After any kind of injury in New York—including from car accidents, dog bites, and slip and fall incidents—you might be wondering about laws that could affect any personal injury claim you decide to bring.
In this article, we'll discuss the time limits that apply to filing a personal injury lawsuit in New York, how your injury claim might be affected if you're partly at fault for the underlying accident, and more.
All states have placed limits on the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit in civil court 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 most kinds of personal injury cases gives you three years from the date of the injury to go to court and file a lawsuit against whoever you think caused your accident.
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. Civil Practice Law & Rules section 214.
Certain situations could alter or extend the applicable filing deadline in New York, including:
In New York, most personal injury lawsuits are filed in the state's Supreme Court system, which, despite its name, isn't the top court in the state, but the one that has statewide jurisdiction over most civil cases. There is one Supreme Court courthouse in each of the 62 counties in the state of New York. Chances are, you'll file your lawsuit in the courthouse that's in the county where the person you're suing lives, or where your injury occurred.
Your New York personal injury lawsuit will usually start when you file:
A few more points on where to file your personal injury lawsuit in New York:
In some personal injury 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 led to 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. (Get the basics on determining fault for an accident.)
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.
Let's say you're in a car 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 medical bills and other losses add up to $10,000. 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.
If you're injured in a car accident in New York, your options to recover compensation could be limited. New York is a no-fault car insurance state, which means that when you're injured in a car accident, you turn first (and often exclusively) to your own car insurance policy to get compensation for your medical bills and certain other economic losses, regardless of who caused the crash.
You can usually only step outside the confines of no-fault and file a liability claim (or personal injury lawsuit) against the at-fault driver if your claim meets the "serious injury" threshold in place in New York. That means you've experienced any of the following because of the car accident:
If your injuries qualify, you can hold the at-fault driver responsible for the accident, and you can pursue compensation for all categories of losses, including pain and suffering and other non-economic damages (which aren't available in a no-fault claim). Get more details on no-fault car accident claims.
New York dog owners will often be held liable for injuries caused by their dog (or other animal) if the injured person can show that:
Learn more about New York dog bite laws.
If your injury involved 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 filing a formal claim with the proper government agency within 90 days, and giving them time to respond.
A lot of states place a limit or "cap" on how much compensation ("damages" in the language of the law) an injured person can receive in court if their lawsuit is successful. Most of these caps only apply to certain kinds of lawsuits (like medical malpractice cases), and to certain types of damages (most often to "non-economic" damages like compensation for "pain and suffering").
New York has no caps on damages in injury lawsuits.
For more information on how the claims process works after an injury, see:
If you've been injured in an accident, you might need more than just information. For a full understanding of your best course of action, learn how to find the right personal injury lawyer for you and your case.