Answer: The best time to call a personal injury lawyer is immediately after an accident and preferably within 10 days of the accident. The next best time is right now if it’s less than 3 years after your accident.
Many people know the statute of limitations allows three years to file a lawsuit but the statute of limitations can be as short as 15 months and there are other much shorter time deadlines, as short as 30 days, to protect your benefits.
For instance, you only have 30 days to file a claim for No-fault benefits when you’re injured in a car accident and you may only have 90 days for many lawsuits! See below.
There are usually several time deadlines that are different for each type of personal injury case.
What Is the Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations is like a gate that closes on your lawsuit at a certain time. It is the time within which a lawsuit must be filed with the court.
But most personal injury lawyers won’t take your case with only a few months to go before the gate closes.
If you miss the statute of limitations, the gate is closed and you may have lost millions of dollars!
How Long Is the Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury in New York?
See a New York statute of limitations timetable chart on NYCourts.gov.
Statute of Limitations for a Personal Injury Lawsuit in New York
The statute of limitations for a personal injury lawsuit in New York against an individual or private company is three years. A lawsuit must be filed with the court within three years of the date of your accident.
This is the same for car accidents and non-motor vehicle accidents.
Statute of Limitations for Medical Malpractice in New York
Medical malpractice and dental malpractice have a shorter statute of limitations of two years and six months from the date of the malpractice or from the end of continuous treatment by the doctor.
It is very tricky to determine when the statute of limitations for malpractice begins to run.
Statute of Limitations for Children in New York
The statute of limitations is extended for children, to begin running from the date they turn 18.
Short Time Deadlines to File a Lawsuit
Accidents that involve a government entity usually have a statute of limitations that is one year and 90 days from the date of the accident. There are many lawsuits in which a government entity must be sued but you wouldn’t know because it’s not obvious.
For instance, a car accident may be caused by a driver in a government vehicle or a government must be sued because of a defective road design or defective condition.
If a government is involved, a Notice of Claim must be filed within 90 days of the accident and the statute of limitations is one year and ninety after the accident.
Some common entities that also have short time deadlines include:
- Public Universities and Community Colleges
This is another reason why you should speak with a personal injury lawyer immediately.
30 Day and 90 Day Deadlines!
Besides the statute of limitations, there are many short deadlines to file claims for various benefits.
A claim must be filed within 30 days of an accident for payment for medical bills and lost wages when you have a car accident.
If you have a car accident, uninsured claims and underinsured claims must be filed within 90 days, with some limited exceptions.
A notice of claim against a government entity (mentioned above) must be filed within 90 days.
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Legal Work That Must Be Done before the Statute of Limitations
Another problem with waiting because you have time before the statute of limitations ends is that a lot of investigation and work must be done before filing a lawsuit and that can take as much as 6-18 months.
Most lawyers will not take your case if you call the lawyer within 6 months of the statute of limitations.
Discussions with the Insurance Company
If you have any discussions with the insurance company during the time that you are deciding whether you want to hire a lawyer or not, you will damage your case and at the least reduce the amount your case can be settled for.
Should I Try to Settle With the Insurance Company Before I Hire a Lawyer?
Many clients have called a lawyer a year or two after an accident because the insurance company led them to believe that they will fairly settle the claim. After delaying the case for a year or two and never offering a reasonable settlement, the claimant will give up and call an attorney. That’s happened with us several times.
The insurance company may offer a settlement that sounds good but is actually 10-20 times less than the injury is worth. We have spoken with people who settled their claim for $40,000 thinking it was a lot of money when the injury was actually worth over $1 million.
Read about Colossus, one of the tactics that insurance companies use to convince you not to call a lawyer.
How will you know what your injury is worth?
- You won’t know what your injury is really worth.
- You may have injuries you don’t realize are serious.
- You may have injuries you’re not aware of.
We have had many clients who didn’t realize that they had other very valuable injuries, often worth much more than the injuries they complained about.
One of our clients was trying to get $40,000 for his fractured ribs. The insurance wouldn’t even pay that much so he called us. We found he had a concussion and got him $1,000,000.
How Can I Calculate What My Personal Injury Case is Worth?
Should I Represent Myself If I Just Need a Quick Settlement?
You’ll risk ruining your personal injury case and missing the statute of limitations. See Can I Settle My Own Accident Case Without a Lawyer? If you’re injured in an accident and need quick money we can get you a lawsuit loan.
How to hire a personal injury lawyer
How Can You Protect Your Rights & Get Money After an Accident?
Call the 1-800-HURT-911® Personal Injury Lawyer Dream Team while the gate is still open if you want a successful personal injury settlement.
Even if you think you’re not injured enough for an attorney to take your case, call us right now for a free consultation with no obligation. If after speaking with us you want to hire us, we’ll protect your rights immediately!
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Philip L. Franckel, Esq. is one of the HURT911® Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York; He has a 10 Avvo rating; Avvo Client’s Choice with all 5-star reviews; Avvo Top Contributor; and a former Member of the Board of Directors of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association.
Robert Plevy, Esq. is one of the HURT911® Dream Team™ Founding Partners at 1-800-HURT-911® New York. Rob began his legal career in 1993 as an Assistant Corporation Counsel defending The City of New York against personal injury lawsuits.