The law requires that you file a lawsuit within a specified period of time depending on the nature of the claim and the entity that caused your injury. This is referred to as the statute of limitations. In New York, most actions for personal injury must be brought within three years from the date when the cause of action accrues. Failure to file suit within this time frame prevents you from filing suit at all. In most cases, the cause of action accrues on the date of the incident, but there may be exceptions when the injury could not have reasonably been discovered until a later date.
A medical malpractice action must be brought within two and a half years from the act or omission complained of or from the end of a continuous treatment during which the act or omission took place. However, a foreign object case may be brought within one year of the date when the object was discovered. For intentional acts such as libel, slander, assault and battery, the statute of limitations is one year. A wrongful death action must be commenced within two years from the date of death.
In some instances, there are various exceptions to the statutes of limitation that may extend or limit the limitation periods. There may be special claims presentation requirements for claims against state and local government. For example, claims against the state and its political subdivisions must be filed within 90 days of the injury. The limitation periods are extended for infancy or insanity. For these reasons, it is important to consult an attorney as early as possible to be sure you don't miss a crucial deadline.
Although most of us would prefer to avoid filing a lawsuit or going to court, it is sometimes necessary to pursue litigation to get full value for your claim. Lawsuits usually become necessary when there are disagreements with the other party's insurance company over who caused an accident or how serious the injuries are. If an agreement cannot be reached between both parties the claim must then go to trial and becomes a lawsuit.
You should be sure not to make any oral or written statements, or sign any documents without prior review by an attorney. It is important to attend all scheduled doctor appointments in order to document your injuries. Accurate records should be kept of time you missed from work, medical bills, and property damage repairs. It may be beneficial to document your damages with photographs of your injuries or photos of property damage.
After a lawsuit has been filed, both parties will conduct discovery in order to gather relevant facts and evidence. Pretrial discovery usually takes about a full year during which time both parties investigate all aspects of the claim. This may include taking oral depositions, obtaining pertinent records, propounding interrogatories, and hiring expert witnesses to obtain more evidence about the claim. During this period of discovery and as the trial date approaches, the parties will exchange settlement offers/demands. A large majority of personal injury claims settle before trial. If you agree to accept a settlement, you will be required to sign an agreement stating you absolve the other party of all further liability in this case.
Injuries cost money, including time away from work, medical bills, and other complications. Before taking legal action or trying to negotiate a settlement on your own, you should talk to an attorney about your case. You can search LawInfo’s legal directory to find a local personal injury attorney about the merits of your case. This one step can level the playing field, help you protect your rights, and put you in the best position for recovering the compensation that you deserve.