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Is there a statute of limitations for personal injury cases?

Product Liability

There is a common legal rule used in every state that limits the time a victim has to file a lawsuit. It is known as the statute of limitations. This determines the amount of time between when an incident occurs, and a victim has to file a lawsuit for compensation. Should an accident victim not file a lawsuit within the legal statute of limitations; they could lose their right to file a claim forever.


The legal concept of a statute of limitations was first used in Roman law. During the 16th century in England, limitations were placed on how long a person could recover lost property. During the 17th century, time limits associated with taking legal action against people for their actions were instituted. The cause of action is what determined the length of a statute of limitations. The goal of this legal concept was to provide a fair way for people to face their accuser within a reasonable amount of time after an incident.


There is a different statute of limitations that applies to accidents involving government entities. In the state of New York, an accident victim is required to file a notice of claim within 90 days from the date of the incident. Filing a lawsuit against a government entity or its agencies must be done within one year and 90 days after an incident. A document known as a notice of claim to be filed must be filed with the appropriate government entity or agency. Every government entity has an appropriate location designated where the notice of a lawsuit can be served. This is covered in the Uniform Notice of Claim Act, General Municipal Law (“GML”) §50(e).

Medical Malpractice

In the state of New York, a legal action involving medical malpractice is required to be filed withing 30 months from the day of the incident that caused the injury. Should a medical malpractice action involve the presence of a foreign object inside a person’s body, the lawsuit should be filed with a court of competent jurisdiction within a year from the date the foreign object should have been or was discovered.

Discovery Rule

There are situations where it is not reasonable for a person to discover an injury or be aware they’ve been injured until a considerable amount of time has passed from the incident. It may take time for a medical condition to develop resulting from a personal injury. The discovery rule enables accident victims to file a lawsuit within a reasonable amount of time after an injury is discovered, or an injury should have been realized. This is not something that applies to victims of all accidents. Depending on the situation, post-discovery claims can be short. Should someone find themselves in this situation, they should see legal guidance immediately.


It is possible in New York to avoid the loss of filing a lawsuit when a case has gone past the state’s statute of limitations. Many attorneys will argue the statute has been tolled. This requires providing evidence that something was able to prevent the statute from being in place for a period of time. A common reason for trying to make a case for tolling is when a victim has minority status at the time of the incident. This means the injury victim was a minor when the incident occurred. According to New York Law, a minor is given three years from the date of their eighteenth birthday to file a lawsuit. When it comes to medical malpractice, the statute of limitations can’t be extended longer than ten years form the incident causing the injury. This also happens when an accident victim is proven not to have been mentally competent when the incident occurred. There are also situations impacted by a defendant’s bankruptcy. In New York, the statute of limitations has an automatic stay until the bankruptcy is concluded or the stay is legally lifted.

Out Of State

When a defendant leaves the state after causing an injury, the statute of limitation will stop running. It will not begin running again until the defendant returns to the state. This means if the statute of limitations for a particular injury is three years, and the defendant is out of the state for three years after causing the incident that resulted in injury, the state’s statute of limitations will be extended for an additional three years.

New York Statute Of Limitations

In the state of New York, there are different statutes of limitations that depend on the legal actions involved. A personal injury lawsuit must be filed with a court of competent jurisdiction within three years from the date of the incident that caused a victim damage. When it comes to product liability, the statute of limitations is three years from the date an injury occurred from the defective product. When it comes to wrongful death, the deceased’s estate has two years from the date of death to begin a lawsuit.

Insurance Companies

Many people may ignore the state’s statute of limitations in their case because they believe the insurance company will make them a reasonable offer in a short period of time. The insurance companies also knows about the statute of limitations. It the past, some of them have worked a case so it goes past the statute of limitations. Once a person files a lawsuit, an insurance adjuster will stop working the case. It will be given to the company’s legal department. An accident victim’s attorney will be very aware of the statute of limitations that affect their client’s case.