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Is There A Time Limit To Start My Case?


time limitOur Experienced Personal Injury Attorneys Explain Some Important Things You Need To Know About A Time Limit Known as the Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitation is the time limit that you have to start a legal case.  There is no one time limit under the law.  Instead, the amount of time you do have depends on many factors.  Here are some important things you need to know about statutes of limitation.

What is a statute of limitations?

A statute of limitation is the amount of time you have to start a lawsuit. The amount of time you have depends on many factors, including the type of case, the identity of the defendant, the identity of the plaintiff as well as many other factors.  As a result, it is difficult to know the statute of limitations for a particular case, unless there is enough information to do the legal analysis.

For example, a car accident claim must usually be started within 3 years of the date of the accident.  However, if the plaintiff is an infant, that three year time period begins to run only after the infant turns 18.  So if the infant is injured when he is 10 years old, he can wait almost 11 years to file a lawsuit (8 years to turn 18 and another 3 years for the standard car accident statute of limitations)   In contrast, if the defendant in a car accident case is the City of New York, and the plaintiff is not an infant, you only have 1 year and 90 days to file a lawsuit, with the added requirement that a Notice of Claim be filed within 90 days of the accident.

Needless to say, it is always important to contact an attorney immediately to avoid missing the statute of limitations for your case. We have provided a listing below of some basic case types and the general rules covering their statutes of limitation – although you should always consult with an attorney for an analysis of the specific time limits that apply to your case.

What is the Statute of Limitations in a Medical Malpractice Case?

A person who is injured because of the negligent actions or omissions of a doctor, health care professional, or hospital may be a victim of medical  malpractice.  There are numerous types of medical malpractice, including failures to diagnose and surgical malpractice.

Medical malpractice claims must be commenced within 2 years and six months of the malpractice.  There are also special rules in malpractice cases that can extend this time, including when the doctor you are suing as been continuously treating your condition for more than 2 years and 6 months.  There are also special rules covering birth injury cases that can significantly extend the period of time you have to commence an action.

Another situation that arises in medical malpractice cases is when a foreign object is left in the body during surgery.  At times, a surgeon can carelessly leave a sponge, tubes, scissors or even clamps inside the body of a patient during surgery.  When this happens, it is not uncommon for a patient to go many years before discovering the foreign object.  Fortunately, New York permits an extension of the statute of limitations once the the foreign object is discovered.

Further, the New York Legislature has adopted an extension of time beyond 2 years and six months for cases involving the failure to diagnose injury lawyersbreast cancer, colon cancer and other types of cancer.  This law is known as Lavern’s Law.  Prior to this law, a patient only had 2 years and 6 months from the date the doctor missed the cancer diagnosis to start a lawsuit.  The problem with this rule, though, was that many patients had no idea they had cancer before the 2 year and 6 month time limit expired because, of course, their doctor failed to diagnose that they had cancer.

Fortunately, the law has been changed to address this problem in the failure to diagnose cancer case.  Under the new law, a patient now has 2 years and six months from the date that the patient knew, or should have known, about the cancer misdiagnosis to start a lawsuit.  There is, however, an outside limit of 7 years from the date of the misdiagnosis to start the action.

What is the Statute of Limitations in a Car Accident Case or Other Personal Injury Case?

Claims involving car accidents, premises liability, or other personal injury claims must be filed within 3 years, provided that the defendant is a private defendant.  This means that the lawsuit must be filed in Court before three years passes.  If the claim is for assault and battery, however, the statute of limitations is only one year.

What is the Statute of Limitations in a Wrongful Death Case?

Wrongful death cases must be started within 2 years of the date of death. The complication with wrongful death cases is that the case must be commenced by a representative of the Estate of the person who died.  To be a representative of an Estate, you must be appointed and approved by the Surrogate’s Court.  At times, the appointment process can take a considerable period of time.

What is the Statute of Limitations for Cases Against New York City?

Claims against New York City must usually be filed within 1 year and 90 days. However, you are not permitted to file a lawsuit unless you first:  file a Notice of Claim within 90 days of the incident; submit to a hearing about your claim; and undergo a physical examination by a doctor of the City of New York’s choosing, if it requests that you do so.

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If you have any questions concerning this area of the law, you can contact our experienced personal injury attorneys for a free consultation by email or by calling (800) 762-9300.  You can also get started by simply filling out one of our case intake forms, and we will have one of our attorneys get right back to you.