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Filing Tort Cases in the New York State Courts Electronic Filing System (NYSCEF)

It is impossible to deny that e-filing is becoming exponentially more prevalent in the lives of New York tort attorneys. Westchester County is a mandatory e-filing court for tort cases as of March 1, 2011 and some judges are calling for it in all city courts. For those who have not delved in, here are a few things to consider about the New York State e-filing system.

Payment of court fees can be done by credit card and the system gives prompt updates via e-mail. That means not having to make the trip to court and not waiting for or paying for service to bring documents to and from court.

It can be a bit worrisome to fill out a form when you do not know what comes next. There is a training system to practice on before you go “live” with your e-filing. It is supposed to look just like the real system to allow you to get accumstomed to what to expect before you make a mistake. There is also a detailed user manual with pictures of portions of the website at different stages of filing.

Service is deemed complete when the e-mail confirmation of a filing is sent to the user who submitted the filing as well as the other users who have consented to e-filing in the case. An affidavit of service does not need to be filed.

Documents can be viewed electronically. If you are at your office, you do not have to find and rifle through a voluminous file. If you are out of your office but have an electronic device such as an ipad, you can view documents within seconds.

In many cases, you do not have to file or serve a hard copy. This saves time, money, ink, and paper.

Documents can be filed when the courts are closed, in fact, they can be filed at any time of the day or night. Some court rules provide that a document is considered to have been timely filed if it was filed by midnight of the due date.

It takes time to learn all of the rules of e-filing, just like anything else, but e-filing offers benefits that the traditional method cannot compete with. It is not perfect, of course, so there are plenty of rules for when the system fails. Entries on the federal system and errors in the state system to follow.

Resources: New York State Courts Website

Thomson Reuters News and Insight, Judge calls for legislation to mandate e-filing in NY courts, Jennifer Golson, 06.07.2011.