How Long After a Car Accident in New York Can I File a Claim?
There are strict time limits for filing a car accident claim, just as there are for filing other types of lawsuits.
After a car accident, it’s normal for life to be turned upside down and unsettled for a while. This is especially true if you’re dealing with serious personal injuries. For many people, the prospect of filing a personal injury lawsuit gets pushed back by medical concerns, damaged property, the stress of time off work, and the impact of the accident on their family.
However, there are strict time limits for filing a car accident claim, just as there are for filing other types of lawsuits. You may have heard these time limits referred to as a “statute of limitations.” In New York, you have three years from the date of the car accident to file a personal injury lawsuit for a car accident. While there can be exceptions to this three-year deadline, you must meet very specific circumstances to qualify for an exception.
In short, the majority of car accident claims will be time-barred after three years. This is why it’s important to act quickly after a car accident by getting in touch with an experienced New York car accident lawyer. There are specific things you need to know about car accidents in New York. A knowledgeable lawyer can help you explain your rights.
What Is No-Fault Insurance?
New York has a no-fault insurance law. This means that motorists in New York must file a claim with their own auto insurance company when they’re involved in a car accident. Injury victims can receive compensation from their own insurer for property damage to their vehicle, lost wages, and medical bills.
The reason this type of insurance is called “no-fault” is that it doesn’t matter who caused the collision. The auto insurance companies are required to pay regardless of fault.
Under state law, every motorist is required to maintain a certain amount of car insurance, including:
- $25,000 in bodily injury liability coverage per individual
- $50,000 total liability coverage per accident
- $10,000 in coverage for property damage liability
- $50,000 in no-fault coverage
- Uninsured motorist coverage
You May Still Be Able to File a Claim Against the Other Driver
In some situations, you can still file a car accident claim against the other motorist. If you were seriously injured in a car accident caused by the other driver, you may be able to file a third-party claim against the other individual or their insurance provider.
To do this, however, you must have suffered a serious injury as defined by state law as follows:
“‘Serious injury’ means a personal injury which results in death; dismemberment; significant disfigurement; a fracture; loss of a fetus; permanent loss of use of a body organ, member, function or system; permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member; significant limitation of use of a body function or system; or a medically determined injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature which prevents the injured person from performing substantially all of the material acts which constitute such person’s usual and customary daily activities for not less than ninety days during the one hundred eighty days immediately following the occurrence of the injury or impairment.”
In summary, a serious injury under state law includes:
- Injury that results in death or dismemberment
- Significant dismemberment
- Loss of a fetus
- Permanent loss of a body part, organ, function, or system
- Permanent consequential limitation of use of a body organ or member
- A significant limitation of use of a body function or system
- Injury or impairment of a non-permanent nature that stops the person from performing all of their daily activities for at least 90 days
If your injuries meet the definition of “serious injury” under state law, you may be able to bypass the no-fault system and file a claim against the negligent driver or their insurance company.
Establishing Fault After a New York Car Accident
If your injuries are serious and they were caused by another driver, you must be able to prove that this is the case. You’ll have to show that the other motorist caused the accident that led to your injuries.
This means showing that the other driver acted negligently. When a motorist acts negligently, they deviate from the duty of care that all drivers must adhere here to when getting behind the wheel. This means following traffic laws, ensuring their car is maintained in a safe manner and using the sort of care that any reasonable person would behind the wheel.
When someone deviates from this standard, they have breached the duty of care and can be considered negligent. This means they are responsible for the car accident and thus liable for any injuries that came about due to the collision.
If you’ve been injured in a car accident in New York, you probably have a lot of questions. The law in this area can be complex, and there are strict time limits for filing a claim. It’s in your best interest to discuss your case with a New York car accident lawyer so you can rest easy knowing your rights are protected.