Wellborn Paluch, LLP Blog

Sunday, September 25, 2016

New York Extends Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Actions Involving Environmental Contamination

A “statute of limitations” is a hard deadline within which an injured plaintiff must file a civil lawsuit before it is considered “time barred.” Generally speaking, failure to meet a statute of limitations deadline is considered fatal to the case, and will result in the permanent waiver of the right to any recovery as a result of the incident. However, as the New York General Assembly recently acknowledged, certain injuries are not always discoverable until well past the deadline is missed – through no fault of the injured plaintiff. As a result, legislators recently enacted new laws to help extend the deadline for some of the deadliest of injuries: those caused by environmental contamination.

In July 2016, New York’s Governor Cuomo signed into law State Assembly Bill No. A09568. This bill takes into account the designation of certain environmental areas as “Superfund sites” under federal law. A Superfund site is an area with significant concerns of environmental contamination, warranting further investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency. Once an area is designated as a Superfund site, the polluters must follow certain protocol in order to effectuate a timely and safe cleanup of the area. The law also provides funding for the cleanup, provided the polluters follow the mandates of the EPA and its agents.

Oftentimes, pollution happens very slowly, with the creation of major contamination not readily apparent until many years later. This becomes problematic for nearby residents who have been exposed to the toxins over a span of years, only to discover resulting injuries well past the traditional three-year deadline for personal injuries. In other words, under the old statute of limitations, those injured by pollutants had just three years from the date the injury occurred – or should have reasonably been discovered – in order to make a claim for damages.

Now, under the new laws, the three-year statute of limitations does not start to “tick” until the contaminated area is designated as a Superfund – thereby allowing victims the opportunity to file their claim upon realizing that their injuries were likely caused by caustic chemicals in the air or drinking water.

The measures came amidst widespread public concerns involving both the Hoosick Falls in New York, and the well-publicized pollution in Flint, Michigan.

Contact a personal injury attorney today!

To learn more about personal injury law or to discuss your recent injuries, please contact Wellborn Paluch today: 1-844-855-HURT.

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