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How can I preserve my rights when the statute of limitations on a civil matter is quickly approaching?

New York, NY |

I have a legal dispute that has its statute of limitations quickly approaching. However, I have not yet found an attorney or filed suit. I was told that there may be some form of notice I can file with the court of the impending cause of action, and it preserves my rights for another 6 months beyond the statutory statute of limitations. Can anyone advise of what such a notice is called, what statute it is filed under, and what the cost of taking such action is while I look for an attorney?
Thank you.

P.S. Is the issue handled differently if I seek to file in Federal Court?

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Attorney answers 3


I believe the six month extension that you are referring to is only applicable to lawsuits that have already been instituted. There is a provision in the rules which permits cases that have been terminated to be reinsituted within that six month window. However, this provision does not apply to lawsuits that have not as yet been started. There are other extensions provided for such as disabillity, discovery, infancy, fraud, to name a few, but without any other information, it would not be appropriate to comment. Generally speaking, statue of limitations are hard and fast rules, so you better be careful.


The only way to extend the time in which to commence an action in New York’s state courts, otherwise referred to as tolling the statute, is to file a Summons with Notice in court. This will begin the case and get you an extra 120 days in which to serve the Summons with Notice. You can do this yourself. You must first buy an Index number when you go to file the Summons with Notice. Now before the 120 days expires, you must serve the Summons with Notice on the party that you have named as a (or the) defendant. You do this through a process server. When the defendant Answers the Summons with Notice, he/she will demand a Complaint. It is the Complaint that describes the basis for the lawsuit and states the causes of action and the damages claimed for which compensation is sought. By that time, you'd better have an attorney. Now, if you are suing the City or a municipal government agency you are probably too late since that requires the filing of a Notice of Claim which must be done within the first 90 days from the date of the incident. Hope this helps.


I would agree with my colleagues above, but would add to Mr. Marquez's post that the purchase of Index Number and filing of Summons with Notice must occur before the Statute of Limitations expires. The filing does not actually toll the Limitations period. It just gives you time after filing to serve the summons.

If you don't file before the Statute of Limitations expires, you will be forever time barred from bringing your case.

My advice is to get an attorney ASAP, and before the Statute of Limitations period expires.

I hope this helps. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at 718-720-7000 and ask for Guy.

DISCLAIMER: Although the above response is believed to be accurate as a general matter, it should not be relied upon as any type of legal advice that is specific to your situation. It is intended to provide general information to the reader. A definite answer should be based on a consultation with a lawyer. No attorney client relation is formed with my firm without a written contract.