What Is the Statute of Limitations on Construction Accidents in New York?
Injured construction workers have the right to seek compensation either from workers’ comp insurance or personal injury claims against third parties. However, there are laws that limit the time in which claims may be made.
Because of these limitations, injured construction workers are strongly advised to take immediate action to pursue the benefits they deserve. Take a closer look at what the statute of limitations on construction accidents in New York can mean for your case.
Understanding Statutes of Limitations
Most legal actions, be they criminal or civil, have time limits known as statutes as limitations. They set deadlines for all manner of legal actions, including criminal prosecutions and personal injury lawsuits. Once a deadline has passed, the right to take certain legal action typically vanishes.
Why Statutes of Limitations Exist
Statutes of limitations serve to safeguard the rights of the accused. When legal action against someone is delayed, evidence problems arise as the quality of evidence degrades as time marches on. Statutes of limitations protect individuals from cases built on substandard and questionable evidence.
The Statute of Limitations on New York Construction Accidents
The statute of limitations for construction accidents in New York depends on the source of compensation. After any given construction accident, an injured worker may have a workers’ compensation claim, a third-party claim, or both.
Workers’ Comp Claims
For workers’ comp claims, the statute of limitations in New York is two years from the date of the injury. However, if a worker is suffering from an occupational illness or disease caused by work, they have two years from the date they discovered or should have discovered their condition.
For example, a construction worker who falls from a building due to employer negligence will have two years from the date of the fall to file a workers’ comp claim.
But a construction worker who develops a condition due to exposure to a hazardous substance will have two years from the date they discovered their condition (or should have discovered it).
Third-party personal injury claims have a longer statute of limitations in New York of three years. These types of claims involve negligent or unlawfully acting parties who are not a part of the workplace.
For example, a food delivery driver pulling onto a construction site is a third party, as is a pedestrian who crosses the work zone. When these parties cause accidents, injured workers may sue them apart from or in conjunction with a workers’ comp claim against their employer.
Exceptions to Statutes of Limitations for Construction Accidents
On-the-job injuries and diseases that manifest gradually extend the beginning of the workers’ comp statute of limitations to the time the disease or injury was first perceived — or should have been perceived — by the worker. Cases in this category have an overall three-year statute of limitations instead of a two-year limit.
Exceptions to the personal injury statute of limitations of three years include:
- Legal Disability: The injured party is under a legal disability, such as age or mental incapacity, which means that the statute of limitations begins to run once the disability is lifted.
- Discovery Rule: This rule tolls the statute of limitations until the injured worker discovers or should have realized they have developed an occupational illness or injury
- Government Agency: If a government agency, such as the Department of Sanitation, is allegedly liable, the statute of limitations is shorter
The courts may also allow for an exception when the potential defendant has left the jurisdiction for a period of four or more months.
Other Timing Considerations
Statutes of limitations may appear to give significant time for workers to seek compensation. However, no injured worker should ever wait to seek compensation. Time degrades evidence, which in turn, weakens compensation claims. Insurance companies presented with weak claims deny these claims or pay them out for less.
Common evidence issues that arise over time include:
- Loss of video footage
- Decreasing reliability of witness recall
- Witnesses moving or becoming unavailable
Additionally, the faster an injured worker takes action, the more quickly they can receive compensation to deal with their losses.
How an Attorney Can Help
Once you hire an experienced personal injury attorney to represent you, you no longer have to worry about deadlines and rules. Your attorney will ensure that your claim remains in compliance with all rules of procedure and will fight to get you properly compensated in a reasonable period of time.
Contact Our Skilled Injury Team Today
If you have suffered an injury in a construction accident, time is of the essence for filing your compensation claim. The injury team at Silberstein, Awad & Miklos can determine your next steps toward compensation. Contact Silberstein, Awad & Miklos for a free consultation with a trusted construction accident attorney today.