What If You Miss the Filing Deadline for a Personal Injury Claim in New York?
The filing deadline created by the New York statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits is critically important. Unfortunately, missing the deadline may leave you without the ability to pursue a claim and be compensated. When a personal injury claim is pursued after the statute of limitations runs out, the defendant will most likely react by immediately filing a motion for a dismissal. Unless there is a valid legal cause to allow the claim to move forward, the court will most often dismiss the case.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations in New York can vary depending on the type of personal injury case, though in general victims have three years to take legal action. There are a few exceptions, however, that will allow a deadline for the filing of a personal injury claim to be “tolled” or delayed.
A delayed discovery of harm is a common explanation for requesting an extension on the statute of limitations, especially when it comes to toxic exposure cases or medical malpractice lawsuits. The statute may have expired prior to the victim:
- Discovering they were injured, or
- Discovering that another party’s negligence caused their injury.
When an extension is approved, it resets the timer on filing a lawsuit, that then starts on the date the injury was discovered or should have been.
A defendant being absent from the state in which the plaintiff (victim) filed suit, may allow for a pause in the statute of limitations until the defendant can be served. Although, providing convincing evidence that he or she is or was out of state can be difficult.
An additional exception that may lengthen the statute of limitations is an injured victim who is legally “incapacitated.” This means they are physically or mentally unable to take legal action against the liable party. For example:
- Medically disabled: such as in a coma.
- Mentally disabled
- Injured minor: in New York, minors typically have until their 21st birthday to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Once the plaintiff is fit, or no longer “incapacitated,” the clock starts running.
What To Do if the Statute of Limitations has Expired
After the statute of limitations has run out, a personal injury lawsuit will almost always be dismissed, even when the injuries and financial losses are significant. The purpose of setting a time limit is to help ensure that evidence will be available, and also reduces instances of fraud. It is always best to have your case reviewed by a knowledgeable personal injury attorney as soon as you believe you may have a case. In addition to the potential exceptions listed above, requesting a motion for permission to file a late claim may also be an option.
Getting Help with New York’s Statute of Limitations
If you have been injured in a personal injury accident, then it is important to find out your options for filing a claim as soon as possible. If you have questions about the process or when the statute of limitations deadline is, contact Sullivan Papain Block McManus Coffinas & Cannavo, P.C. Our skilled attorneys will review the details of your claim for free, and can help you determine the best course of action for your case. Reach us online or by calling (212) 732-9000.