New York Statute of Limitations, Civil Actions

The New York Statute of Limitations for civil actions sets a time limit after an injury or civil wrong occurs, during which an injured party can file a lawsuit. After that period of time expires, the injured party is no longer permitted to file a claim in a New York state court to litigate that matter. The statute ensures that lawsuits that have merit and worthy of being heard are filed within a reasonable time or not at all.

How Does the Statute of Limitations Operate?

The period of time to file a claim will vary depending upon the type of incident that occurred. A claim against a doctor for medical malpractice may be for a different length of time than against an accountant for negligence or fraud. The New York statute of limitations can generally be found within the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules (C.P.L.R.), Article 2 and covers the following rules and exceptions in greater detail.

When does the New York Statute of Limitations Begin?

Other than for specific exceptions, the New York statute of limitations generally begins to run at the time when a “cause of action arises” – in other words, at the time when an injury occurs that would qualify for a lawsuit to be filed in a New York state court.

What is the Discovery Rule?

There are times when a person is unable to discover that they have been injured. For example, fraud that is concealed by an accountant and is not easily discoverable or a medical condition resulting from a doctor’s misdiagnosis that can only be detected after the patient’s health deteriorates. It wouldn’t be fair or reasonable to require the injured party to file a lawsuit when they could not have detected the injury. As a result, in some instances the New York statute of limitations begins to run from the time the injured party discovers or should have discovered that they have been injured.

Delaying or Tolling the New York Statute of Limitations

There are times when a person is unable to discover that they have been injured. It wouldn’t be fair or reasonable to require the injured party to have filed a lawsuit during a time when they would not have known that they were injured. As a result, in some limited instances the New York statute of limitations may begin to run from the time the injured party discovers or should have discovered that they have been injured. As the application of the rule is complex and may only be provided in some areas of law but not others, it is important to speak to an experienced attorney as soon as possible to determine if the discovery rule applies. You must file your case in court before the statute of limitations and any exception expires.

Calculating the length of time that a plaintiff has to file a lawsuit is complicated and involves many factors and exceptions. Parties that have suffered significant injuries or damages may wish to consult with a New York attorney to ensure that all claims and notices are filed within the time limits set forth by law.

New York Statute of Limitations for Civil Actions

Personal Injury and Negligence

3 years, generally. Discovery Rule may apply for exposure to toxic substances.

Wrongful Death

2 years.

Medical Malpractice

2 years and 6 months.

Legal and Professional Malpractice

3 years.

Products Liability

3 years.

Assault and Battery

1 year.

False Imprisonment

1 year.


Written contracts 6 years. Oral contracts 6 years.


6 years.

Personal Property Damages

3 years.


3 years.

Libel / Slander / Defamation

1 year from the date of publication (or the date when spoken).

Debt Collection Accounts

6 years.

Collection of Rent

6 years.

Judgment Enforcement

20 years.

Liability of State and Municipalities

Notice of claim required, 90 days from the date of the occurrence giving rise to suit and claim must be filed within 1 year and 90 days from the same date (1 year after notice of claim). Other provisions will apply, including lawsuits against the State limited to the Court of Claims (trial by judge).

No-Fault Insurance

Yes – no-fault insurance applies.

Consumer Fraud Complaints

New York Office of the Attorney General

Telephone: (800) 771-7755

Please Take Note: The statute of limitations laws presented are strictly provided to you “as-is”. While we believe that the legal information is accurate as of the date created, we cannot and do not provide any guarantee, analysis or conclusions. The law may have changed since this article was published. The only way to ensure that the statute of limitations law you are reading is up to date and applies to your specific issue, is to have a legal consultation with an attorney licensed to practice law in the state of New York.

Michael M Wechsler, Esq.

Michael M. Wechsler is an experienced attorney, founder of and former SVP of He has published hundreds of articles online covering a variety of legal topics and regularly provides free legal advice at The Law Forums.

Michael M Wechsler, Esq. – has written posts on Guide.


  1. Mr. G says

    when does the statute clock begin: for example: service provided in March 2003, but invoice was sent in Dec. 2003. Do the 6 years count from the date the service was performed, or from the date the invoice was submitted?

  2. admin says

    Statute of limitations for what? It is never the service date for anything as far as I am aware. It is also not the date of an invoice since such a date does not constitute a breach of an agreement.

  3. Charles Wittreich says

    New York State Tax Warrants have a 20 year statute of limitations which is renewable. They can hng you up for 60 years. The IRS has a 10 year statute of limitations. How can we get the State in line with the federal statute?

  4. Henry says

    Can the statute of limitations be tolled. Here are some facts.

    Victim was killed by a drunk driver crossing a street.
    Victim had no ID on them at the time of death.
    Victim was burried as a “Jane/John Doe”.
    Victims family had no idea what happened to victim.
    Victims family guessed the individual was burried as a “Jane/John Doe”.
    Years later victims family finally convinced the authorities to exhume the “Jane/John Doe” for DNA testing.
    DNA testing came back as a match and victim was correctly identified.

    Would this be considered an exception to the statute of limitations to file a wrongful death suit.

    Thank you for your assistance.

  5. Danny J. Goldthrite Sr. says

    Discovery… clock starts to tick when injury is discovered by
    conclusive evidence of the facts. If justice seeks the truth, then the facts first must apply before a case can begin.

    If I were sued wrongfully and the petitioner of the wrongful suit knowingly sued me without probable cause and I find out two years later then the time I discovered the concrete fact the clock begins. Correct? I would first have to find evidence that I was wrongfully sued ie. court clerk documents.