IS IT TOO LATE TO SUE? MAYBE NOT

For almost any kind of legal action, there is a time period within which you must start the action.  If the case or claim is brought after that time period expires, it is considered “time-barred” and is almost always denied, dismissed, or otherwise disposed of without any recovery.

In workers’ compensation and personal injury cases, the clock usually starts on the date of the accident.  For example, the time period to file a workers’ compensation claim is ordinarily two years from the date of the accident.  The time limitation to file a personal injury case against a private individual or company is three years from the date of the accident.  If the claim is against a local government (such as the City of New York) or a school district, you must usually file a “Notice of Claim” within 90 days of the accident and also start your lawsuit within one year and 90 days from the date of the accident.  There are other time limitations that apply to claims against the State, the Port Authority, and more.

The COVID-19 pandemic may have changed all of these legal time limits.  On March 30, 2020, Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order that stopped (“tolled”) almost all legal time limitations.  This “toll” stayed in effect until November 8, 2020.  In effect, any legal clock that was running before March 30 stopped, and did not start again until November 8, 2020.  For any accident that happened while the clock was stopped, it did not begin to run until November 8.  In short, almost every case had over 7 months added to the legal time frame.  This means that some cases that would otherwise have been “too late” are still viable and can be filed.

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