What is the Statute of Limitations on a Car Accident Lawsuit in New York?

After a car accident, an injured driver has limited time to file a lawsuit. This time limit is known as the statute of limitations. There are different statutes of limitation for different kinds of claims.

A personal injury lawsuit must be filed within 3 years of a car accident. If this time limit expires, you might be barred from ever filing the lawsuit. However, certain circumstances may make it possible to toll the statute and buy more time. Ideally, you should file a lawsuit as soon as possible after a car accident. You should also consider hiring an attorney before you begin your lawsuit. While insurance claims are separate from lawsuits and do not necessarily follow a statute of limitations, your insurance company may impose its own deadlines. If something goes wrong and you need to refile your lawsuit, you must do so before the statute of limitations expires.

Our West Chester car accident lawyers can help you file a lawsuit against the person responsible if you were hurt in a car crash. Call The Martello Law Firm, PLLC at (914) 685-6950 for a free initial case evaluation.

Statute of Limitations for Car Accident Lawsuits in New York

There are several statutes of limitations in New York, and each one applies to a different kind of lawsuit. Lawsuits for personal injuries and property damage can be found under CVP Laws § 214(4)-(5). The statute states that these kinds of lawsuits must be brought within 3 years. Car accident cases fall under this statute as accidents tend to involve personal injuries and damage to property.

The statute of limitations begins to run on the date of the accident. This means that you have 3 years from the date of the car crash to file a lawsuit against another driver. It is important to keep the date of your accident in mind; a lot goes on after a crash, and it can be easy to put a lawsuit on the backburner until it is too late.

Contact our New York car accident lawyers for advice if you are unsure how to file your lawsuit or do not know when the statute of limitations started counting down in your case. Once your lawsuit is filed, you can focus on recovering from your injuries.

What if I Run Out of Time to File a Lawsuit for Car Accident in New York?

Statutes of limitations impose a hard deadline, and when this deadline passes, your right to file a lawsuit expires. After 3 years, you may no longer be able to file your lawsuit at all. This means that any outstanding bills or expenses you incurred because of the accident are your responsibility, and you cannot get compensation through a lawsuit.

There may be a number of reasons an accident victim does not file within the statute of limitations. For many, these 3 years are spent in hospitals, arguing with insurance companies, and figuring out how to pay their bills. While these are all very tough situations to be in, a court is unlikely to show much leniency. An attorney can help you file your lawsuit on time while you focus on recovering.

Our West Chester personal injury lawyers can help you file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations expires. Even if your deadline is fast approaching, there is still time to file a lawsuit so you can get compensation for your damages.

Extending the Statute of Limitations in New York

Although statutes of limitations impose very strict deadlines for filing lawsuits, there are sometimes ways to extend the deadline. Under very specific circumstances, a plaintiff may pause the clock counting down their time to file or add time to their deadline. This is often referred to as tolling the statute of limitations.

If you believe you may have exceeded the statute of limitations period, our Yonkers, New York car accident attorneys can help you determine if you can toll the statute of limitations.

Extending the Statute for Minors

According to CVP Laws § 208(a), if a person entitled to file a lawsuit is a minor, the statute of limitations will not begin to run until the person turns 18. This means that a minor injured in a car accident has 3 years from their 18th birthday to file their case.

This is a very important tolling method because many licensed drivers are under 18. Additionally, minor passengers can also file claims for their injuries, and this statute gives them time to do so.

However, the time in which you can file a lawsuit will not be extended past 10 years from the date of the car accident. For very young children who might not be 18 within 10 years of their car accident, they might need an adult guardian to file a lawsuit earlier on their behalf.


The same statute for minors also applies to people experiencing mental health trouble. While the law uses the term “insanity,” it applies to people who may be mentally incapable of filing a lawsuit. For example, someone with significant mental illness or cognitive disabilities may be covered by this statute.

Much like for minors, people with mental health issues may toll the statute until their mental health improves and they can file a lawsuit. Again, the statute cannot be tolled past 10 years. If a person suffers a chronic mental health condition that may never fully improve, they may need a guardian to file the lawsuit on their behalf. You can speak with our White Plains personal injury attorneys about a lawsuit for your crash.

When the Defendant is Convicted of a Crime

In some car accident cases, the defendant intentionally hit the plaintiff rather than by accident. The defendant may also be charged with a crime and face criminal prosecution in such a situation. If this sounds like your case, your lawsuit may take a backseat to criminal proceedings. Our New York car accident lawyers can help you assess any changes in your filing deadline brought about by the criminal charges.

To ensure that you do not run out of time just in case the criminal proceedings take a long time, CVP Laws § 213-b establishes a different deadline for plaintiffs who were crime victims. A car accident victim has 7 years from the date of the accident if the defendant is convicted of a criminal offense for the crash. This may apply in cases where the defendant hit the plaintiff with their car on purpose.

How Long Should I Wait to File a Lawsuit for a Car Accident in New York?

While it is understandable to take your time to make a decision about filing a lawsuit, you do not want to wait too long. The longer you wait, the more evidence you risk losing, and the weaker your case might become. You also risk running down the statute of limitations and losing your right to file a lawsuit for the car accident.

If you are not sure about filing a lawsuit and want to wait a little while, our Mount Vernon car accident attorneys can help you collect evidence and assess your damages during this time. Once we have more information about your accident and a better idea of how much your damages are worth, you can make a final decision about suing.

Although the statute of limitations is 3 years, this is not a very long time. Many steps involved in a lawsuit are time-consuming, and 3 years may fly by pretty quickly.

When Should I Hire an Attorney for My New York Car Accident Lawsuit?

It is a good idea to consult with an attorney about your car accident lawsuit as soon as possible. Your attorney can advise you about the statute of limitations in your case and whether there is any chance you can extend the filing deadline. Our New York car accident attorneys can review your case with you and help you file your lawsuit on time.

Not only that, but the sooner you hire an attorney, the sooner they can begin helping you to gather evidence and witnesses for your case. Car accidents are tricky because crash scenes are quickly cleared, and important pieces of evidence can be lost. A lawyer can help you gather evidence quickly to build up your case.

How Does the Statute of Limitations Affect Settlements in New York Car Accident Lawsuits?

While the statute of limitations for car accidents does not specifically mention settlement negotiations, settlements should ideally be completed before the statute expires. The point of a settlement agreement is that the defendant agrees to pay you compensation in exchange for you dropping the lawsuit or refraining from filing. If the statute of limitations expires, you cannot file a lawsuit, and you would no longer have any leverage over the defendant unless the lawsuit is already in progress.

You should talk to an attorney before you begin out-of-court negotiations to get an idea of what your time limit is like. Our New Rochelle car accident attorneys can help you negotiate a fair settlement before your chance to go to court expires.

Are Insurance Claims for Car Accidents Limited by the Statute of Limitations in New York?

After a car accident, you may be dealing with insurance claims in addition to your lawsuit. New York is a no-fault insurance state, which means you can file a claim with your own personal injury insurance protection (PIP) for coverage of medical damages. However, PIP does not cover vehicle damage, and you may need to file a third-party claim with the other driver’s insurance as well.

Generally, insurance claims are not barred by the statute of limitations that applies to car accident lawsuits. Even so, there may be deadlines and time limits imposed by the insurance companies. You should have your lawyer review the relevant insurance policies and talk to the insurance companies soon after an accident to figure out how much time you have. Much like with a lawsuit, the sooner you file your insurance claims, the better.

Insurance claims can be frustratingly complicated, and the insurance company may try to downplay your claims and minimize your compensation. If an insurance settlement is not possible or is insufficient, our New York car accident attorneys can help you file a lawsuit to get your damages covered.

Can I Refile My Lawsuit After the Statute of Limitations Has Expired in New York?

One problem that some plaintiffs run into is having a case dismissed. If a judge dismisses your case without prejudice, it means you are allowed to refile the lawsuit. Usually, a case will be dismissed without prejudice if some easily corrected error prevents the case from moving forward. This is common when the complaint has mistakes, when evidence is missing, or when the case was filed in the wrong courthouse.

If your case gets dismissed without prejudice, but the statute of limitations has expired since you first filed, you may still be able to refile the case with the help of CVP Law § 205(a). Under this law, if a case filed on time is dismissed, but the plaintiff can correct any errors and refile, they are allowed to do so even if the statute of limitations has expired since they initially filed.

The catch here is that you must refile your case within 6 months of it being dismissed. If those 6 months pass without any refiling, you may lose your right to refile the case at all. Our New York car accident attorneys can help you if you need to refile your lawsuit.

There are some caveats to this rule. To take advantage of this statute, your lawsuit must not have been dismissed for any of the following reasons:

  • Voluntary discontinuance
  • Lack of personal jurisdiction over the defendant
  • Neglect to prosecute the action
  • Final judgment on the merits of the case (i.e., your case was dismissed after a full trial)

Call Our New York Car Accident Attorneys for Assistance

If you were injured in a car accident, you have a limited amount of time to assess your situation and file a lawsuit. Our Yonkers personal injury attorneys can help you file your claims and get you compensation. Call The Martello Law Firm, PLLC at (914) 685-6950 for a free case review.

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