Possible Exceptions to New York’s Personal Injury Statute of Limitations
Under New York law, a personal injury victim has three years from the date of the incident to file a lawsuit seeking damages from potentially liable defendants. Typically, this statute of limitations is a hard and fast rule, preventing even meritorious claims from being brought even one day past the deadline. However, there are situations where justice and/or public policy favor an exception for one reason or another, so if you’re beyond the three-year timeframe but believe you have a valid justification, you should speak with a qualified personal injury lawyer.
Exceptions to the state’s personal injury statute of limitations include:
- Victims who are under the age of 18 or lack capacity — Under CPLR § 208, minors and individuals who have a legal disability that prevents them from exercising their legal rights are given a reprieve on filing deadlines. Typically, the clock begins to run when a child reaches 18 years of age or when the disability no longer exists.
- Departure of defendant from New York State — New York has measures to prevent a potential defendant from avoiding their legal responsibility by leaving the state for an extended period or changing their name. If the person who caused your injury is absent from New York State for at least four months within the three-year statute of limitations period, but before a lawsuit is filed, you might receive an extension on when you can file a lawsuit.
- Injuries and illnesses that are not reasonably discoverable — Illnesses caused by toxic exposure, medical misdiagnoses and other types of harm might not appear until years after the defendant’s negligent or intentional acts. Accordingly, the discovery rule pauses the statute of limitations timeframe until the effects are identified or reasonably could have been discovered.
- Major events — For eight months during the COVID-19 pandemic, statutes of limitation were tolled in civil claims because of lockdown rules, closed courthouses and the potential danger associated with face-to-face meetings. Though this might be an extreme case, there could be other events that stop the clock for a shorter period of time.
- Public interest considerations — Recently, New York created a window for sexual abuse claims so that they could be filed even when the standard statute of limitations had expired years earlier. In situations of extraordinary public interest, similar legislation might be considered.
The experienced New York personal injury attorneys at Jakubowski, Robertson, Maffei, Goldsmith & Tartaglia, LLP can answer your questions about statute of limitations issues and other aspects of the litigation process if you have been hurt due to someone else’s carelessness or willful misconduct. We serve clients throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties.