How much time do you have to commence your maritime lawsuit? A critical element
of any maritime injury case is the
statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is a
legal term for deadline. After that deadline expires, the case will be time-barred. That
means it’s too late to bring an action. The defendant could have been outrageously
negligent….the victim could have been left a quadriplegic. The court must dismiss
the case, even if the judge wanted to be sympathetic to the victim. No matter how
strong a case may be…one has to preserve their rights by filing an action before the
statute of limitations runs.

Other statutes of limitation may relate to a case…some of which are of a maritime
nature, and some of which fall under ordinary civil law. These causes of action may
follow the code of civil procedure for the state where the action is pending. Or they
may follow federal law. Unlike maritime law, statutes of limitations are not uniform
throughout the fifty states. As a general example, a negligence action in New York
State such as a motor vehicle accident has a three year statute of limitations…but in
New Jersey, an injured motorist only gets two (2) years to bring an action. New York
is more liberal to the plaintiff in other causes of action also. The statute of limitations
in New York for a medical malpractice action is two and a half years. Compare this to
two years, which is what the state of Virginia gives a patient for the same cause of

Two lessons to be learned here….make a note of the day an accident occurred or
circumstances leading to an injury took place…AND if there are other issues of state
law or federal law, learn the applicable statute of limitations. Other causes of action
may include breach of contract, wrongful termination, slander, libel, fraud, or
intentional infliction of emotional distress.

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Maritime Law Statute of Limitations - Jones Act - Unseaworthiness
Statutes of Limitations in Maritime Injuries - How Long Do You Have - How Much Time to File Marine Injury Lawsuit
In a Jones Act lawsuit, the statute of
limitations is three (3) years from the
date of the accident giving rise to the
injuries. In an unseaworthiness lawsuit,
the statute of limitations is also three (3)
years from the date of the accident
giving rise to the injuries. There is a
historic concept in maritime law known
as laches, an extension of the statute of
limitations because of the unusual
nature of maritime employment and
difficulties faced by seamen. Let me put
it this way…I wouldn’t pin any hopes on
the laches “safety net”. If the statute of
limitations is blown…the battle is lost
before it’s begun…I live by that rule.
Some New York Statutes of

Here are a few statutes of
limitations followed in New
York under its rules for civil
procedure (CPLR). Keep in
mind that your case may apply
the law of a different state...or
may not apply state law...
depending on the subject
matter, jurisdictional issues,
conflict of law and other
issues. These are included
merely to bring attention to the
fact that causes of action
outside those in general
maritime law could enter the

▪ Intentional Torts - One Year -
these include defamation
(libel & slander), false
right to privacy violations)

▪ Tort Actions Against City,
Town, County - One Year and
90 Days

▪ Medical Malpractice - Two &
One Half Years

▪Personal Injury - Motor
Vehicle, Slip & Fall on
Premises (non municipality) -
Three Years

▪Strict Liability in Tort - Three

These are a few general
statutes of limitation. However,
if you have a matter involving
such a cause of action, check
with the New York CPLR.