How New York Statutes Affect Personal Injury Claims

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How New York Statutes Affect Personal Injury Claims

How New York Statutes Affect Personal Injury ClaimsPersonal injury law covers a wide variety of cases that involve injuries caused by another person or party. From motor vehicle accidents and construction accidents to premises liability claims, personal injury laws allow victims to seek compensation for their injuries and damages.

New York statutes govern many of the issues related to personal injury claims.

These statutes affect personal injury claims by:

  • Setting deadlines for filing claims
  • Apportioning damages based on fault
  • Whether injuries meet or exceed the “serious injury threshold” for filing a claim
  • The parties who can file a wrongful death claim and the damages they can receive
  • Whether you can file a claim against government agencies

If you have never been injured in an accident, you may have questions about insurance claims and personal injury lawsuits. Let’s look at specific New York statutes that answer some of these questions.

What is a Statute?

Before we discuss specific statutes that affect personal injury cases, it can help to understand what we mean by statute.

Statutes are laws enacted by the legislature. Some statutes are referred to as Acts. Congress enacts federal statutes and Acts that apply to all 50 states, while individual state legislatures enact statutes that govern individuals and lawsuits within the state. Some federal and state statutes might overlap slightly.

The Consolidated Laws of New York cover a wide range of topics and issues, including but not limited to:

  • Abandoned Property
  • Businesses and Corporations
  • Elections
  • Employers’ Liability
  • Real Property
  • Education
  • Taxation
  • Negligence and Personal Injury
  • Evidence
  • Public Service

 

Setting Deadlines for Filing Personal Injury Claims

A Statute of Limitations sets deadlines for filing lawsuits. The New York statute of limitations for most personal injury claims is three years from the accident date. However, there are exceptions to this general rule.

Medical malpractice and wrongful death claims have a shorter deadline for filing claims. Also, there could be different deadlines for filing lawsuits in cases involving children and government entities. Waiting too long to speak with a lawyer about your injury claim could result in the loss of legal rights.

Responsibility for Damages in a Shared Liability Claim

If another party injured you, that party could be liable for the full amount of your damages. However, if you are partially to blame for the cause of the accident or your injuries, you are not entitled to full compensation under New York’s comparative fault laws.

Being partially at fault for the cause of an accident does not bar you from recovering money for your claim. New York is a pure comparative fault state. You could be 99 percent responsible for causing an accident, yet you could receive compensation equal to one percent of your damages.

Insurance companies and defense attorneys use allegations of comparative fault to reduce their liability for a claim. For example, a driver might allege that a pedestrian was partially at fault for the cause of a pedestrian accident because the pedestrian was crossing against the pedestrian signal.

Another example of comparative fault might be when a truck driver alleges that a speeding driver or drunk driver contributed to the cause of the truck accident. A construction company might allege comparative fault if a person was injured who ignored warning signs not to enter the site.

Allegations of comparative fault can significantly reduce the amount of money you receive for your injury claim. If a jury finds you 50 percent at fault for your car wreck, the most you can receive for your claim is one-half of the amount of your damages.

Serious Injury Threshold for Filing Personal Injury Claims

New York’s no-fault insurance laws affect when you can sue another driver for damages caused by a car accident. In most cases, car accident victims file injury claims against their Personal Injury Protection (PIP) coverage. PIP is no-fault insurance, so you do not need to prove who caused the accident to recover PIP benefits.

In some cases, an automobile accident victim can sue the at-fault driver for additional damages. However, the victim must prove that their injuries meet or exceed the serious injury threshold set by statute.

According to New York Insurance Law §5102(d), a serious injury includes, but is not limited to:

  • Fracture
  • Dismemberment
  • Death
  • Loss of a fetus
  • Significant disfigurement
  • Permanent loss, permanent consequential limitation, or significant limitation of a body function, system, or body organ
  • A non-permanent injury that prevents you from performing most of your normal daily activities for at least 90 of the 180 days following your motor vehicle accident.

You may be unsure whether your car accident injury meets the serious injury threshold. In that case, a personal injury lawyer can review your case and advise you of your rights regarding a personal injury claim.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?

The New York wrongful death statutes restrict who can file a claim and how long they have to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The statutes also dictate how compensation is divided among the deceased’s heirs.

In New York, the person’s surviving spouse, children, and parents can file a wrongful death lawsuit. Also, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate can file a claim.

The compensation for a wrongful death lawsuit is divided according to their loss and priority under intestate laws. Wrongful death lawsuits have a shorter statute of limitations. Lawsuits claiming wrongful death must be filed within two years of the person’s death.

Filing Claims Against New York Government Entities

Filing Claims Against New York Government EntitiesGovernment entities and agencies enjoy immunity from lawsuits under the legal theory of sovereign immunity. Unless the government permits you to pursue an injury claim against it, it is immune from personal injury lawsuits and claims.

However, New York has waived sovereign immunity for personal injury claims under the Court of Claims Act. You may file a lawsuit against a state or municipal government entity for damages caused by accidents or injuries occurring on government property or because of a government employee’s negligence or wrongdoing.

Examples of personal injury lawsuits against New York or a municipality within the state include:

  • Slip and fall accidents on government offices
  • Being injured in an accident caused by a city bus or while riding on the subway
  • A child injured in a public school, on a school bus, or while playing at a public park
  • Traffic accidents caused by government employees
  • Injuries sustained by residents in a government-owned nursing home

The rules governing personal injury lawsuits against the government have slightly different rules for other personal injury lawsuits. For example, you must file a notice of claim within 90 days of your accident. If you do not follow the requirements for filing the notice of claim, you could lose your right to proceed with an injury lawsuit.

Because claims against the government can be complicated, it is best to seek legal advice as soon as possible from a lawyer who handles these types of personal injury cases.

Call Our New York Personal Injury Lawyer for a Free Consultation

Understanding your legal rights is one of the best ways to protect your right to compensation after an accident or injury. If you have questions about an injury claim or personal injury laws in New York, contact our office to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case with a New York City personal injury attorney.