What Is a Statute of Limitations?
The statute of limitations is the amount of time you are allowed by law to file a lawsuit. The laws regarding filing are strict. If you fail to file on time and still decide to pursue your case, the defendant’s lawyer will swiftly ask for a motion to dismiss. The court will then summarily dismiss the case because you did not adhere to the rule. A statute of limitations is put in place to offer a reasonable amount of time to commence a civil action. The point of a legal remedy in a personal injury case is to make a person whole. A claim dragging on indefinitely makes no sense for the individual or the legal system.
Plus, evidence gathering becomes much less viable after months or years. Personal injury cases can require investigators to help gather evidence or reconstruction specialists to ascertain how an accident happened. Evidence spoliation can be problematic shortly after an accident occurs. Taking witness depositions long after the fact is another issue. It is crucial to your case to consult with an attorney to get your claim filed as soon as possible, so the time-sensitive work of developing your case can begin.
How Long Do I Have To File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in New York?
In New York City alone, there were 3,489 injuries to drivers and passengers from car crashes in May of 2022. Many of these individuals will pursue personal injury claims. The New York Civil Practice Law & Rules Section 214 states that a person has three years to begin “an action to recover damages for a personal injury.” This three-year rule applies to almost all NY personal injury cases.
How Long Do I Have To File a Personal Injury Lawsuit in New Jersey?
In the state of New Jersey in 2020, there were 42,791 injuries from car accidents. Like all other states, there is a time limit for filing in New Jersey. The statute of limitations law is codified under the New Jersey Statutes Section 2A:14-2 which states, “Every action at law for an injury to the person caused by the wrongful act, neglect or default of any person within this State shall be commenced within two years next after the cause of any such action shall have accrued.”
While people may try to take their cases to court after two years, they are hard-pressed to find a legal team for the defense that does not seek a dismissal. The court, with few exceptions, will dismiss the case.
What Are the Exceptions?
In both New York and New Jersey, there are some important circumstances that could affect the clock on the statute of limitations.
These are instances where the timeline would be modified to make exceptions:
- At the time of the accident, if the injured person is under the age of 18 the clock will not start until the time the person reaches that age. This individual will then have two years from that time to file a lawsuit. (New York Civil Practice Law & Rules section 208) and (New Jersey Statutes section 2A:14-21)
- Or, if the person has a mental disability, the clock will not start until the individual legally regains mental capacity. (New York Civil Practice Law & Rules section 208) and (New Jersey Statutes section 2A:14-21)
- Or, if the party who is alleged to be responsible for a plaintiff’s injury had left the state before a lawsuit was filed, the time will likely not be counted against filing deadline during this absence. In New York, the time period must be longer than four months to qualify. It may be necessary to have an affidavit to show there is no way to complete a “service of process.” (New York Civil Practice Law & Rules section 207) and (New Jersey Statutes section 2A:14-22)
Most states have a discovery rule that allows the statute of limitations deadline to be extended if the plaintiff did not know of an injury or the defendant’s responsibility for an injury until a later time.
What Happens If You Fail To Make the Filing Deadline?
Aside from the very real prospect of your case being dismissed, you lose your right to seek damages. If you have chronic pain, need long-term rehabilitation, or suffer an incapacitating injury, the inability to get compensation is a catastrophic outcome for missing the filing deadline. There is no recourse except to manage as best you can. You don’t want to be in this position after a serious injury. A personal injury lawyer will take care of what needs to be done each step of the way.
How Does an Attorney Help With Your Car Accident Lawsuit?
There are many reasons to have an attorney handle your case. It is next to impossible to get fair compensation without hiring an attorney to represent you. Additionally, claims can take time to resolve, and an enormous amount of work is involved in a personal injury lawsuit.
These are essential services your lawyer provides:
- Offers you ongoing counsel
- Handles negotiations with insurance companies
- Manages all aspects of preparing, filing and reviewing legal documents
- Communicates with all parties to the claim
- Determines what your case is worth (case valuation)
- Represents you in court
- Protects your interests throughout the legal journey
There is no need to wait until the last minute and risk your chances to recover. You will feel much more confident in the outcome when you know a skilled lawyer is assisting with your case.
Get an Attorney To Help You File Your Personal Injury Lawsuit
At Judd Shaw Injury Law, we are dedicated to helping our clients get the compensation they deserve for personal injuries due to someone else’s negligent actions. We understand that the process of filing a lawsuit can seem overwhelming when you are hurt and struggling to make ends meet. For this reason and others, you need an experienced lawyer on your side handling the details of a personal injury claim.
We follow a core set of values known as “The Judd Shaw Way.” Our clients understand their case is being managed with the utmost professionalism. We don’t back down when it comes to protecting your rights and getting fair compensation. We offer a free consultation on your case with 24/7 availability. Contact us to get started.