Unlike serious criminal offenses, such as murder, statutes of limitations apply to most types of civil cases in the United States. For example, this is true for car accident cases, although the length of time a victim has to pursue legal action varies among states and jurisdictions.
In this article, we are looking at statute of limitations car accident cases in New York to help you fight for the justice you deserve before it’s too late.
The Purpose of a Statute of Limitations
Statutes of limitations set a time limit on a person’s right to file a lawsuit in the court system. These laws are established to protect defendants, to encourage potential plaintiffs to pursue cases in a reasonable time frame, and to protect timely evidence needed to prove a claim.
Car Accident Statute of Limitations New York Law
As a general rule in New York and in most cases, the statute of limitations for car accident cases is three years. This means that you have up to three years from the date the accident happened to file a lawsuit and pursue compensation for damages suffered. There are significantly shorter limitations periods in auto cases involving municipalities and public agencies. That is why it is important to contact a lawyer immediately after an accident.
Discovery Rule for Statute of Limitations After a Car Accident
Although three years is the standard statute of limitations in New York for car accident cases, there are some ways to adjust this time frame in certain circumstances. For example, under the discovery rule, a New York attorney may argue that the statute of limitations shouldn’t begin until the injury was discovered. This argument is more common in cases involving issues like asbestos exposure that later results in lung cancer, rather than for car accidents, but it is still a good rule to be aware of for all personal injury situations.
Other Special Considerations and Exceptions
Another exception is if a car accident involves a minor victim under the age of 18. Statutes of limitations delayed for injured minor victims until three years after his/her 18th birthday. To potential recover damages and receive compensation, car accident victims who were minors at the time of an accident must file a lawsuit by their 21st birthdays.
If a person involved in a car accident died because of the accident, then it is typically most appropriate to pursue a wrongful death claim. In this situation, the statute of limitations to file a wrongful death lawsuit is two years from the date of the person’s death.
How to Protect your Car Accident Case
Whether your car accident case involves injuries, wrongful death, minors, or any other special circumstances, the Law Office of Jeffrey K. Kestenbaum can help. We are very experienced in Brooklyn auto accident law and know what it takes to pursue the at-fault party to get the justice you deserve.
Please contact us at 718-237-5586 to schedule your free consultation, and don’t delay because every day that passes is one day closer to your case’s statute of limitations.