The Statute of Limitations is Usually Three Years
Every state in the U.S. sets their own statute of limitations. In New York,Section 214 of the Civil Practice Law & Rules states that you have three years to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Three years might sound like ample time to get everything together and a lawsuit filed, but you might be surprised at how quickly time flies. For example, anyone suffering a moderate traumatic brain injury could need at least two years of rehab before they feel anything like their normal self. Anyone with a serious bodily injury could also slip into depression or experience PTSD which make normal living very difficult.
What’s more, many victims hope to negotiate a settlement that makes going into court unnecessary. But negotiations could take up to a year, sometimes longer. It’s no surprise that many people suddenly find themselves bumping up against this three-year deadline.
When Does the Clock Start?
The clock usually starts the day of your accident. If you were involved in any kind of collision, or if you fell, then you can pretty easily connect your injuries to the accident. For that reason, the clock starts the day you are hurt.
What Happens if You Go Over the Deadline?
This is a nightmare scenario. Let’s say three years pass and you were busy rehabbing, going to therapy, and taking vocational therapy. Suddenly you reach out to an attorney three years after your accident.
In that case, the defendant will probably ask a judge to toss your case by filing a motion to dismiss. The defendant will point to the statute of limitations and argue that you filed your lawsuit too late.
A judge will count the days and not rely solely on the defendant’s claim. But if you really are over the deadline, then the judge will dismiss your case—permanently. This means you can’t just file in a different court. You are now barred from suing the defendant for the accident.
You lose an important right to sue. Losing this right will also impact any settlement negotiations, as the defendant knows you can’t sue them if you are unhappy with their settlement. In fact, you lose all your leverage in negotiations.
Exceptions to this Deadline
In some cases, the three-year deadline doesn’t apply. You might get more time, or you could have a shorter deadline. Let’s look at three situations.
A Minor is Injured
If your child is hurt in an accident, they usually get more time. This is considered a legal disability, because someone under 18 can’t file a lawsuit on their own behalf. (They also can’t negotiate a settlement on their own, either). Under Section 208, the clock doesn’t start until the disability is lifted—in other words, when they reach age 18.
Here is an example. Melissa is 14 when she is hit by a negligent driver while walking home from school. Because she is under 18, she has more than 3 years to file a lawsuit.
The Defendant is Hiding
You might also get more time under Section 207 of the Civil Practice Law & Rules if the defendant leaves the state or is living under a fake name. For example, if the defendant leaves New York for at least four months, then those months don’t count toward the three-year deadline.
You Are Suing the State or a City
Some people are injured in government buildings, or a government worker hurts them while on the job. To sue the state, you must file a claim in the New York Court of Claims within 90 days. That is an extremely short deadline. The same deadline applies if you are suing a municipality.
If you miss the deadline, a judge might give you more time—but it’s not guaranteed.
Contact Our Glens Falls Personal Injury Attorney Immediately
Anyone hurt in an accident should call our law firm as soon as possible at 518-862-8799. We can analyze how much time is left on the clock and quickly file a lawsuit, if necessary, to protect you.