Auto accidents are overwhelming, and no matter how serious the injuries are, you have a lot to deal with in the days and weeks that follow.
You might not have decided yet whether to file a claim. For that matter, you might not even know if you’re injured yet. Some symptoms take time to manifest.
It’s reasonable to ask, then, “How long do I have to file a car accident claim in New York?”
The short answer to that question is: there are important deadlines you cannot miss, some of them are very soon after your accident, and it’s not a good idea to delay.
The longer and more precise answer is somewhat more complicated. Our car accident lawyers have created a general guideline in this article, including a list of deadlines for filing a car accident claim in New York.
First Things First: The General Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims in New York
You might have heard the term “statute of limitations” before. It usually comes up in conversations about criminal cases or on TV shows like “Law & Order.” But statutes of limitations apply to civil claims too, including car accident claims in New York.
A statute of limitations is, simply put, a window of time. During that window, you are allowed to make a legal claim for compensation for your auto accident injuries. But once the window closes, you are permanently prohibited from making any claims relating to the matter (with very limited exceptions).
New York courts are very serious about statutes of limitation. In almost all cases, they will throw out your claim if the relevant time window has expired. That’s why it’s critical that you do not wait too long to file a car accident claim in New York.
The general statute of limitations in New York is three years from the date of the injury.
So does that mean you have three years to file your car accident claim? In most cases, yes, but it’s not quite that simple. Car accident claims come with other important deadlines you can’t ignore. That’s because most auto accident injuries in New York are subject to the state’s no-fault insurance rules, which impose a series of deadlines within that three-year period.
New York’s No-Fault Insurance Rules & How They Affect the Timeline for Your Claim
New York’s no-fault car accident laws require that you initially file any personal injury claim with your own auto insurance provider. This must be done within 30 days of the date of the accident.
In New York, every driver is required to carry Personal Injury Protection (PIP) as part of their car insurance policy. Your PIP will cover your own injuries after a car crash, regardless of who was at fault.
Depending on the circumstances of your accident, you may be able to seek compensation outside of (or in addition to) the no-fault insurance system. In other cases, however, your recovery will come entirely from your own PIP coverage. Either way, it is important that you not miss this initial 30-day deadline.
Deadlines You Need to Know
How long do you have to file a car accident claim in New York? Here’s a list of deadlines you’ll need to keep in mind. Don’t miss any of them.
- 10 days to report the accident to the New York DMV (required if there was an injury, death, or more than $1,000 in total property damage among any or all drivers)
- 30 days to file a car accident claim with your own insurance provider under New York’s no-fault insurance laws (see the previous section)
- 30 days to file for disability payments (if applicable)
- 90 days to file a notice of claim (if applicable)
- 90 days to file a claim with the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation (MVAIC), which is the agency responsible for processing certain claims, including no-fault benefits claims and uninsured motorist claims involving serious injury
- As Soon as Possible — Talk to a Kingston car accident lawyer about the appropriate deadline for filing a lost wages claim, as multiple deadlines may apply.
- As Soon as Possible — File a Supplementary Uninsured / Underinsured Motorist claim (SUM / UM claim), if appropriate. Undue delay could cause you to miss out on this important potential source of compensation. Your lawyer can talk to you about whether SUM / UM coverage applies in your case and, if so, the right timeline for making a claim.
- As Soon as Possible (and no later than three years) — Make a claim against an at-fault driver individually or against any third party. Lawsuits must be formally initiated within the three-year statute of limitations. Exceptions apply (some shortening the time windows, others extending it); see below.
While the statute of limitations is strictly enforced, there are certain exceptions that alter how long you have to file a car accident claim in New York.
- Claims against the government — In New York, claims against the state must be brought within one year, and a formal complaint must be filed within 90 days.
- Victims who were under the age of 18 at the time of the accident may have longer than the three-year statute of limitations to file a claim.
- Because every incident is unique, you should always consult a lawyer instead of making assumptions about the relevant filing deadlines in your situation. Certain factors may alter (shorten or extend) the statute of limitations and/or filing deadlines for your claim(s).
Don’t Cut It Close: Why You Should Call a Kingston Car Accident Lawyer ASAP
Car accident claims are complex. It’s never a good idea to wait before talking to a lawyer. Here’s why:
- The time period might be shorter than you realize.
- There might be deadlines and/or exceptions you aren’t aware of.
- As a matter of strategy, it is often a good idea to give notice to opposing parties early on, and to initiate negotiations sooner than later.
- Auto accident claims take time to prepare.
- Negotiations for an out-of-court settlement can be more effective when there is sufficient time for negotiations to unfold.
- There may be steps you could be taking right now to strengthen your claim’s likelihood of success (or mistakes you might be making that could hurt your claim). The sooner you consult with a lawyer on strategy and procedure, the better.
- If the first lawyer you talk to doesn’t accept your case for some reason, you want to be sure you have enough time to talk to additional lawyers.
- By hiring an attorney, you can improve your chances of recovering a larger amount of compensation.
Already Missed a Deadline?
There are some deadlines you simply can’t miss. However, there may be others that, though important, will not defeat your claim altogether. If you are concerned you already missed an important deadline, we encourage you to call our office to confirm — and to find out what it might mean for your claim.
Schedule a Free Consultation with O’Connor and Partners
Have you been injured in a motor vehicle accident in New York? If so, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation. Call our office and ask how long you have to file your car accident claim in New York. The sooner the better.
At O’Connor and Partners, we are happy to offer no-cost, no-risk consultations. Even better, if you do end up hiring us after the consultation, we will not charge a fee unless we get you money first.
Our firm fights hard to maximize compensation for the clients we represent.
We offer services to auto accident victims and their loved ones in Kingston, Newburgh, Poughkeepsie, Ellenville, the Hudson Valley, New York City, and throughout the Empire State. If you can’t come to us, we’ll come to you. Just contact us online or call 845-303-8777 to talk with an experienced Kingston car accident lawyer today.