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How Long After An Accident Can You File A Claim?

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Sustaining serious injuries in a car accident is a life-changing experience. Regardless of how it happened, you have many new concerns that you didn’t have to think about before the accident. For example, how are you going to pay your medical expenses when you can’t work as you recover? What if you can’t return to work at all? It’s stressful to have these financial concerns at a time when you’re also dealing with physical injuries and emotional consequences of the accident.

Perhaps you feel upset at the person who caused the accident and wonder if you can hold him or her financially responsible for your expenses and diminished quality of life. This is a normal and fair reaction. You might also wonder about the time limit for filing a personal injury claim, particularly if the extent of your injuries don’t appear obvious right away. It is common to be sore after a car accident, however, serious symptoms or injuries may not appear for days or even weeks. Understanding how long after an accident you can file a claim is the first step towards recovering compensation.

Important Deadlines After a New York Car Accident

How long after an accident can you file a claim seems like a simple question. The general answer is that the personal injury statute of limitations in New York provides you three years from the date of the accident to file a claim for compensation against the other party. A person under age 18 at the time of the car accident may have longer while certain other situations call for a shorter filing time.

With current New York’s no-fault laws, you must initially file a claim with your own insurance company. The law only allows you to step outside of the no-fault system in case of serious injury, which it defines as the following:

  • Bone fracture
  • Full disability for 90 days or longer
  • Permanent or significant limitation on the use of an organ, body system, body member, or bodily function
  • Significant disfigurement

Car Accident Claim Time Limits in New York

If you meet the definition of serious injury or you feel dissatisfied with the settlement offer from your insurance company, you must file your lawsuit within three years of the date of the accident. The court will refuse to hear your case now and at any point in the future if you miss this deadline. Since some injuries, such as whiplash, concussion, and soft tissue injuries don’t show up right away, we strongly encourage you to seek immediate medical attention even if you don’t seem injured. The attorney for the other party will challenge the legitimacy of your injuries otherwise.

Exception: Injury Claims Against The Government

The car accident claim time limits change when you intend to file a claim for compensation for injuries against the state government. Unlike an accident claim against a private individual where you have three years to make a claim, the government allows just one year from the date of the accident when you intend to sue a city or county. Additionally, you have 90 days to file a formal complaint in both instances.

When your claim is against the state of New York, you have only 90 days to file a lawsuit. The one exception to this is when you haven’t completed medical treatment and therefore don’t have the final figure for your lawsuit against the state. In this case, you have 90 days to file an intent to file a lawsuit.

State law doesn’t indicate a specific timeline for notifying the other party of your intent to file a claim. However, we recommend that you do so as soon as possible for three important reasons.

  1. Prompt notification allows you to process as well as negotiate the claim according to your own schedule.
  2. The other party can’t claim ignorance by stating that he or she didn’t have enough time to respond to your claim when you provided plenty of notice. It preserves your right to collect damages by eliminating this defense altogether.
  3. Notifying the other party doesn’t mean you must follow through with your personal injury lawsuit. It only solidifies your right to do so and potentially bolsters your claim when or if it goes to court.

Additional Timing Considerations & Filing Deadlines

Several other filing deadlines exist within the general three-year timeline. For example, you must file the initial report of the accident with the Department of Motor Vehicles within 10 days. This is state law if anyone was killed in the accident, sustained an injury, or one or both drivers incurred more than $1,000 in damages. Here are several other deadlines that you need to know:

  • 30 days to file a claim with your insurance provider under New York’s no-fault laws
  • 30 days to file for disability payments in New York
  • 90 days to file a notice of claim, if applicable
  • 90 days to file a claim with the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation (MVAIC). This agency processes no-fault claims in addition to claims of serious injury by a driver without insurance.

Multiple deadlines exist for you to initiate a claim for lost wages. Your car accident attorney at Raphaelson & Levine will advise you how and when to go about this. If you plan to file a claim against the other driver who you feel caused the accident, we recommend doing so as soon as possible. We also recommend this for a supplementary uninsured or underinsured motorist claims.

Learn More About Filing A Personal Injury Claim

When filing a personal injury claim it is important to hire an experienced New York City personal injury attorney that has a solid understanding of local, state, and federal requirements. At Raphaelson & Levine Law Firm, P.C., we know a car crash is a challenging time and we want to make things easier for you in any way we can.

Our attorneys pay close attention to all the details of each individual case and will make sure all time limits and deadlines are observed to preserve your rights. If you have questions about New York’s car accident claim time limits or are wondering if you can still file a claim, contact an attorney at our firm today for a free consultation.

One of our injury attorneys can give you a good idea of whether you have a personal injury case worth pursuing after listening to the details of your car accident. Please bring as much information as you have available to this initial consultation, including the police report, your medical records, proof of lost income, and the contact information for any witnesses to the accident.

By: Howard Raphaelson

Howard A. Raphaelson founded Raphaelson & Levine Law Firm, P.C. in 1992 after graduating from the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Established in New York, NY, his personal injury law firm has obtained numerous million-dollar verdicts. With over twenty-five years of experience as a personal injury attorney, he has earned a trusted reputation from his peers, judges, and top leaders, including recognition among the top 5% injury attorneys as a “Super Lawyer” (Thomson Reuters) and “New York’s Best Lawyers” (New York Magazine). View all posts by Howard Raphaelson


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If you've been injured and have questions about your legal options, contact Raphaelson & Levine today. We've helped thousands of New Yorkers understand their next steps following an injury. Call (212) 268-3222 or request a free lawyer consultation.

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