Important Time Periods for New York Business Owners Contemplating Litigation

By: Ryan T. Emery

Perhaps you have seen commercials from personal injury law firms trying to convince you to call them immediately if you have been injured because your claim may be time-sensitive. While these firms are obviously trying to get your business, there is some truth in this type of statement. Virtually any claim you may have against an individual or entity has a “Statute of Limitations” attached to it, meaning the amount of time you have to commence a lawsuit before your claim is deemed time-barred.

These time periods apply not only in personal injury situations but in commercial situations as well. Every state has its own applicable Statute of Limitations so please consult with an attorney admitted in your particular state. For business owners in New York, listed below are some time periods (but not all) you should be aware of:

  • If you are in the construction business or any business where you contract for or provide services, you generally have six (6) years to bring a claim for breach of contract.
  • If you are a seller of goods or enter into contracts for the purchase of goods, the Uniform Commercial Code will likely apply, which provides four (4) years to bring a claim for breach of this type of contract. Please note that a claim involving the sale of real property (i.e. land) carries the above-mentioned six (6) year time period.
  • If you have a claim for injury/damage to your business’s property (be it real or personal) or you believe your property has been unlawfully taken, you typically have three (3) years to bring such a claim.
  • If you already have successfully obtained a judgment against someone, you normally have 20 years to collect on that judgment.
  • If you received your annual real property tax assessment on your commercial property and believe the assessment is too high, there are special procedures and deadlines (some as short as a few weeks) for challenging the assessment that are beyond the scope of this article. My colleague Rick James has laid out these procedures and deadlines here.

These are only some general guidelines for the various timelines but show how important it may be to act quickly if you think you have a claim. It is recommended that you do not rely solely on the information contained here as laws and the case law interpreting those laws consistently change. Always consult with a qualified attorney to discuss your options and determine the statute of limitations for your particular claim.


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