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Personal Injury Law in New York

Personal injury law encompasses more than just physical injuries to the body. A fender bender or destroyed real estate constitutes an injury just like a breach of contract. The New York State personal injury statutes are exceedingly complex, too. Simply proving fault in a personal injury case can be a difficult legal challenge.

If you've been injured in Buffalo, Syracuse or New York City, use LawInfo's New York personal injury articles to learn about the laws surrounding your case and to find a qualified attorney.

New York Statute of Limitations

A statute of limitations limits how much time after an injury occurs that a plaintiff has to pursue legal action against a defendant. Once the statute "runs out," a lawsuit cannot be pursued. New York's civil statute of limitations includes:

  • Six years for fraud.
  • Three years for injury (or damage) to property.
  • Two years for wrongful death.
  • Three years for personal injury.
  • Two years and six months from the date of a medical malpractice incident OR from the end of continuous treatment from the health care institute.
  • Six years for breaking written or oral contracts.

Contributory Negligence in New York

Negligence is a common legal theory used to determine a personal injury case. Typically, a court determines whether a plaintiff is due compensation for damages based on negligence.

New York law states that compensation for damages may be diminished based on contributory negligence. This means that if the court finds that the plaintiff shares in the responsibility for their personal injury, their compensation may be lowered proportionately (but not barred entirely).

Negligence defers to the principal of the "reasonably prudent person," or an ideally responsible person. Take someone who decides to administer amateur emergency aid to an injured person. If a reasonably prudent person would've only contacted emergency medical professionals, the defendant may be found negligent.

There are four elements to proving negligence. These elements can be viewed as legal questions about the defendant's actions and the plaintiff's injuries:

  1. Duty of Care—Was the defendant responsible for ensuring the plaintiff's safety during the injuring incident?
  2. Breach of Duty—Did the defendant breach their duty of care?
  3. Causation—Was the breach of duty responsible for the plaintiff's injuries? Were the injuries within the reasonable scope of the defendant's duty to prevent?
  4. Damages—Do the injuries represent actual damages such as medical treatment bills that can be compensated?

New York Product Liability

Product liability is a special branch of personal injury law that addresses the link between injuries or damages from a product and the manufacturer's liability for compensation. Product liability cases ask questions like:

  • Were the injuries sustained from user error or a product defect?
  • Did the manufacturer owe a duty of care to the consumer to prevent the injuries specific to the case?
  • Did the manufacturer provide sufficient warning about the dangers of the product?
  • Was the product defect specific to the case or a broader design or manufacturing defect?

New York product liability lawsuits may be brought to court based on one or any combination of three claims: strict products liability, negligence or breach of warranty.

Strict products liability claims involve strictly proving the existence of a manufacturing or design defect in a product and its connection to the injury.

Breach of warranty claims involve proving that the manufacturer or product broke the terms of an express warranty (e.g. printed warranties or advertisements) or an implied warranty (i.e. the product can be used safely in a specified manner).

Speak with a Personal Injury Attorney

Injuries cost money, including time away from work, medical bills and other complications. You should have an attorney help you with your claim. Not sure if you have a good injury case? Speak to a local personal injury attorney about the merits of your case. This one step can help you protect your rights and take the proper next steps.

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