A tort law is a law that governs injuries or harm caused by one person to another person. Tort laws cover every conceivable type of harm, such as physical injuries, property violations, and deprivations of rights. Thus, tort laws often overlap with criminal laws.  However, tort laws are different from criminal laws, mainly with respect to the types of remedies in tort law.

Every state has its own unique body of tort laws. They differ due to the various backgrounds and needs associated with each geographic region. Tort liability may lead to fines or injunctions, but generally is not punishable by incarceration.

Do New York Tort Laws Contain Any Unique Provisions?

Yes- the tort laws of New York have several characteristics that make it different from other states.  Some of these aspects include:

  • Limitations on Damages: Damages are monetary awards paid out to the victim of a tort to compensate them for losses.  Many states place caps (limitations) on the amount of money that a plaintiff may recover in a tort case. However, New York generally does not restrict monetary damages in tort lawsuits. Specifically, there is no cap for medical malpractice damages in New York, although new proposals are being introduced regarding this.
  • Statute of Limitations: A statute of limitations defines the period when a lawsuit may be filed. For example, a tort claim must usually be filed within a certain time period after the tort has occurred, such as one year. New York has several specific laws governing the statute of limitations for torts. In particular, medical malpractice suits must be filed within 2 years and 6 months of the faulty medical or dental treatment.
  • Divorce and Tort Law overlap: Many divorce claims often involve torts, especially in instances of abuse. New York has several tort laws that may affect the outcome of a divorce proceeding. For example, in New York, it is possible to include a claim of “cruel and inhumane treatment” within a divorce lawsuit.

Also, New York is the only state that uses the term “law” for regulations that other states list as “codes.” This has often caused confusion for out-of-state plaintiffs and attorneys who may be involved in a tort claim in New York.  

Another area of confusion in New York law is that the state legislature has never clearly stated the difference between procedural rules that are created by courts and those that are created by the legislature. This could have an outcome on a tort claim, especially with regards to evidence procedures.

Do I Need a Lawyer?

New York tort law can be a challenge to deal with due to its many unique rules and provisions. Also, New York tort laws are constantly changing- the state is often a trendsetter when it comes to tort reform. If you are involved in any type of tort claim in New York, you may wish to hire an experienced New York tort lawyer. An attorney who is familiar with the subtleties of New York tort law will be able to advise you on your claim. A qualified New York lawyer can provide you more information if there is a legal basis for your case.