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Your Long Island Personal Injury Case: The Basics

People love living in Long Island because they can enjoy the slower pace of suburban life while taking advantage of the proximity to New York City. But just because life on Long Island moves at a slower pace than it does in the city, doesn't mean that accidents don't happen. If you've been injured in Nassau or Suffolk County because of the negligent, wrongful, or reckless act of another, you may be able to recover money for losses under New York personal injury law.

Take a look at FindLaw's article on first steps in a personal injury claim for tips after your injury. Then come back to this article for more information on your Long Island personal injury case.

How much time do you have to file a lawsuit?

When you're healing up from an injury, the last thing you want to worry about is filing a lawsuit. However, you should be aware that in Long Island, under New York law, the statute of limitations for most personal injury cases is three years. This means that you only have three years from the date of the accident or injury to file your claim.

There are exceptions for certain injuries that are unlikely to be discovered soon after they occur. For example, a personal injury claim based on exposure to toxic chemicals can be filed within a period of time after the injury was discovered or should have been discovered, rather than the time of exposure.

How and where should you file your case?

If you've tried to settle your personal injury dispute outside of court and think it's time to file a lawsuit, here's some information you should know. If you're claiming less than $25,000 of losses, you'll file your case with the County Court. If you're claiming over $25,000, you'll file your case with your local Supreme Court. There are different county and supreme courts for Nassau County and Suffolk County. [Check out FindLaw's Nassau and Suffolk County Courthouse Resources page for more information]. Finally, if you'll be representing yourself, New York's CourtHelp has do-it-yourself forms and information.

What if you're partially responsible for the accident?

In Long Island, under New York law, liability for an injury is based on fault. New York follows a system of comparative negligence to apportion liability for an injury. This means that if you're found to be partly at fault by a Long Island court, your recovery will be reduced by your percentage of fault. For example, Nina, Joe, and Bill are in a car accident. Nina is injured, and the court finds that Nina is 60% at fault, and Bill and Joe are each 20% at fault. Nina can recover 40% of her losses resulting from her injury from Joe and Bill. She cannot recover the full amount of her losses because she was found to be 60% at fault.

If there are several people at fault for an injury, they will each be responsible for paying for their proportion of fault. However, under New York's system of joint and several liability, an injured person can recover all of her losses from any one person or entity who is more than 50% at fault. Take the example above, but pretend instead that Nina is only 20% at fault, Joe is 60% at fault, and Bill is 20% at fault. This means that Nina can sue Joe for the full 80% of her losses for which she was not responsible, even though Joe was only found to be 60% at fault. Then it will be up to Joe to pay Nina and recover Bill's 20% from Bill himself.

What can you recover in your personal injury case?

You can recover any losses that resulted from your injury. Examples of common damages claimed in personal injury suits include:

  1. Past and future medical expenses
  2. Past and future lost wages
  3. Cost of damage to property or loss of use of that property
  4. Loss of services or income from your spouse, if your spouse was killed or injured
  5. Losses resulting from disability or disfigurement
  6. Pain and suffering for serious injuries
  7. Emotional distress

Be sure to keep careful track of expenses you've incurred as a result of your injury, such as medical expenses and lost wages. This information will be important for calculating damages in your personal injury case. Take a look at FindLaw's section on Injury Damages for more helpful information.

Now that you've learned more about the ins and outs of personal injury cases in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, be sure to visit FindLaw's section on Accident and Injury Law for more answers to your questions.

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