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Is it three years or 6 years?May 4, 2018

Contact Chiropractic, P.C. v New York City Tr. Auth., 2018 NY Slip Op 03093 (2018)

4-3 holding.   For self insured entities, the statute of limitations is 3 years.

Judge Stein was blunt in saying: “I concur in the majority’s analysis and conclusion. However, I write separately to point out that, on this appeal, we do not resolve the question of whether insurance companies who issue contractual insurance policies covering no-fault claims are subject to a three- or six-year statute of limitations, as that question is not before us.”

The majority:

(1) “We previously have recognized the complex “nature of the statutory and regulatory scheme of the No-Fault Law” (id. at 505), characterizing it as a “Rube-Goldberg” like maze (Presbyterian Hosp. in City of N.Y. v Maryland Cas. Co., 90 NY2d 274, 286 [1997]). This matter is another illustration of the intricacy of that law.”

(2) “To the extent a registrant elects to forego insurance, the alternative form of financial security chosen (be it self-insurance under Vehicle and Traffic Law § 316 or the financial security bond referenced in § 312) must satisfy Insurance Law § 5103, which generally requires the payment of no-fault benefits (minimum amounts of which are specified in 11 NYCRR 65-1.1) and which applies its provisions to any contract for insurance that does not meet the demands of that article”

(3) “We conclude that the three-year statute of limitations as set forth in CPLR 214 (2), which governs disputes with respect to penalties created by statute, should control this case.”

(4) “The no-fault benefits in dispute are not provided by a contract with a private insurer. Instead defendant has met its statutory obligation by self-insuring. No-fault is a creature of statute ”

(5)”Our holding in Aetna Life Ins. Co. is directly applicable here. As we stated in that case, “first-party benefits are a form of compensation unknown at common law, resting on predicates independent of the fault or negligence of the injured party” (id. at 175). In the absence of private law requiring defendant to pay first-party benefits (that is, in the absence of a contract for insurance), the only requirement that defendant provide such remuneration to the assignee as a result of the accident appears in relevant [*2]parts of the Vehicle and Traffic Law and the Insurance Law. Consequently, the source of this claim is wholly statutory, meaning that the three-year period of limitations in CPLR 214 (2) should control this case”

(6) “Applying the three-year statute of limitations set forth in CPLR 214 (2) does not alter the substantive protections afforded under the no-fault law to those with a claim against a self-insurer.” (this was the part that some of the judge’s had a terrible time acknowledging)

I would like to read a bit into Judge Stein’s concurrence.  It appears that the next time this issue comes up, it may be a 3 year SOL across the board.  I think the people that really get hurt the most here are EIP’s with non-assigned claims that wait for their PI cases to resolve before addressing no-fault lien or wage issues.

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