New Yorkers: Beware Of Municipal Accident Claim Limitations

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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Written by Jeffrey Johnson
Insurance Lawyer Jeffrey Johnson

UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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Do you know how much time you have to file a claim after being involved in a car accident? While most New Yorkers believe that they have a couple of years to do so, the truth of the matter is that there may be a 90 day limit when a public authority or municipality is involved – and shorter periods in other situations.

What restrictions apply?

There are special time restrictions that may apply when negligence involves a public authority or municipality. To find out more, we asked Ira Slavit, a New York attorney in practice for over 20 years whose firm concentrates its practice in personal injury matters and medical malpractice litigation. Here’s what he told us:

These are very, very important time restrictions. With a municipality, like the City of New York, a town or village or a public authority like the New York City Transit Authority, the New York City Housing Authority or New York Health and Hospitals Corporation, the law requires that a notice of claim be filed within 90 days of the date of accident. The law also requires that a lawsuit be instituted within one year and 90 days of the date of accident. Both of those requirements must be met.

While there are provisions in the law to file an extension of time or to file late, it’s often up to the judge’s discretion, whereas if you file before the 90 days, you don’t need permission at all. You just make the filing. However, if the year and 90 days has passed and you haven’t filed, then it’s too late to make that application for late filing and the court has no discretion after the year and 90 days to even allow the extension of the first 90 day time limitation.

30-day no fault benefit deadline

The general statute of limitations for negligence in New York State is three years, but with auto accidents, there are some other time limitations that are crucial. According to Slavit, one of them has to do with the filing of an application for no-fault benefits. He explained:

There is a 30-day time limit – 30 days from the date of the accident time limit to file an application for no-fault benefits. If you miss that deadline, then you either must have the insurance company voluntarily agree to take the late filing or you may have to go through other procedures to have a ruling as to whether or not it should be considered timely.

The 30 day time limit is one of the shortest time restrictions in the law. It can be problematic, especially if it’s not your own insurance company that’s supposed to be paying no-fault because you may not even be able to identify the carrier. However, if you miss the 30 days and you can’t file late, then you may be without no-fault benefits, which could expose you to personal liability for medical and hospital expenses.

Other limitations

Slavit provided us with the following information on other limitations that apply in New York:

  • Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation. A time limitation on motor vehicle accidents concerns the Motor Vehicle Accident Indemnification Corporation. It requires paperwork to be filed within 90 days if there’s a possibility that there’s no insurance. There also may be a 90 day time limit under your own policy.
  • New York Wrongful death. The statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is only two years in New York. So, if the accident involves a death, then you have to watch out for that two-year statute.
  • Notice of Intention. With respect to claims against the State of New York, there is a 90-day from date of accident time limitation to either file a Claim or to serve a Notice of Intention to Make Claim. If a Notice of Intention is served, the Claim must be filed within 2 years of the date of accident.

Not sure what to do? Seek advice

We asked Slavit if an attorney would keep track of whatever deadlines or statutes of limitation apply. He emphatically told us, “Yes, and that’s why it’s a good idea to call an attorney even if you’re not sure you have a case. Another reason is that it’s not often clear who is going to be paying your bills. While you do have the no-fault coverage, if you start getting bills and don’t do anything about them, then suddenly you’re getting threats from collection agencies. That’s definitely something to avoid.”

If you’ve been injured in an automobile accident in New York, contact an experienced New York auto accident attorney to discuss your situation confidentially.

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