After getting injured in an auto collision, you might wonder how long you have after the crash to claim the injury. According to New York’s statute of limitations, you generally have three years from the accident date to file a lawsuit. This is not always the case, and certain circumstances, such as municipal involvement, could significantly shorten this time. However, before a lawsuit, you can attempt to settle your claim outside of court.
An experienced Long Island car accident attorney can help determine how long after the accident you have to claim an injury or file a lawsuit. Law firms strongly advise having an experienced attorney guide you through the legal process. With an attorney by your side, this complex process is often far easier to navigate.
While the New York statute of limitations lists a three-year deadline to file a personal injury lawsuit, there are some exceptions. For example, the deadline is sometimes shorter if you sue a municipality. It is helpful to contact an attorney soon after the collision to ensure that you meet all deadlines to file a claim or lawsuit against the liable party.
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Determining Liability in an Auto Accident
The amount of time you have after a motor vehicle collision to claim an injury depends on who you are filing the claim or lawsuit against. If you file against the person who caused the accident, the three-year statute of limitations generally applies. However, as noted above, you could have a shorter filing time if a municipality is to blame.
When a Municipality Is Liable for the Collision
When poorly maintained roads cause accidents, a municipality (such as a city or town) is often liable for these collisions. Municipalities have a legal duty to maintain roads to avoid preventable collisions.
Reasons that you could hold a municipality liable for your injuries include:
- There are design defects on the road, such as sharp turns with lowered visibility
- They are aware of potholes but do not repair them.
- Construction debris is left on the road.
- Lane lines are unclear.
- Intersections are not designed properly.
- There are missing guardrails in high-frequency accident areas.
When the liable party in the accident is a municipality, be sure to consider the possibility of a shorter timeline to file your claim or lawsuit.
When Another Driver Is Liable for the Collision
When another, non-municipal, driver causes the accident, the regular statute of limitations to file a lawsuit within three years comes into play.
Common causes of auto collisions caused by another driver include:
- The driver is distracted. When drivers are eating, talking or texting on the phone, tending to their children, or using a radio or navigation system, they do not pay full attention to the road. Taking your eyes off the road for even a few seconds can have devastating consequences. The distracted driver should be liable if they cause a collision while their eyes are off the road.
- The driver is driving aggressively. When people drive aggressively, they can cause accidents. Aggressive driving may include speeding, tailgating, swerving in and out of lanes, and other moving violations. If someone causes a collision while driving aggressively, they should be liable.
- The driver is driving while fatigued. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), driver fatigue can impair a person’s driving as much as driving while intoxicated. Driver fatigue often occurs when a driver does not get enough sleep. Effects of driver fatigue can include nodding off, slower reaction times, poor decision-making, and tunnel vision. A person who drives while tired should be liable if they cause a collision.
- The driver is driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Driving while intoxicated can significantly impair a person’s ability to drive. Drugs and alcohol can cause impaired motor skills, slower reaction times, and decrease the driver’s ability to use the gas and brake pedals appropriately. A person who causes a collision while intoxicated should be liable for the accident and may also face heavy fines or jail time.
If someone else is liable for the injuries the collision caused, an attorney can help develop a solid case against them and negotiate with their insurer to reach a fair settlement.
When a Car Parts Manufacturer Is Liable for the Collision
When most people think of auto collisions, they think about the fault of another driver. A car parts manufacturer isn’t often considered as a liable party. However, collisions do commonly occur because of defective car parts. For example, if a poorly designed wheelbase or faulty brakes cause a collision, you could sue the car parts manufacturer for damages.
To file a lawsuit against a car parts manufacturer, you need a skilled attorney who knows how to prove the defective part caused the accident. When filing against a car parts manufacturer, you generally have the same three years from the date of the accident.
How an Attorney Can Help You Recover Compensation
If you sustained an injury in an auto collision, an attorney can help you fight for compensation. There are many steps an attorney can take to build the strongest case possible. Mostly, they take the legal obligations off your shoulders, so you can focus on recovering from the accident.
Examples of ways a personal injury attorney can help you recover compensation after an injury include:
- Handle all communications with the liable party’s insurer—you don’t have to worry about accepting an offer that’s too low, because your attorney will work to make sure you don’t.
- Gather evidence from the collision to determine who is at fault.
- Explain the documentation you need, such as medical records and bills, and help you keep it in an organized format.
- Speak with your doctor(s) to learn more about how your injuries impact your life. Doing this can help your attorney prove that you sustained specific damages.
- Present all available evidence to prove who is liable for the accident and why you deserve to recover damages.
- Negotiate with the liable party’s insurer and/or opposing attorneys to ensure you reach a fair settlement.
Types of Compensation You Could Recover After a Collision
When you file a claim or lawsuit after sustaining an injury, there are various types of compensation you could recover—these are also called “damages.” Recoverable damages are the amount of compensation the liable party owes someone else for injuring them. They intend to make the injured person financially whole again after facing medical bills, lost income, and other expenses.
The amount of compensation someone could receive varies from case to case. A large factor in determining how much compensation you could receive is the extent of your injuries. For example, an accident victim who will have to deal with the consequences of their injuries for the rest of their life might receive more compensation than someone who will heal quickly. Regardless, it’s imperative to hold the liable party accountable and seek the maximum amount of damages.
There are two types of recoverable damages an attorney could help you recover: economic damages and non-economic damages. Both types of damages compensate the injured person for the various losses they incurred. Economic damages compensate for their monetary losses, while non-economic damages compensate for their non-monetary losses.
Economic damages refer to the verifiable monetary losses an accident victim incurred because of their injuries. These damages are easier to calculate because documentation (such as bills or receipts) usually shows their exact amount. An attorney can help you to gather the appropriate documentation to prove the economic damages you sustained.
There are several types of economic damages you could recover after an auto collision, such as:
- Medical expenses: You can include any cost you had to pay for medical care in your damages—for example, if you had to go to the emergency room, ride in an ambulance, receive care in a hospital, or undergo surgery. Medical expenses can also include the costs of doctor visits, medications, diagnostic tests, and more.
- Future medical expenses: If your injuries require medical care, you could also include the projected costs of your future medical care in your claim. An attorney can speak with your doctor(s) and calculate the value of your future medical expenses if your injuries will likely require care after settling your claim or lawsuit.
- The income you lost: Many people who sustain injuries in a collision have to miss work while they heal from the accident, recover in the hospital, or undergo medical procedures. If you lost income or other work-related benefits because of your injuries, you can include these losses in your claim.
- Future lost income: If you cannot return to work or your earning capacity diminishes because of your injuries, you can include future lost income in your claim as well. An attorney can help determine the amount of future income and benefits you will likely lose because of your injuries.
The liable party should have to pay for the economic damages caused by your injuries. An attorney can fight and advocate for you to receive the compensation you need and deserve.
Non-economic damages are non-monetary losses you incur because of your injuries, such as emotional or physical pain or trauma. These damages are often more difficult to calculate because they are not tied to an exact monetary value. However, a personal injury attorney with experience in these types of cases can calculate the value of your non-economic damages.
Like economic damages, there are several types of non-economic damages you could potentially recover. When you meet with an attorney, they can review your total losses to determine which types of non-economic damages you might qualify for.
Examples of non-economic damages you could recover include:
- Pain and suffering: If you experienced significant physical pain directly related to the accident or your injuries, you could recover compensation. This includes any pain, inconvenience, or discomfort you experienced directly after the accident or pain that will continue in the future.
- Emotional distress: If you experienced negative psychological effects because of the accident, you could recover compensation for those as well. Examples include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), fear, and sleeping issues.
- Loss of enjoyment: If your injuries prevent you from enjoying activities and hobbies you once loved, you could recover compensation for loss of enjoyment damages.
Compensation That Family Members Could Recover if Their Loved One Passes Away
Unfortunately, many fatalities occur because of motor vehicle collisions. If your loved one passed away because of their injuries, we first want to extend our condolences. Losing a loved one so suddenly can place a severe emotional and financial burden on the surviving family members.
To ease the financial burden, an attorney can help certain surviving family members recover compensation on behalf of their loved one. Examples of financial compensation you could recover include:
- Your loved one’s medical care: If your loved one received medical care to attempt to save their life or provide comfort, surviving family members could recover any out-of-pocket costs they had to pay.
- Funeral services: If you have a funeral or celebration of life service to honor your loved one, you could include those costs in your claim.
- Burial or cremation: You could recover the costs of laying your loved one to rest through burial or cremation.
An attorney can help determine if you or other family members are eligible to recover compensation for the death of your loved one.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Today
We encourage you to contact an attorney today, especially if you are concerned about how long you have after a car accident to claim an injury. An attorney can guide you through the entire legal process and ensure that you do not miss deadlines. In addition, many attorneys offer free consultations to potential clients where you can learn about the deadlines that apply to your case and all your legal options.
Don’t allow the liable party to get away with driving in an unsafe manner and harming you or your loved one. With help from a Long Island personal injury attorney, you can hold them accountable to get the compensation you need and deserve.