How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in New York State?

How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Lawsuit in New York State?

Personal injury actions have strict time frames called statutes of limitations in place. There are several crucial time limits in a car accident case, beginning almost immediately with filing a No-Fault application with the appropriate insurance company for car accident-related medical expense coverage. There are also different time limits imposed on commencing a lawsuit, depending on the facts and circumstances of your case. It’s essential that you are aware of the applicable time limits and don’t miss any deadlines to avoid your claim being barred.

Filing for No-Fault Benefits
Generally, the first time limit in a car accident case that comes up concerns filing for No-Fault benefits. If you require medical treatment for car accident injuries, you only have thirty days to submit an “NF-2” application with the insurance company that will be providing your No-Fault benefits. 

It’s extremely important to not miss the deadline to file for No-Fault benefits — even if your injuries are minor, medical bills and lost wages can add up quickly. New York’s No-Fault insurance will pay for up to $50,000 of your medical expenses and up to $2,000 a month for lost wages.   

The time limit to file a No-Fault application is very strict. If the NF-2 is not received within 30 days, the insurance company may deny your claim unless you can demonstrate reasonable justification as to why it wasn’t. Make sure you have proof of mailing for any NF-2 you send in the mail in case a dispute should later arise. 

Car Accidents Involving Municipalities
Sometimes, car accidents involve government entities or municipalities. For example, if you were in an accident with a city-owned vehicle, or if the accident was caused by conditions due to a poorly maintained city street, that municipality may be held liable. In these cases, you may be required to file a notice of claim. This must be served upon the municipality within 90 daysfrom the date of the accident.

A notice of claim must be very specific and include numerous details about the accident. It gives the appropriate municipality the opportunity to investigate any claims that are filed against it before a lawsuit is commenced. As part of their investigation, a 50-H hearing may be requested. This hearing gives a municipality the opportunity to ask the injured party a series of questions about the accident and their medical treatment. If you fail to file a notice of claim within 90 days, your claim may be dismissed. 

Filing an Action in Court
One purpose of the statutes of limitations is to allow both sides a fair opportunity to present their case. A motor vehicle accident case can involve conducting discovery, including:

  • Preserving evidence
  • Deposing witnesses
  • Obtaining records
  • Independent Medical Examinations (IMEs)
  • Interrogatories

All of these aspects of a case can be adversely affected as more time goes by.   

If you suffered injuries in a car accident, you only have three years to file a negligence suit in court to recover damages for your injuries. If the accident involves a municipality, such as the City of New York, you only have one year and 90 days to file a lawsuit.

However, if your car accident resulted in the death of a loved one, the time limit to recover damages for wrongful death is only two years from the date of death — this date may not be the same as the date of the accident.  If the case is a wrongful death case against a municipality a notice of claim needs to be filed within 90 days of the appointment of a personal representative for the decedent’s estate.

There is an important exception — if one of the victims was under the age of eighteen at the time of the accident, the statute of limitations to file a personal injury action is extended. In these cases, the injured party has three years to file a lawsuit from the time they reach the age of majority. This means that the statute of limitations is tolled and starts running on the victim’s eighteenth birthday.  

Contact an Experienced New York Car Accident Attorney
If you were injured in a motor vehicle accident, you should contact a personal injury attorney immediately who can advise you of your legal rights and avoid any applicable statutes of limitations from running out. An experienced car accident attorney can help you recover the compensation you deserve for your injuries, medical expenses, and time lost from work.

The Popick Law Firm has over thirty years of experience in obtaining compensation for victims of car accidents. Located in Flushing, Queens, The Popick Law Firm handles personal injury and auto accident cases in Queens, Brooklyn, Manhattan, the Bronx, as well as Nassau and Suffolk counties. Contact The Popick Law Firm today for a consultation.