An auto accident is a terrible ordeal, but the crash itself is only the beginning of a complex process that follows — especially if you’ve been injured and now have medical costs and other expenses to cover.
The law in New York entitles any injured accident victim to file a claim for compensation against the party (or parties) whose negligence caused the crash.
But when do you file the claim, and how long do you have to take action?
The answer to that question is a little more complicated in New York than in some other states. We walk through the process below.
What Is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is a time limit for taking legal action. There are many different statutes of limitation in our state. Some pertain to criminal proceedings, some to breach of contract claims, some to personal injury claims, and so on.
In all these situations, the principle is the same: if you fail to take legal action (i.e. file a claim) before the statute of limitations expires, you will forever lose the chance to do so.
The State of New York strictly enforces its statutes of limitation, so understanding your time limits is extremely important. No one should miss out on justice because of an expired deadline.
How Long Do I Have to File a Car Accident Injury Claim in New York?
The statute of limitations for filing a car accident injury claim in New York is, generally speaking, three years from the date of the accident.
This is the same statute of limitations that applies to most other kinds of personal injury claims in our state.
However, many car accident claims in New York are subject to additional filing deadlines and procedural requirements.
Additionally, there are a number of exceptions to the general three-year rule.
For these reasons, it is critical that you keep reading — and that you consult with an experienced Kingston car accident lawyer as soon as possible to make sure you understand the precise timelines that might apply to your particular claim.
It’s a Process: The Timeline for Filing a Car Accident Injury Claim in New York
New York is a no-fault insurance state, which means you must look to your own auto insurance provider for financial compensation first. (Generally speaking, you can only go outside of the no-fault insurance system if you suffer a “serious injury” as defined by law, in which case the process that follows may look different for you.)
In no-fault cases, the claimant (i.e. the person seeking compensation) must meet additional filing deadlines and procedural requirements. Failure to do so can mean that your claim will get dismissed.
So how long do you have to file a car accident injury claim in New York under the no-fault insurance rules? Here’s a list of deadlines you want to keep in mind. Don’t miss any of them unless your attorney has told you they don’t apply in your case.
- Within 10 days: 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)
- Within 30 days: File a car accident claim with your own insurance provider under New York’s no-fault insurance laws (unless your claim will proceed outside the no-fault insurance system)
- Within 30 days: File for disability payments (if applicable)
- Within 90 days: File a notice of claim (if applicable)
- Within 90 days: 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 auto accident attorney about the appropriate deadline for filing a claim for lost wages, because various deadlines can apply to these types of claims.
- 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 relevant timeframe for making a claim.
- As Soon as Possible (and no later than three years): File any claims you have against an at-fault driver or other liable party. Lawsuits must be formally initiated within the three-year statute of limitations. As we will see in the next section, there are some exceptions to this statute of limitations in New York. Some of these exceptions shorten the timeframe; others extend it.
Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations for a Car Accident Injury Claim in New York
How long you have to file a car accident injury claim in New York really depends on whether your claim falls within one or more exceptions to the general three-year rule. Exceptions include:
- Claims against the city or county: Generally speaking, if your claim is against a county government or municipality (such as the City of Kingston or the City of New York), you must file a formal notice of claim within the first 90 days after the accident, and any claim or lawsuit must be filed within one year.
- Claims against the State of New York: Generally speaking, if your claim is against the state government, you must file a lawsuit or claim within 90 days of the date of the accident. (Note, however, that there are exceptions to this exception, so you should discuss the matter in detail with an experienced Kingston auto accident attorney.)
- Victims who were under the age of 18 at the time of the accident: Minors may have longer than the three-year statute of limitations to file a claim.
- When injuries aren’t apparent right away: If your injury cannot reasonably be discovered until well after the date of the accident, you may have longer to file a car accident injury claim in New York.
The NY Statute of Limitations Is Complex
Determining how long you have to file a car accident injury claim in New York is an extremely complex matter. While we have laid out some of the basic rules in general terms above, it is critical for you to understand that every single case is different, and the rules may not apply in the way you expect them to.
Never make assumptions about how much time you have to take action. You may have more or less time than you realize. Consult with a Kingston auto accident attorney as soon as possible.
Don’t Wait to File Your Personal Injury Claim
Even if you feel confident that you have plenty of time to file a claim, it’s still unwise to wait too long before talking to a lawyer.
Pursuing a claim for compensation takes time. The statute of limitations refers to the formal filing of legal action, but that’s sometimes the last step in a long process of preparation, investigation, and negotiation that precedes a filing.
You want to give yourself as much time as possible for that process to play out. In many cases, time is a form of leverage, so talking with an attorney as soon as possible is truly in your best interest.
Contact our experienced personal injury attorneys for more information or to get help with your claim. It costs nothing to see if you have a case. Use our online form or call or office (845) 303-8777.