Commencing a lawsuit – don’t settle too early!
There are time limitations for filing a lawsuit. These are called statutes of limitation.
In New York, the general statute of limitations is three years for personal injury cases.
This means you must file your lawsuit within three years of the accident. However, there are
certain shorter time periods that may also bar your claim. For example, anytime you sue a
municipal government or municipal agency, you are required to file a notice of claim within 90
days from the date of the accident. The statute of limitations for suing municipalities or
municipal agencies, as well as claims for medical malpractice, are shorter.
It is imperative anytime you may have to possibly sue a municipal agency, government,
or medical malpractice claim, that you consult an attorney immediately. While there are certain
limited circumstances where you might not need an attorney to resolve your case for injuries, it
would not be a medical malpractice case. It would be virtually impossible for a personal litigant
to prosecute a medical malpractice case. It is also unwise to litigate against a municipal
defendant, as this is filled with numerous landmines that could result in your case blowing up.
Although we generally have three years to file a lawsuit, in some jurisdictions, we file
lawsuits very early. In some courts, there is a lag in the judicial system. By sitting on a case, it
will result in unnecessary delay for the client. It is appropriate to file a lawsuit once there is a
good handle on what the injuries are, how your recovery is going, and whether you had a fracture
or surgery and a determination if it has healed correctly. Once it can be ascertained where you
are health wise, it is appropriate to file suit. Therefore, filing suit too early and settling a case too
early could be a huge mistake.
As I indicated earlier, I have had many cases where a patient had minor complaints of
back and/or neck injury only to continue to have treatment and two years down the road have
major surgery and then a subsequent surgery a year after that. If an attorney settles a case too
early, he has pulled the rug out from under you to be compensated fully for your injuries. This is
a critical mistake that a number of attorneys make. It is also why insurance companies look to
immediately resolve cases with victims who are not represented. They tend to offer them a quick
buck to make them go away. An experienced personal injury attorney, however, will know that
injuries take time to develop and that every surgery does not have a good result.
Lastly, if you are involved in an automobile accident and the person who hit you has less
insurance, or no insurance, and your personal underinsured or supplementary motorist insurance
coverage is applicable, you are required to give your insurance company notice in writing that
you are intending to make a claim