How Much Time Do I Have to Start a Lawsuit?

Many people ask, how much time do they have to start a lawsuit when they have been injured in an accident or as the result of medical malpractice?

First of all, if you are injured in an accident, you must first seek medical attention. After that, you should call a lawyer who is experienced in accident and injury cases.

To answer the question, all lawsuits have a time limit in which you must start the lawsuit, and when that time limit has expired, you can no longer sue. This is called a statute of limitations. In a negligence case such as a motor vehicle accident or slip and fall case, the general time limit in New York State is three years from the date of the accident. After three years, you can no longer sue to recover for your injuries no matter how severe they are. In many cases, the time limit is shorter. For example, if your lawsuit is against the City of New York, the general time to sue is limited to only one year and ninety days after the accident. In cases against the City of New York, there is another requirement and that is that in order to be permitted to start a lawsuit within the one-year and ninety-day period, you must first file a notice of claim within ninety days after the accident.

Different types of accident lawsuits for injury have different time limits and that may depend upon who is being sued. For example, a medical malpractice case against a private doctor or hospital has a two and a-half-year time limit from the time of the malpractice or the date of the last continuous treatment after the malpractice, but the same case against a New York City hospital facility has the one year and 90-day time limit. On the other hand, a wrongful death case against a private person or entity and the City of New York, each have the same two-year limit. Some time limits are even shorter, such as an intentional assault case which has a one-year limit.

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There are many exceptions to these limits. For instance, there may be a toll of the time limit. A tolling is a period when the time to sue temporarily stops running. The most common toll is for a child. It is called the toll of infancy. In New York State, a person is an infant until they reach the age of 18 years. In medical malpractice cases, the tolling for infancy is 10 years from the time of the malpractice or the last continuous treatment after the malpractice, or two and a half years after the infant reaches the age of 18, whichever is shorter.

There are many other requirements. For example, in order to start a wrongful death lawsuit, a representative of the estate, called an administrator, must be appointed. It is the administrator that has the authority to start the lawsuit. In a wrongful death lawsuit against the City of New York, the time for the filing of the notice of claim is stayed until the administrator is appointed for the estate, but the lawsuit must still be started within two years of the death of the decedent.

As you can see, there are so many different types of limits restricting lawsuits that it is always best to contact a lawyer who specializes in this area of law as soon as possible or you run the risk of losing your right to recover compensation for your injuries.

by Sal Aspromonte

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