Important note: The material below is not legal advice and is not to be relied on in the absence of advice by an attorney. Only your attorney can advise you as to the applicable statute of limitations in your case. Please consult with an attorney before making any decision as to the statute of limitations in your case.
Understanding Statutes of Limitations in New York
In personal injury cases, awards and timeframes are regulated by the statute of limitations. NY residents should know the basics of these statutes and how they affect a potential legal case before filing a lawsuit. Consult an experienced attorney for advice on how these statutes pertain to your specific case.
The usual statute of limitations in New York for personal injury cases is three years. This is also the customer New York statute of limitations in negligence cases. Under state law, “The following actions must be commenced within three years: … 5. an action to recover damages for a personal injury except as provided in sections 214-b, 214-c, and 215.” (N.Y. C.P.L.R. 214)
The statute of limitations for civil sexual abuse cases depends on the age of the victim. If the victim was an adult at the time of the abuse, the statute of limitations in NY is typically 20 years. However, under the Child Victims Act, enacted in 2019, people who were sexually abused as children can pursue legal action until they are 55 years old.
“Notwithstanding the provisions of subdivisions two and three of this section, where the discovery of the cause of the injury is alleged to have occurred less than five years after discovery of the injury or when with reasonable diligence such injury should have been discovered, whichever is earlier, an action may be commenced or a claim filed within one year of such discovery of the cause of the injury, provided, however, if any such action is commenced or claim filed after the period in which it would otherwise have been authorized pursuant to subdivision two or three of this section, the plaintiff or claimant shall be required to allege and prove that technical, scientific, or medical knowledge and information sufficient to ascertain the cause of his injury had not been discovered, identified, or determined prior to the expiration of the period within which the action or claim would have been authorized and that he has otherwise satisfied the requirements of subdivisions two and three of this section.” (N.Y. C.P.L.R. 214-c)
“The personal representative, duly appointed in this state or any other jurisdiction, of a decedent who is survived by distributees may maintain an action to recover damages for a wrongful act, neglect, or default which caused the decedent’s death against a person who would have been liable to the decedent by reason of such wrongful conduct if death had not ensued. Such an action must be commenced within two years after the decedent’s death, provided, however, that an action on behalf of a decedent whose death was caused by the terrorist attacks on September eleventh, two thousand one, other than a decedent identified by the attorney general of the United States as a participant or conspirator in such attacks, must be commenced within two years and six months after the decedent’s death. When the distributees do not participate in the administration of the decedent’s estate under a will appointing an executor who refuses to bring such action, the distributees are entitled to have an administrator appointed to prosecute the action for their benefit.” (N.Y. Est. Powers and Trusts Law § 5-4.1)
New York Medical Malpractice Statute of Limitations
“An action for medical, dental or podiatric malpractice must be commenced within two years and six months of the act, omission or failure complained of or last treatment where there is continuous treatment for the same illness, injury or condition which gave rise to the said act, omission or failure; provided, however, that (a) where the action is based upon the discovery of a foreign object in the body of the patient, the action may be commenced within one year of the date of such discovery or of the date of discovery of facts which would reasonably lead to such discovery, whichever is earlier, and (b) where the action is based upon the alleged negligent failure to diagnose cancer or a malignant tumor, whether by act or omission, the action may be commenced within two years and six months of the later of either (i) when the person knows or reasonably should have known of such alleged negligent act or omission and knows or reasonably should have known that such alleged negligent act or omission has caused injury, provided, that such action shall be commenced no later than seven years from such alleged negligent act or omission, or (ii) the date of the last treatment where there is continuous treatment for such injury, illness or condition. For the purpose of this section the term “continuous treatment” shall not include examinations undertaken at the request of the patient for the sole purpose of ascertaining the state of the patient’s condition. For the purpose of this section the term “foreign object” shall not include a chemical compound, fixation device, or prosthetic aid or device.” (N.Y. C.P.L.R. 214 214-a)
New York Product Liability Statute of Limitations
The time limitation for a product liability case is the same as the New York statute of limitations for personal injury cases.
“2. Notwithstanding the provisions of section 214, the three-year period within which an action to recover damages for personal injury or injury to property caused by the latent effects of exposure to any substance or combination of substances, in any form, upon or within the body or upon or within property must be commenced shall be computed from the date of discovery of the injury by the plaintiff or from the date when through the exercise of reasonable diligence such injury should have been discovered by the plaintiff, whichever is earlier.” (N.Y. C.P.L.R. 214-c)
“The following actions must be commenced within six years … 8. an action based upon fraud; the time within which the action must be commenced shall be the greater of six years from the date the cause of action accrued or two years from the time the plaintiff or the person under whom the plaintiff claims discovered the fraud or could with reasonable diligence have discovered it.” (N.Y. C.P.L.R. 213(8))
Municipal Liability/Sovereign Immunity
New York does not have sovereign immunity, so you can sue governmental entities. However, you must file a notice of claim within 90 days of the incident in question, and you typically must file your lawsuit within a year and 90 days. Actions against the state may only be brought in the Court of Claims before a judge (no jury).
Comparative negligence applies in New York personal injury cases and diminishes the plaintiff’s recovery by the plaintiff’s degree of fault.
State law does not provide for charitable immunity.
The statute of limitations in cases where the plaintiff is unable to pursue a claim due to minor status, incompetence, or insanity typically runs from the end of their legal disability. However, the statute of limitations for a specific case may vary depending on the amount of time that would normally have been allowed, the type of case, and the age of the plaintiff. (N.Y. C.P.L.R. 208).
Punitive damages may be awarded in cases of actual malice or such wanton or reckless action as to infer malice or in personal injury actions based on negligence if such negligence amounts to flagrant misconduct. A separate trial is held on the issue after a finding of liability and compensatory damages.
In cases involving medical, dental, or podiatric malpractice, New York has enacted statutory limits on attorneys’ fees that are far less than in all other types of cases. Normally, contingent attorneys’ fees in New York are equal to one third of the net recovery after the deduction of disbursements. Thus, in a typical case, if the net recovery is $3 million, the attorneys’ fees would be $1 million (infants’ cases may be different since the court sets the fee in such cases). In a medical malpractice case, however, the attorneys’ fees would only be $450,000, since they are calculated on the following schedule: 30% of the first $250,000; 25% of the next $250,000; 20% of the next $500,000; 15% of the next $250,000; and 10% of any amount over $1,250,000.
New York is a no-fault state.
Consumer Fraud Complaints
If you need to file a complaint, contact the state Consumer Frauds Bureau online or by calling 1-800-771-7755.
Need Help With Your Personal Injury Case?
Figuring out the New York statute of limitations for personal injury cases like yours can be tricky, especially when the law contains a lot of exceptions to the rules. The easiest way to figure out when you need to file your legal claim is to contact an experienced lawyer who can evaluate your case and determine the correct New York statute of limitations. Personal injury attorneys at Parker Waichman LLP stand ready to assist you with a free consultation. Call today for help with your claim.