New York Personal Injury Laws & Statutory Rules
If you've been injured in an accident in New York, make sure you understand these rules before you start your personal injury case.
After an accident or injury in New York, you might be wondering which state laws will affect your case. In this article, we’ll provide an overview of a few New York laws that may come into play if you’re taking legal action after an injury -- whether via an insurance settlement or a personal injury lawsuit.
Time Limits for Injury Lawsuits in New York
All states have placed limits on the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit in the state’s civil court system after you have suffered some type of harm. This kind of law is called a statute of limitations, and there are different deadlines depending on what type of case you want to file.
In New York, the statute of limitations for personal injury cases gives an injured person three years from the date of the injury to go to court and file a lawsuit against those responsible for the injury (or for the underlying accident).
Why is this law important? Basically, if you fail to get to the courthouse before this three-year window closes, the New York court system will likely refuse to hear your case at any time in the future, and your right to compensation will be lost. The New York statute of limitations on personal injury cases can be found at N.Y. Civ. Prac. R. section 214.
New York Laws on Shared Fault
In some personal cases, the person or business you are trying to hold liable for your injuries may make the argument that you're actually to blame (at least partially) for the incident that forms the basis of your claim.
If you do share some level of liability, it can end up affecting the total amount of compensation you can receive from other at-fault parties.
In shared fault injury cases, New York follows a “pure comparative negligence rule.” To put this rule in the simplest of terms, it means that the amount of compensation you're entitled to receive will be reduced by an amount that is equal to your percentage of fault for the accident.
How does it work? Let’s say you're in acar accident where the other driver made a left turn in front of you, but you also happened to be driving a few miles an hour above the posted speed limit. In that case, you might share 10 percent of the blame for the accident, while the other driver is 90 percent at fault. Your damages add up to $10,000. How does your share of the fault affect your compensation? Under New York's pure comparative negligence rule, your compensation will be reduced to $9,000 (or the $10,000 total minus the $1,000 that represents your share of fault for the accident.)
Keep in mind that, while courts in New York are obligated to follow this rule in an injury lawsuit that makes it to trial, it may be a different story if you're dealing with an insurance adjuster outside the court system. Don't be surprised if the adjuster raises the issue of New York’s comparative negligence rule during settlement talks, but you’re free to negotiate what the impact of that rule should be on your claim.
No-Fault Law For Car Accident Cases
If your personal injury case arose from a car accident, you may be limited in your options to recover compensation due to the State's "no-fault" law. This rule forces you to collect first from your own insurance policy, no matter who caused the accident (unless you meet the "serious injury" threshold). For more on this issue, see this page on No-Fault Car Accident Claims.
Owner Liability For Injury by a Dog or Other Animal
There is no specific statute in New York governing personal injury liability for dog bites. Owners will be held liable for injuries caused by their dog (or other animal) if the injured party can show that the owner “should have known” the animal was dangerous. This is known as the “one bite” rule.
Injury Claims Against the Government
If your injury occurred due to the negligence of an employee or agency of the government --whether at the local or state level -- in New York, you’ll need to play by a different set of rules if you want to get compensation for your losses. The first step is usually to file a formal claim with the proper government agency, and give them time to respond.
Here is a quick summary of the rules in New York:
- You have 90 days to file a formal claim against a city in New York, and one year to file a lawsuit against a city. (N.Y. Gen. Mun. Laws § 50-e.)
- You also have 90 days to file a formal claim against a county in New York, and one year to file a lawsuit. (N.Y. County Law § 52.)
- You have 90 days to file a claim against the state of New York (or notice of intent to file claim if, within the 90 days, you are unable to arrive at a final claim figure, such as if medical treatment is incomplete). (N.Y. Court of Claims Act § 10.)
If your injury claim involves the government -- city, county, state or federal -- see our area on these types of cases.