Is There a Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents?
Published on:June 21, 2018


A statute of limitations is the amount of time a person has to file a civil lawsuit for injuries or property damage that were sustained in an accident. The criminal side of the justice system also has statutes of limitations that apply to various crimes. If you allow the statute of limitations to run out before filing your personal injury lawsuit, then the courts will not hear your suit. It is important to understand the statute of limitations as it applies to car accidents in New York State, and to make sure that you file your lawsuit before the statute of limitations runs out.

Who Can File A Car Accident Personal Injury Lawsuit?

Anyone who was party to a motorcycle or automobile accident can file a personal injury lawsuit. This includes drivers, passengers, pedestrians, property owners, and bicyclist. If you were riding your bicycle in a manner consistent with traffic laws and were struck as part of an automobile or motorcycle accident, then you have the right to file a lawsuit.

What Is The Statute Of Limitations In New York State?

There are actually two statutes of limitations when it comes to car accidents in New York State. The first category involves people who were injured in a car accident, or any property damage sustained as the result of a car accident. This includes parked vehicles or anything that a vehicle involved in an accident crashed into as a result of the accident.

In these cases, the standard New York State statute of limitations for personal injury events of three years would be in effect. The victim would have three years from the date of the accident to file a valid lawsuit in a New York State civil court.

When There Is A Death As A Result Of An Accident

In New York State, as with most states, the statute of limitations for a car accident changes if there is a death involved. In the event of a death in a car accident, the family of the deceased has two years from the family member’s death to file their wrongful death lawsuit.

It is important to keep in mind that the date of death could be months or even years after the accident date. If that is the case, then the family will need to prove that the death was the result of the accident. On the other hand, if the death was instantaneous, then that shortens the statute of limitations from three years to two years.

The Best Approach

The first thing anyone should do after being involved in a car accident is to get emergency medical assistance as needed. If there was property damage as a result of the accident, then catalog the damage and get pictures. If there were injuries, then be sure to get a police report and catalog the injuries in the same way you would catalog property damage. You should hire an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to make sure your case is filed before the statute of limitations is up.

Every state in the country has a statute of limitations when it comes to filing a personal injury or property damage lawsuit as a result of a car accident. The statute of limitations varies from state to state, so be sure to consult with an experienced attorney before filing your lawsuit.