top of page
  • Writer's pictureAlex Maltese

Claiming Justice: How Long Can You Sue after a Car Accident in New York?

Dealing with the aftermath of a car accident in New York can feel like wading through a maze of legal jargon and statutes. One essential fact to keep in mind is the ticking clock that starts the moment an accident occurs.

In New York, victims typically have three years to file a personal injury lawsuit, thanks to the statute of limitations. The Law Office of Carl Maltese can advise on what the average settlement for a car accident case in New York is.

An understanding of these legal intricacies could mean the difference between a successful car accident case and an opportunity lost. These matters become particularly complex when the negotiation of insurance claims enters the picture.

This article will delve into the pivotal timeline following a car accident in New York, making sense of the legal stipulations that can shape the outcome of a personal injury claim.

From understanding the statute of limitations to discerning the nuances of insurance company dealings, this information will provide a comprehensive roadmap for navigating a car accident case in New York.

How Long Can You Sue after a Car Accident in New York?

How Long Can You Sue after a Car Accident in New York?

When an unfortunate event such as a car accident occurs in New York, understanding the right timeline to take action can make a significant difference in the aftermath.

A crucial first step involves reporting the incident promptly to the insurance carrier, as many providers expect policyholders to initiate the process as quickly as possible after a car accident.

In terms of seeking legal redress, the specific timeline, or statute of limitations, depends on the nature of the lawsuit.

Furthermore, the statute of limitations is three years from the incident's date for general personal injury lawsuits that could stem from car accidents or slip-and-fall incidents.

This means that if a car accident causes bodily harm, individuals have three years from the day of the accident to initiate a personal injury lawsuit.

If the accident results in a fatality, the laws surrounding a wrongful death lawsuit apply. The Estates, Powers & Trusts Act in New York stipulates that a wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two years from the death date.

Now, suppose this lawsuit is not initiated within the allotted time. In that case, the surviving family members lose the opportunity to file a case against the at-fault party, denying them the chance to recover compensation for their loss.

It's essential to bear in mind that there may be other deadlines to consider. Moreover, if a government agency is identified as the at-fault party in a car accident, victims must file a notice of claim within 90 days.

This rule applies to accidents caused by public corporation employees, such as those involving city, county, or state vehicles.

Exceptions to the Statute of Limitations in New York Car Accident Cases

When a minor is involved in a car accident, the statute of limitations typical boundaries do not apply.

Recognizing the inherent challenges that minors face, New York law stipulates that individuals injured in a car crash as minors have three years from their 18th birthday to file a personal injury lawsuit.

This provision ensures ample time for identifying any persistent injuries that might only manifest later and grants the individual the legal agency they lack as minors.

In this case, an ideal example would be if a 17-year-old was involved in a car accident.

Though the injured minor is within their rights to commence legal proceedings after their 18th birthday, they effectively have until their 21st birthday to sue the at-fault driver or any other liable party involved in their motor vehicle accident.

Extension of Statute of Limitations for Individuals with Mental Disabilities

The statute of limitations also incorporates exceptions for individuals considered of "unsound mind" at the time of the car accident.

If a significant mental disability is present or there are doubts about the individual's mental competence, the deadline for filing a car accident lawsuit can be deferred until such a time when the individual is deemed legally capable by a psychiatric professional.

However, it's not uncommon for people with mental disabilities to live with their condition for extended periods, necessitating the involvement of a guardian or power of attorney.

Despite these challenges, this exception empowers injured parties to reach a point of personal stability, enabling them to make sound legal decisions regarding their car accident claim.

Fleeing the State and the Statute of Limitations

The circumstances surrounding a car accident can take an unexpected turn, especially when the at-fault party leaves the state before the initiation of a lawsuit.

Should the party deemed responsible for the car accident exit the state for more than four months before the filing of a personal injury claim, the time they are out of state will not count towards the statute of limitations.

Dealing with Municipal Entities in Vehicle Accident Cases

In scenarios where a municipal entity is a party in a car accident case, the timeframe for filing a claim can be significantly shorter. If a city or the State of New York is liable for a car crash, a 'Notice of Claim' outlining the allegations must be served within 90 days of the accident.

Failure to serve this notice within the specified duration may lead to the dismissal of the car accident claim, denying the opportunity to recover compensation.

Discovery Rule and Its Impact on the Statute of Limitations

There are instances where an injury from a car accident becomes apparent long after the incident occurred.

Here's an example: A worker who previously handled vibrating instruments at a job can start experiencing hand tremors after changing jobs. The condition is medically traced back to the previous job so that the individual can file a personal injury lawsuit against the previous employer.

In such cases, the statute of limitations would commence from the date of injury discovery rather than when the accident occurred.

Navigating the intricacies of the statute of limitations in New York vehicle accident cases can be complex.

However, understanding the potential exceptions that could influence the lawsuit's timeline can provide clarity, whether dealing with one's own insurance provider, a liable municipality, or an at-fault driver.

While compensation recovery for medical bills and other related expenses is the objective, it's important to follow the proper legal protocols, ensuring the path toward justice is not hindered.

Dealing with No-fault Laws in Car Accident Cases in New York

In the Empire State, no-fault laws play a vital role in dictating the trajectory of car accident cases.

These regulations stipulate that an insurance claim for medical bills or lost earnings ensuing from a car accident, regardless of the party at fault, needs to be addressed to the relevant insurance company.

This could be:

  • Damages caused by a vehicle accident involving a car owned by the injured party will be covered by their insurance provider.

  • If the injured party was driving someone else's car, the car owner's insurance provider would cover the damages.

  • The insurance provider of the vehicle the injured party was a passenger in will cover the damages.

  • In the case of accidents involving pedestrians or cyclists, the damages will be covered by the vehicle's insurance company that hit them.

Understanding No-fault Insurance

No-fault insurance, which is also recognized as Personal Injury Protection (PIP), is designed to cover injury treatment costs without consideration of who caused the car accident. This coverage can usually handle minor to moderate injury expenses.

However, the costs might exceed the no-fault coverage limit for severe or catastrophic injuries. Here, the injured party often needs to recover additional expenses that go beyond the no-fault insurance coverage.

Deadlines for No-fault Claims

Victims must be prompt when dealing with no-fault claims. The application for no-fault benefits, known as 'Form NF-2,' must be filed within 30 days from the accident date. The Law Office of Carl Maltese can provid insight on how to calculate pain and suffering car accident in New York.

Delayed submissions may result in a denial of benefits from the insurance carrier, potentially causing difficulties in recovering costs such as ambulance transportation, emergency treatment, treatment costs, lost wages, and future treatment expenses.

The "Serious Injury" Criterion

To recover compensation beyond the scope of no-fault insurance coverage, the injured party must demonstrate the existence of a "serious injury" as defined under New York Insurance Law § 5102.

A serious injury includes conditions such as significant disfigurement, fractures, loss of a fetus, or permanent impairment of body organs or systems.

Also, an injury that restricts a person's daily tasks for at least 90 of the initial 180 days post-injury is considered serious. By proving a serious injury, the victim can demand compensation based on the at-fault party's auto liability insurance or pursue a negligence claim.


Dealing with the complex landscape of New York's laws for post-car accidents can be challenging. As the car insurance company can often add to the complexity, working with experienced automobile accident lawyers in Long Island becomes crucial.

Seasoned New York car accident attorneys from The Law Office of Carl Maltese can guide accident victims through this intricate process. Their expert advice and steadfast representation can make a significant difference in achieving a favorable outcome.

Therefore, without hesitation, victims should consider a free consultation with Carl Maltese's team, taking the first step towards justice and proper compensation.


bottom of page