How Long After a Car Accident Can You Sue in New York?

After you’ve been in a crash, you’ll want to know how long after a car accident can you sue in New York. Every type of lawsuit in every state has a deadline for filing a claim in court. In New York, the deadline to file a legal claim is three years after the accident.

You shouldn’t wait nearly that long to consult with an attorney about your rights, so it shouldn’t be a problem. It will be if you try to file beyond the deadline because, in all likelihood, your case will be dismissed.

What is the Deadline to File a Car Accident Lawsuit?

Under New York Civil Practice Laws & Rules section 214, anyone injured in car accidents (including pedestrians, drivers, passengers, motorcyclists, or bicyclists) must have their lawsuit filed within three years of the crash date.

This applies no matter the harm you want compensation for, whether that’s pain, suffering, permanent disability, lost wages, or repairing or replacing your vehicle. This deadline is known as the statute of limitations.

If the accident kills an immediate family member, the deadline to file a wrongful death claim is two years from the date of death. If the accident involved a vehicle owned by a government entity you have only 90 days to file a notice of claim against that agency. It’s not a lawsuit. It’s a statement of the circumstances which should allow the agency to start its own investigation.

Why Is There a Deadline?

The main reason for the state legislature to set a statute of limitations is to try to prevent a party from being sued so long after an incident that it’s very difficult or impossible to gather evidence to defend themselves. Legislators didn’t want the courts filled with cases filed many years after the issue first came up.

What Will Happen If I Miss the Deadline?

The defendant will ask the court to dismiss your case if you file it late. Unless your situation falls into a narrow exception, the judge will dismiss it, and your ability to seek compensation for your injuries will end.

Some of these exceptions include:

  • If the person injured is a minor at the time of the accident, they have three years from when they become 18 to file a lawsuit. Their parent or guardian should sue on their behalf before the statute of limitations deadline gets close.
  • If the person injured was mentally incompetent at the time of the accident, the three years start running when the person becomes competent. If they’re adjudicated mentally incompetent and have a guardian, that person should sue on their behalf before the three-year deadline approaches.
  • If you discover an accident-related injury or medical condition after the three years have passed, you might be able to maintain the case. You would have to show that you acted reasonably in seeking medical attention after the accident, but that the injury couldn’t be discovered at that time. If this is your situation, the defendant will hotly contest your claim. If your case is dismissed, you may have better luck with a medical malpractice claim against the healthcare provider who may have initially missed the injury.

Missing a filing deadline is a problem you want to prevent. Though there are exceptions to the statute of limitations, getting a court to recognize that you qualify is a gamble you’ll probably lose. Don’t delay in contacting our office so we can discuss your situation.

If I Have Three Years to File a Lawsuit, Why Not Wait a Couple of Years to Contact an Attorney?

The most important reasons to call us soon after your accident is to prevent mistakes that may end your case or significantly reduce its value and to allow us to start an investigation into the accident and gather evidence. The longer that’s delayed, the more difficult it may be to collect and organize the facts, which are the foundation of your insurance claim and lawsuit.

How long after a car accident can you sue? It’s much later than when you should contact us . . . which should be right after you get medical attention for your injuries.

Critical Mistakes May Handicap Your Claims

If, after your accident, you file a claim with an insurance company, you may mistakenly say or do things you’ll regret later. You may:

  • Admit things that put more of the blame on yourself
  • Not follow your physician’s advice or not participate in physical therapy as you should
  • Post statements, photos, or videos on social media that make it appear you’re much less injured than you claim.

These things bring down the value of your case and may provide grounds for denying your claim or dismissing a lawsuit.

We can explain how personal injury and insurance law work so you can understand what you should and shouldn’t do. If you don’t appreciate how your words, actions, or lack of actions impact your claim, and you wait to call us two years after the car crash, you may have made so many mistakes that you don’t have much of a case left by then.

The Earlier We Start an Investigation, the Easier It Should Be

Evidence is the foundation of your insurance and legal claims. With it, we may be able to establish who’s to blame and how much they’re at fault. The more evidence telling us when, how, and why your accident happened, the better.

This includes going to the accident site and looking at the conditions, which may change over time. Witnesses may be harder to find and contact as time passes. The area’s security camera recordings, which may be critical to your case, may be quickly erased.

The earlier we start, the easier it should be to investigate your case thoroughly. As time passes, there may be more gaps in the facts, and the insurance company will try to poke more holes in your claim. You want to make their job more difficult, not ours, so reach out to us as soon as possible.

How Long After a Car Accident Can You Sue? A Car Accident Lawyer Can Get Your Case Started Long Before That Deadline Approaches.

Ask a car accident lawyer to review the facts of your case to determine how the law may apply and your best options to be compensated for the harm you suffered. For a free consultation, call Kaplan Lawyers at (516) 399-2364.

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