Even minor accidents can change lives forever.
Our experienced personal injury attorneys have spoken with hundreds of people in Queens who are struggling to receive the support they need after a serious accident. Many face long roads to recovery, years of costly medical expenses and the distinct possibility that they will not be able to work anytime soon.
Filing A Queens Personal Injury Lawsuit
At Lipsig, Shapey, Manus & Moverman, our lawyers are committed to representing the rights of people injured in Queens. Many accident victims are entitled to file personal injury lawsuits, pursuing financial compensation in a court of law.
What Is Negligence?
While personal injury lawsuits often cite specific federal and state laws, the vast majority are actually based in a simple legal concept called “negligence.” In New York, negligence is the bedrock of every personal injury lawsuit and a leading driver of civil litigation in general.
The concept of negligence recognizes that certain people owe others a duty of care. Doctors, for example, are bound to treat their patients according to a medical standard. Likewise, businesses and real estate owners have a duty to protect others from dangers that may exist on their property. Drivers have an obligation to follow the rules of the road. Manufacturers have a duty to protect consumers from unreasonably dangerous products.
Negligence is what happens when someone violates one of these duties and someone else is injured as a result. As a society, we agree that people should do everything reasonable to avoid harming others. The theory of negligence is how we capture this ethical duty and bring it into the courtroom.
The Elements Of A Negligence Lawsuit
There are four basic components to the concept of negligence when it is applied in a court of law:
- Duty of Care – the defendant owed you, the plaintiff, a duty of care
- Breach of Duty – the defendant failed to act with the same level of care and attention that a reasonable person would use in similar circumstances
- Causation – the defendant’s breach or violation of their duty led to injury or harm
- Damages – the injury or harm caused by the defendant’s negligence forced you to incur losses, like medical expenses and / or pain and suffering
Victims will have to prove each one of these elements in order to secure compensation.
Courts can decide that a plaintiff and defendant both share in the responsibility for an accident or injury. What happens, for instance, when both drivers involved in a crash made mistakes that led to the accident? The answer to that question is “comparative negligence,” a legal theory that allows injured New Yorkers to pursue personal injury lawsuits even if the accident was partially their own fault.
The bottom line is that being partially responsible doesn’t mean a victim immediately becomes ineligible to secure compensation. In court, a judge or jury will decide how much blame for the accident should be attributed to each party involved. Then, damages will be assessed based on that finding. According to New York’s Civil Practice Law and Rules, courts should determine what percentage of fault is attributable to each party and then award damages proportionally. In short, negligent individuals can still be held accountable for their actions or omissions, even in cases when the victim was also negligent.
Common Types Of Personal Injury Lawsuits
So long as a party did not use the appropriate care and attention in carrying out a duty, and this violation caused injury, the possibility for a personal injury lawsuit exists. As a result, personal injury lawsuits can arise from almost any situation in which one person or company owes someone else a duty of care.
With that being said, personal injury lawsuits are most commonly filed in relation to:
- Traffic Accidents
- Construction Accidents
- Slip & Fall
- Medical Malpractice
- Dangerous Drugs & Medical Devices
- Defective Products
- Dog Bites
Workplace accidents are particularly common, especially in industries like construction, where workers are exposed to numerous potential dangers on a regular basis. As construction continues to pick up in Queens, we can only expect more workers to suffer severe injuries.
To learn more about the most common types of personal injury lawsuits, click here.
Lawsuits Against The Government
Where personal injury lawsuits are concerned, state and local governments are treated differently than other defendants. There are specific laws in New York City that apply to people who have been injured by the negligence of a government agency or employee. Note that these requirements should not apply when a government employee was not acting as an employee of the government at the time of negligence.
The time limits for filing a claim are much stricter when that claim is being filed against the government. Before filing a lawsuit against governmental entities, you will have 90 days to file a “notice of claim” first, whether that entity is the State itself, a county of New York or New York City. In essence, a notice of claim alerts the governmental entity that you have been injured in an incident involving municipal property or employees.
We suggest that you have an experienced injury attorney file this notice on your behalf, since meeting the government’s requirements are crucial. Once your notice of claim has been filed, the government has 30 days to begin investigating your claim, a time period during which you cannot file a personal injury lawsuit. After the 30-day investigation period has elapsed, most victims will have 1 year and 90 days, beginning from the date of the accident, to file suit, the New York City Bar Association reports. Family members who intend to file a wrongful death lawsuit will have 2 years from the date of a loved one’s death to bring a complaint against the government.
New York: No-Fault Car Insurance & Civil Lawsuits
New York is a “no-fault” state, which means that your own car insurance company is required to pay for at least some of your medical expenses and lost wages, regardless of who was responsible for the accident. While this rule certainly poses benefits for some accident victims, it can also restrict the possibility of filing a personal injury lawsuit.
In line with State law, victims injured in car accidents are only eligible to pursue a civil lawsuit if their injuries are sufficiently severe or their medical expenses reach a certain threshold.
New York doesn’t have a written statute addressing liability in dog bite cases, but most will be governed by a “one bite” rule. Animal owners can be held responsible for injuries caused by a pet if they should have known that the animal posed a risk to others. In most cases, a single bite in the past is sufficient to have a dog considered “dangerous” and thus hold an owner accountable.
How Long Do I Have To File A Lawsuit?
That depends on how you were injured. Like every other state, New York has established laws that limit the amount of time injured people have to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Statutes Of Limitation In Queens
Collectively known as “statutes of limitation,” these laws serve in most cases as a hard limit. Most lawsuits filed after the relevant statute of limitations has run out will be dismissed without a second thought. That means time, for the vast majority of injured New Yorkers, is of the essence.
- General Personal Injury – 3 years from the date of the accident (not necessarily the date that negligent conduct began)
- Car accident cases, along with slip and fall lawsuits and product liability claims fall under this 3-year statute of limitations
- Medical Malpractice – 2.5 years (30 months) beginning on the date of actual malpractice or the end of a continuous course of treatment administered by the healthcare professional you choose to sue
- Wrongful Death – 2 years from the date of death
In some cases, victims don’t realize immediately that they are injured or, alternatively, that their injuries may have been caused by the negligence of someone else. There’s no way to file lawsuit over negligence if you do not, first, recognize that someone has been negligent. Thankfully, many of New York State’s statutes of limitation have an exception to deal with this problem: the discovery rule.
Discovery Rules In New York
When a discovery rule applies, the applicable statute of limitations can be “tolled,” or paused, and made to begin on the date when a victim discovered their injuries or became aware of potential negligence, rather than the actual date of the accident.
These discovery rules can be rather narrow. Where medical malpractices are concerned, New York State law only allows for the discovery rule in foreign object cases – when a patient learns after surgery that a foreign object was mistakenly left inside their body. When a patient discovers the existence of a foreign object, they have one year from the date of that discovery to file a medical malpractice claim. In general, New York’s courts do not pause the statute of limitations in any other medical malpractice cases.
Statutes Of Repose
This can provide crucial extra time to injured individuals, but note that most statutes also contain a “statute of repose,” which serves as a hard limit. Statutes of repose act like a counter-balance to the discovery rule. New York’s legislature has decided that statutes of limitation cannot be “tolled” indefinitely; the window for filing a personal injury lawsuit must close at some point. The statute of repose defines this ultimate endpoint.
Damages In A Personal Injury Lawsuit
Monetary damages can be negotiated in a settlement, agreed upon by plaintiffs and defendant, or awarded by a judge or jury. It’s very difficult, from the outset, to estimate how much compensation any one individual case will be worth. Damages will hinge on the severity of a victim’s injuries, as well as the strength of evidence and the level of negligence exhibited by the defendant.
Broadly speaking, most successful personal injury lawsuits result in “compensatory” damages, monetary payments intended to make the victim “whole” again. In effect, the idea is to return an injured individual to the financial position they would have occupied if the accident had never occured. Of course, this isn’t in possible in reality, but at a minimum, damages will compensate most victims for their medical expenses, property damage and lost wages. These losses are fairly easy to quantify. Other damages don’t come with a bill, but are equally compensable in a lawsuit.
Most personal injury lawsuits demand damages to compensate victims for the effects of emotional trauma, along with the sheer experience of pain. Where defendants are found to have acted with particular recklessness, some victims will be awarded “punitive” damages, in addition to compensatory ones. These damages are not intended to make the victim “whole,” but to punish the defendant and discourage negligence in the future.
Contact Our Queens Personal Injury Lawyers
Serious injuries can be devastating, but you don’t have to bear this burden alone. If you believe that someone else’s negligence led to your injuries, our experienced personal injury attorneys can help. Over decades of successful trial experience, we’ve secured more than $500 million in compensation for our clients.
Contact the lawyers at Lipsig, Shapey, Manus & Moverman today to receive a free consultation. You can learn more about your rights and legal options now – at no charge and no obligation.