How Long Do You Have to File a Lawsuit Following a Car Accident in NYC?

Acting quickly after a car accident can be the difference between getting compensation for the injuries you faced and having to pay for everything yourself out of pocket. When someone else causes your crash, NY state law allows you to take them to court to sue for damages, but there is a limited window of time in which you can file your case. The NYC car accident attorneys at The Carrion Law Firm explain how long you have following a car accident to file a lawsuit and what kinds of problems can occur if you delay filing your case.

How Long is the Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Cases in NYC?

Nearly every injury case or court case has a “statute of limitations” that governs how long you have to bring the case to court. After an injury, the limitations period begins to run. If you wait too long, the law blocks your case from being filed at all. For most injury cases, including car crash cases, New York law gives you 3 years to file your case. If the case is being filed for a loved one’s death, the time period is shorter with only a 2-year filing window.

The statute of limitations is set at 3 years to give victims a reasonable time to recover from their injuries, get evidence together, find a lawyer, and take care of other issues before filing their case. However, this 3-year deadline is often difficult to meet for seriously injured car accident victims. Calling a lawyer as early as you can in the process often allows your Brooklyn car accident injury lawyer to investigate the case in the background while you recover, potentially helping you get your case filed before the 3-year window passes.

What Happens if You File a Car Accident Case Too Late in NYC?

Three years may seem like a long time, but many people end up having their cases filed too late. When this happens, the defendant can use the statute of limitations to ask the court to dismiss the case. The court can also usually act on its own (“sua sponte”) to dismiss any case filed after the limitations period has run out.

One situation that can be especially difficult to deal with is when your case is actually filed on time and you met the 3-year statute of limitations, but then you found out your case had issues. If your attorney did something wrong in the filing process, the defendant might not have proper notice of the case. Alternatively, your lawyer could have missed that a party was responsible, such as a trucking company or a negligent repair shop whose mistakes helped cause the crash. In either case, the claim might need to be re-filed against the right parties, and if the second filing is too late, the whole case could be thrown out.

It is absolutely vital to work with an experienced, professional NYC personal injury lawyer who can make sure to meet any and all deadlines in your case. A lawyer should also do their due diligence to find any and all parties to sue and make sure that each of them has proper notice to avoid any statute of limitations issues in your case.

Can You File a Car Accident Insurance Claim After the Statute of Limitations Runs Out in NYC?

Sometimes car accident victims simply cannot get their case filed within the 3-year limitations period. If that happens, but they already have an open car accident claim, the insurance company might still pay the case after the 3-year limitations period passes. Typically, you cannot file a new insurance claim after the statute of limitations runs out, even though you’re going through insurance instead of the courts.

Even if you can continue your insurance claim after the deadline to file in court passes, it might be harder to negotiate with the insurance companies. If you were seriously injured, a major negotiation tool is the threat that an insurance claim could go to court if the insurance company doesn’t pay the damages you need. If you wait too long to file your claim, the statute of limitations will run out and you won’t have a lawsuit as a backup option.

Benefits of Filing a Car Accident Claim Earlier than the Statute of Limitations in NYC

While victims have a full 3 years to get their case filed in court, it is often better to file far sooner than 3 years. Your lawyer can begin working on your case as soon as you contact them, and starting the case earlier means getting it filed sooner. This could potentially benefit you in a few ways.

First, evidence is fresher when your Long Island car accident lawyer gets to it right away instead of months or years later. Any witnesses will have the accident fresh in their mind, so their statements and testimony are more reliable. Security camera footage that might have captured the accident may be erased or overwritten within a week or two of the accident, so acting quickly can help you secure that footage before it is lost. Additionally, pictures of the scene of the crash will more accurately reflect what it looked like on the day of the accident if you take them right away instead of years later.

Additionally, filing a case quickly can mean getting you compensation faster. If you wait too long, medical bills could stack up. All the while, your injuries could make it impossible to work to support yourself, and your economic condition could get worse and worse. Getting the case filed quickly means less time dealing with the aftermath without pay.

Call Our NYC Car Accident Lawyers for Help After a Car Crash

After a car accident, you should speak with a car accident lawyer in Queens or elsewhere in New York as quickly as you can. Call our NYC car accident lawyers to begin your case as soon as possible. Filing too late can mean losing your chance at compensation, so talk to an attorney as soon as you can to avoid running afoul of the statute of limitations and other filing rules. For a free legal consultation on your potential injury case, call our attorneys today at (718) 841-0083.