Personal injury law in New York State provides specific guidelines for how an injured party can file a suit in court to pursue compensation for their losses in the event of a personal injury. Littman & Babiarz, a personal injury law firm in Ithaca, Syracuse and Auburn, NY, wants you to be aware of how the statute of limitations affects current personal injury claims.
What is a Statute of Limitations?
A statute of limitations is legal jargon for a time limit on your right to file a suit in court. In the State of New York, the Statute of Limitations, or time limit, for filing a personal injury lawsuit is three years from the date of the accident that caused your injury. This legal limit is spelled out within New York Civil Practice Law & Rules section 214, which states: “an action to recover damages for a personal injury” must be “commenced” within three years.
Therefore, if you suffer an injury from another person’s careless or intentional act, you have three years to file the initial claim documentation with the civil courts. This deadline applies to most types of personal injury lawsuits, including cases of both negligence and intent.
What About COVID-19?
The COVID-19 pandemic has caused some confusion over this statute of limitations because of the related executive orders issued by the New York State governor. Portions of these orders are believed to directly affect the statue of limitations on civil cases. Here are the pertinent portions with which to be concerned:
- On March 7, 2020, NY Governor Andrew M. Cuomo issued Executive Order 202, declaring a disaster emergency for the entire state to remain in effect until Sept. 7, 2020.
- Executive Order 202.8, issued on March 20, 2020, states (in part): “In accordance with the directive of the Chief Judge of the State to limit court operations to essential matters during the pendency of the COVID-19 health crisis, any specific time limit for the commencement, filing, or service of any legal action, notice, motion, or other process or proceeding, as prescribed by the procedural laws of the state, including but not limited to the criminal procedure law, the family court act, the civil practice law and rules, the court of claims act, the surrogate’s court procedure act, and the uniform court acts, or by any other statute, local law, ordinance, order, rule, or regulation, or part thereof, is hereby tolled from the date of this executive order until April 19, 2020.”
- Executive Order 202.14 extended the provisions Executive Order 202.8 to May 7, 2020.
- Executive Order 202.28 extended them to June 6, 2020.
According to the language of the Executive Order, “any specific time limit for the commencement, filing, or service of any legal action … is hereby tolled from the date of this executive order until April 19, 2020.” Currently, the tolling provision of Executive Order 202.8 runs 78 days from March 20, 2020 through June 6, 2020. The “tolling provision” means that the clock is not running on legal actions during this time period.
This means that, if these provisions are to be taken as legal doctrine, there is a 78-day time period of leeway in the statute of imitations for filing a new personal injury claim. However, this is not an excuse to delay filing. The tolling provision will be applied differently according to the date of your personal injury incident.
Littman & Babiarz, personal injury attorneys in Ithaca and Syracuse, advise all prospective filers to contact us immediately to investigate the validity of your personal injury claim and how to proceed. The tolling provision is not a hard rule that allows for delay due to the inconveniences of COVID-19. Rather, it is an encouragement to file your personal injury claim promptly to allow for any delays in the courts.
Contact Littman & Babiarz today at 607-277-7527 to schedule your free initial consultation.