A personal injury case filed in New York will be heard and decided in accordance with numerous New York statutes. These statutes not only dictate the substance of your legal rights but will also govern how those rights are exercised and the procedural rules that will prescribe when and how your lawsuit is to be heard. Presenting your New York personal injury lawsuit is not as simple as appearing in court and telling your side of the story: there may be several legal hurdles you must surmount before you are able to have “your day in court.” Not knowing these laws – or how they apply in New York personal injury lawsuits – can be the cause of great confusion and grief. Conversely, knowing some of the more significant laws that will apply in your case before you find yourself injured and needing to file a personal injury lawsuit can help prepare you for what can be a long and challenging road to recovery.
Laws to Know that Pertain to New York Personal Injury Cases
The following are, but a few of the many laws of which personal injury victims filing a lawsuit in New York should be aware. Even though the facts giving rise to your particular injury incident are unique, these are laws with which almost every personal injury victim will contend in some way or other:
- NY CPRL Sec. 1411. This statute tells personal injury victims what happens in the event that they are partly to blame for causing or exacerbating their own harm in a personal injury accident. This situation can arise (for example) if someone is walking through a construction site but is not wearing a hard hat or if someone falls down a defective stairway after overlooking a warning sign. New York is one of a handful of states which permit personal injury cases to be filed no matter how much responsibility the person filing the suit may have. Even if the person injured and who is filing the suit is the predominant cause of the injury. The catch is this: the personal injury victim’s recovery will be reduced according to the amount of fault the victim bears. For example, should a judge or jury determine that by failing to seek prompt medical treatment for your injuries you are 60 percent responsible for the harm you suffered, any monetary judgment you can recover would be reduced by sixty percent.
- NY CPRL Sec. 214(5). This statute is known as New York’s personal injury “statute of limitations.” The purpose of this statute is simple: to set forth the amount of time that a personal injury victim has to file a lawsuit and seek compensation. In New York, this period of time is three years from the date either (1) your injury accident occurred; or (2) you knew or had reason to know you had suffered an injury, whichever occurs later. Once this three-year time period elapses, however, it becomes extremely difficult (or outright impossible) for you to pursue your claim for damages from the at-fault party.
- NY CPRL Sec. 1601. An injury accident can come about because of the actions of more than one person. When you suffer noneconomic harm (such as pain and suffering) as the result of a New York personal injury accident, determining who is responsible for payment of these noneconomic damages is governed by this statute. Specifically, this statute says that if a person is less than 50 percent responsible for the accident, that person cannot be held responsible for more than his or her proportionate share of the total noneconomic damage award. For instance: suppose that you are awarded $100,000 in noneconomic damages against two defendants, one of whom is 60 percent responsible for causing your injuries and the other who is 40 percent responsible. The person who is 40 percent responsible for the accident can only be held responsible for $40,000 of noneconomic damages. However, this is not so for the other individual, who can be held responsible for the complete $100,000 noneconomic damages award. (Understand, though, that you are not entitled to a “double recovery” – meaning if the one defendant pays his or her $40,000 share, you are only able to recover up to $60,000 from the other defendant.)
- NY CPRL Sec. R3216. This is one of several statutes that permit a defendant to request the court dismiss a personal injury case. Here, a court may grant a motion to dismiss your case if you fail to prosecute – that is, fail to press ahead – with your personal injury case and instead allow it to languish for too long. A judge can dismiss your personal injury case if it does not appear you are taking timely action to keep your case moving.
Other laws may at first blush appear to have little (if anything) to do with a personal injury case but can nonetheless have a profound impact on how your lawsuit turns out. In fact, there are a great number of laws – consisting of both state-enacted statutes as well as court decisions (called “caselaw”) – that can come to bear on the facts of your personal injury case. The party who is most familiar with these laws and how they operate (or the party who retains an attorney who is familiar with these laws) will have a distinct advantage over the other party in and out of the courtroom.
Seek Professional Assistance with Your New York Personal Injury Case
Representation and counsel from Parker Waichman LLP helps our clients achieve superior results in their New York personal injury cases. We do this in part by remaining on top of all the pertinent laws and case decisions that can impact our clients’ cases and chances of success. We also take the time to explain the laws that apply to your case so that you are not surprised or shocked by developments in your case but are instead empowered with knowledge. Call our office at 1-800-YOURLAWYER (1-800-968-7529) to learn more about how we can help you with your pursuit of monetary compensation following a New York personal injury case.
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