Skip to Main Content

What is a Statute of Limitations?

A Statute of Limitations refers to the period of time in which a lawsuit must be commenced, before it is "too late" and untimely. In a personal injury case, this period of time is usually computed starting with the day of the accident.

The Statute of Limitations is not the same for every type of case. For example, the typical New York personal injury case based on negligence must be commenced within 3 years from the date of the accident. But New York personal injury cases based on medical malpractice have a 2.5 year statute of limitations. Claims for wrongful death have a 2 year statute of limitations from the date of the fatality.

The status of the parties also affects how the time period is computed. For example:

  • An injured person under the age of 18 generally reckons the Statute of Limitations from the time he or she turns 18 -- and not from the date of the accident.
  • When the defendant is a governmental entity, such as a municipality, the State or Federal government, or an agency, the time within which to commence the lawsuit is much shorter, and typically requires a formal Notices of Claim, or other prerequisite to the lawsuit.

One of the first things we will do in representing you in a personal injury claim is to determine exactly what type of case you have, and what the statute of limitations is for you and your particular case.