New York City is home to an estimated 8.5 million people. Manhattan, Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens and Staten Island are the five boroughs that make up New York City. Each has a distinct personality and history, but all follow the same laws, including personal injury laws. Even so, understanding how personal injury cases work in Manhattan and the rest of N.Y.C. isn’t easy.
If you’ve sustained injuries or someone you love died due to another’s negligence, you deserve compensation for the damages. However, the city’s structure and the state’s laws are complex, making it challenging to understand and navigate. Knowing the basics may help determine whether you would benefit from working with a Manhattan personal injury lawyer.
NYC’s Administrative Structure
The New York City government leadership consists of a mayor and a 51-member city council, all elected by city residents. The council serves as the legislative body, making the rules, ordinances and local laws. However, local legislation does not cover personal injury law. Even so, local laws can impact the outcome of a personal injury case. For example, if someone slips and falls on a snow-covered sidewalk in front of a residential property, the homeowner may be negligent if they do not clear the snow according to the city’s administrative code.
Every county outside of N.Y.C. has a county court that handles civil cases with claimants pursuing amounts up to $25,000. The Big Apple’s five boroughs each sit in a separate county. Instead of having five county courts for the city, the city eliminated the county court. The city’s civil court handles all personal injury claims with damages up to $50,000. The New York City Supreme Court handles legal claims with claimants pursuing higher damage awards.
Types of Personal Injury Cases
Personal injury is an umbrella term for cases involving physical harm to an individual due to another’s actions. The other party’s action may be negligent or willful. Examples of types of personal injury cases include the following:
- Traffic accidents involving vehicles or a vehicle and a cyclist or pedestrian
- Slip-and-fall accidents
- Workplace accidents and work-related injuries
- Product use injuries or accidents
- Medical malpractice
In any of the above instances, victims may die of their injuries, leading to a potential wrongful death case.
New York State Laws
Whether you live in Manhattan or one of the other four boroughs, New York has several state laws that impact whether you can file a personal injury claim and the outcome of the case. Two statutes affect all personal injury claims: comparative negligence and statute of limitations. Other relevant laws vary depending on the specifics of your claim, but we review some of the most common.
Comparative negligence laws are based on the idea that more than one person often holds liability in an accident. When plaintiffs are partially responsible for the accident that caused their injuries, they should still be able to recover damages due to another party’s negligence. Most states adhere to either a modified comparative fault or a pure comparative negligence law.
Pure comparative negligence rules allow injured parties to pursue compensation even if they are partially at fault. However, the court reduces the payment by a percentage equal to their level of liability. For instance, if the court awards $50,000 in damages, but the plaintiff is 10% liable, the plaintiff receives $45,000 (less court and attorney fees).
Modified comparative fault states work the same way, up to a point. Whereas a pure comparative fault state permits compensation even if a plaintiff is 99% to blame, modified comparative fault laws establish a threshold. When the plaintiff’s liability level crosses the threshold, they can’t recover any damages. States that adhere to this law set their thresholds at either 50% or 51%. Fortunately for Manhattan residents, New York is a pure comparative negligence state.
Statute of Limitations
The statute of limitations is a strict legal deadline for doing business with the courts. Civil and criminal courts both have these deadlines. Each type of court proceeding has its own statute of limitations. In New York, most personal injury cases have a three-year deadline, beginning on the day of the accident.
However, wrongful death cases have a two-year time limit. Medical malpractice claims have a more complex statute of limitations. Claimants have two years and six months from the date the malpractice occurred or from the end of the continuous treatment they received from the practitioner they are suing.
New York requires all vehicle owners to purchase sufficient car insurance, and the state establishes the types of coverage and minimum limits required. Bodily injury liability and personal injury protection cover medical expenses. Bodily injury liability pays these expenses for others who sustain injuries in an accident you cause. PIP pays for your medical expenses, income loss and limited relevant miscellaneous costs, regardless of who caused the accident.
While both coverage types can help you cover your losses, they may not be enough to sufficiently compensate you for all damages. A severe injury can lead to long-term physical and vocational issues, resulting in losses exceeding policy limits. Furthermore, insurance does not compensate you for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering. You can only pursue these additional damages through a personal injury lawsuit.
Workers’ compensation insurance is supposed to protect workers who sustain injuries on the job. However, employees often don’t understand what rights workers’ compensation laws afford them. Insurance companies take advantage of this lack of knowledge to lower how much the company pays in health care and lost income benefits.
A wrongful death claim can arise from any personal injury case. In these cases, someone must file a lawsuit on behalf of the deceased. However, state law limits who is eligible to the following:
- A surviving spouse
- The children of the deceased
- The deceased’s parents
- The deceased’s siblings
In any case with more than one eligible claimant, all claims are combined into one, with a single representative handling the case. The state also prioritizes eligibility, giving spouses and children priority over other relatives. The parents and siblings can only file when the deceased has no surviving spouse or children.
New York’s dog bite law establishes strict liability for dog owners. If a dog bites and injures another individual, the owner is automatically liable for the victim’s medical expenses without proof of fault or negligence.
The claimant may file for additional damages if the individual can demonstrate that the dog had a dangerous disposition and that the owner knew or should have known about it. The law does provide exemptions for working police dogs and service dogs. However, an attorney can evaluate the case to determine whether the circumstances fit the law’s exemption clauses.
Manhattan’s Experienced Personal Injury Lawyers
Personal injury law is complex, presenting numerous challenges for those who sustain injuries due to another’s negligence. You don’t need to navigate the system alone. The attorneys at Cellino Law have decades of experience handling personal injury claims. We understand the law and know how the insurance and legal systems operate. Let us help you pursue justice and the compensation you deserve. We’re available 24/7 and don’t charge any upfront fees. We don’t get paid until we win your case. Get in touch with us today for a free consultation.