Any number of accidents might end up in a lawsuit against a municipality–perhaps the very city, town or village where you live. BEWARE! Rules that apply to such cases, or lawsuits involving many governmental agencies such as public hospitals and transportation systems, schools and government owned utilities, have strict special requirements that do not apply in other cases. To ignore those rules is very likely to prevent you from bringing a lawsuit no matter how meritorious or serious your case!
In New York, as in most jurisdictions, governmental entities are entitled to written notice of the details of an accident within 90 days of the incident. The document that contains these details is called a “NOTICE OF CLAIM“. Fail to PROPERLY file a “NOTICE OF CLAIM“, and your lawsuit is over before it begins ! Very sad, very harsh, but there are very few exceptions (for which a skilled attorney knowledgeable in such matters should be consulted). Slip and fall in a municipal building, get hit by a city bus, claim a false arrest or suffer an injury in a county hospital and you MUST file a “NOTICE OF CLAIM” in New York within the required time period or you forfeit your right to bring a lawsuit against the appropriate municipal entity.
Where do you file the “NOTICE OF CLAIM”?
NOT in just any city office. It MUST be in the office designated by the particular entity to be sued. Each entity will designate a place and a simple call to that entity will give you the location to file.
What do you put into your “NOTICE OF CLAIM”?
All such “Notices of Claim” should state the date, time and precise location of the occurrence. It should also contain a BRIEF description of what happened and list any injury that was incurred.
Good news: City agencies and governmental entities are very helpful to the public and will not only tell you where to file a Notice of Claim but will often send you a form to use. If you want to you can also buy a standard Notice of Claim form in any legal stationery store which can always be found in the neighborhood near a courthouse or on the Internet.
IMPORTANT SUGGESTION: If you are uncertain whether you will file a lawsuit, err on the side of caution. File a Notice of Claim! It costs you nothing but a few minutes of your time. Fail to file a Notice of Claim and then decide you want to sue after the 90 day period–in almost every case, forget about it. (For the rare exceptions, as we said before, a skilled and knowledgeable New York City Personal Injury lawyer should be consulted). Notices of Claims should ALWAYS be notarized!
Posted by New York Personal Injury Lawyer Steve Orlow