If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident, you need to decide whether to file a claim or lawsuit quickly. After all, you can’t be injured in a car crash, wait for five (5) years, and then expect to recover damages from the at-fault party!

But just how long after a car accident can you claim injury, and what’s the process like? Read on to discover the answers to these questions and more, or contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers directly at 516-342-2200 or visit us onlineto schedule your free consultation today.

What Are The New York Auto Accident Lawsuit Statutes Of Limitations?

In New York State, there are different statutes of limitations regarding auto accident lawsuits and injury claims. The statute of limitations that may apply to your legal action depends on the nature of your claim.

Car Accident Injury Claims

New York car accident injury claims have a three (3) year statute of limitations. The statute of limitations counts from the date of the accident, not the date on which it was reported.

For example, if you or a loved one were injured in a car accident on August 2, 2022, you would have until August 2, 2025, to file a lawsuit and claim for injury-related damages. There are certain exceptions, but this is – by and large – the strict limit for car accident claims.

Product Liability Claims

If your auto accident occurs because of defective automotive parts or cars, like throttles, brakes, or steering columns, you’ll have to file a product liability claim rather than a traditional auto accident injury claim. In New York, product liability accidents have a three (3) year statute of limitations, after which they can file a claim for the same incident.

As with standard car accident injury claims, the statute of limitations applies for three (3) years from the date of the accident, not three (3) years from the date of your reporting the accident or discovering that it was a malfunctioning product or automobile part that led to your injuries.

Wrongful Death Claims

What if an auto accident leads to a wrongful death? If someone suffers fatal injuries in an auto accident in New York, the victim’s eligible surviving family members can seek out compensation through a wrongful death claim. However, they must do so within two (2) years from the date of their loved one’s death.

Note that this is not necessarily the same as the date of the accident. For example, if someone is injured on August 2, 2022, but passes away on August 5, 2022, the statute of limitations expires on August 5, 2025, not August 2.

To learn more now, call Schwartzapfel Lawyers at 1-516-342-2200 or visit us online to schedule your free consultation.

Auto Accident Injury Claims Against The State Of New York

In instances where poorly maintained roads or New York government infrastructure lead to injuries and deaths, the statute of limitations is a little different. Note: Per the Federal Employers’ Liability Act (FELA), this may also hold true in the event that a government employee is involved in an auto accident while operating a government vehicle.

Under such circumstances, crash victims may be eligible to sue the state of New York or the county or city that owns the vehicle, is responsible for road maintenance, or is otherwise responsible for the incident. Nevertheless, victims have (90) days to notify the government that they intend to sue. Then they have one (1) year from the notification date to bring a lawsuit.

Put differently, you have three (3) months to notify the government that you intend to sue if you believe it to be responsible for the incident and any injuries caused. Note, too, that once you notify the government, the statute of limitations is one (1) year.

As this process can be complicated, you shouldn’t take it on alone. Not when you don’t have to. Instead, contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers either online or at 516-342-2200 for the answers to any questions you may have.

Why Does The Statute Of Limitations Matter?

The statute of limitations matters for any car crash injury claim because it tells you the uppermost time limit before you must file a lawsuit against the at-fault party. If you pass the statute of limitations for your car crash claim, a court will probably not accept your lawsuit request.

Say that you were injured in a car accident three (3) years ago. If you try to file a lawsuit against the at-fault party three (3) years and one (1) day after the date of the original incident, your lawsuit will probably not be successful. Therefore, knowing the statute of limitations is vital if you want to recover any type of damages or compensation from a negligent party.

You might think that a few years is more than enough time to file your lawsuit, but time can pass much faster than you think. If you aren’t careful, recovery, replacing your vehicle, and other necessities can take up such a long amount of time that the statute of limitations has already expired by the time you are ready to file a lawsuit.

Claims can also be complicated if you don’t learn who is responsible for your crash until several years after the fact. In any case, as soon as you decide you want to file a lawsuit, you should speak with skilled auto accident attorneys like the ones at Schwartzapfel Lawyers. You can do this now by calling 516-342-2200 or visiting us online today to ensure that your lawsuit is not negatively affected by the statute of limitations.

Are There Any Extensions For Car Accident Claims?

Most New York courts have to comply with statute of limitations laws after a New York auto accident or crash. However, there are special circumstances that may allow you to file a lawsuit or other legal action after the statute of limitations expires.

  • If a defendant in a case leaves New York after an auto accident, it can be difficult or impossible to serve the court documents to begin the lawsuit process. The statute of limitations clock can be paused until the defendant returns to New York to prevent a defendant from simply staying away long enough to wait for the statute of limitations to expire. Here, you should also note that this holds true in cases where a defendant tries to avoid court service or hides elsewhere in New York State.
  • If the at-fault party in an auto crash provides a false identity, the court can also pause the statute of limitations clock until the true identity of the at-fault party is covered and they are served with court papers. This is also useful for the legal system, as it allows law enforcement and insurance companies to discover the true identity and location of the lawsuit defendant.
  • There are sometimes cases of delayed discovery. Victims of auto accidents may not know the full scope of damages or injuries until sometime after the fact. Under New York statute of limitations laws, the statute of limitations time clock doesn’t start until a victim discovers injury or should have logically discovered an injury. This is mostly applicable to medical malpractice cases, though it can also apply to auto accident injuries that are stealthy, internal, or otherwise hidden (such as traumatic brain injuries).
  • If a child is involved in an auto accident, courts should only start the statute of limitations clock when the child in question turns (18) if no adult or guardian took legal action on their behalf. Nonetheless, the applicability of this exception can differ from case to case. As such, it is advisable to consult with your attorney to determine whether it pertains to your future legal proceedings.

What Happens If The Statute Of Limitations Runs Out?

If the statute of limitations runs out for your particular car accident case, you will probably no longer be able to file a successful lawsuit against the at-fault party nor recover damages from them. Moreover, if your case doesn’t qualify for any of the above exceptions, a court will likely not hear your case, no matter how negligent, malicious, or at-fault the defending party happened to be during the previous incident.

When you speak with skilled auto accident attorneys like the ones at Schwartzapfel Lawyers, they will be able to explain the controlling statute of limitations and how long you have to file an action. In this way, you can begin to develop a legal strategy to make the most of the time at your disposal.

Contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers Today

To recap, in most auto accident cases, you will have two (2) to three (3) years to file a claim. Then, to ensure that this is done properly, you will want to speak with knowledgeable auto accident attorneys like the award-winning team of Schwartzapfel Lawyers.

Our attorneys have more than (150) years of combined experience and will fight to maximize your damages. For a free case evaluation and so much more, contact us online or at 516-342-2200 today.

Your future is worth fighting for. Allow us to join you in your pursuit of justice.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this page should be considered legal advice. You should seek the appropriate counsel your situation requires. For more information, call 1-516-342-2200 now!


Schwartzapfel Lawyers, P.C. | Fighting For You

Statute of Limitations chart | NY Court Help

What Is the Car Accident Statute of Limitations in New York? | Nolo

Statute of Limitations: Definition, Types, and Example | Investopedia

The Courts and Late Discovery: The Honeymoon Is Over | New York State Bar Association

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