Many people are aware that if they are injured in a situation involving a municipality they may sue for damages. These cases often involve the city, town or village in which you live or work. An example would be a case against the City of New York for an injury resulting from a trip and fall on a broken or defective sidewalk. Public authorities, sometimes referred to as municipal corporations, may include among others, The New York City Transit Authority and other municipal transit systems, The New York City Housing Authority, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and The New York City Board of Education.
What many people do not know is that there are very strict "notice of claim" requirements and deadlines for bringing a claim of this type. In many cases a notice of claim against a municipality or public authority must be served in writing, within 90 days of the event which causes your injury. These written notices of claim have to contain certain specific information to be valid and in most cases must be notarized. Failure to comply with these requirements may result in a legal bar to bringing an action in court for legal relief or damages. Even after the notice of claim requirements have been met, there are further statutory deadlines for the filing of a lawsuit which often differ from the deadlines for filing an action against a private entity. An example of this is the statute of limitations for filing an action alleging negligence against the City of New York. The law requires that not only must the 90 day notice of claim requirements be met, but any lawsuit based on that claim must be filed within one year and 90 days of the event which forms the basis of the action. A lawsuit alleging negligence against a private defendant in the State of New York may be filed within three years of the event which forms the basis of the action without any prior notice of claim.
The deadlines mentioned above may vary depending on who is bringing the claim. An example would be a situation where the claimant/plaintiff is an infant or a person under legal disability.
In order to know your rights and protect your own interests, if you believe you have a valid claim against a municipality or public authority, consult with a qualified attorney immediately. Failure to meet strict notice of claim requirements and statute of limitations deadlines may prevent you from bringing an otherwise valid claim. If you are injured in an accident on public property or in a situation involving publicly owned vehicles or instrumentalities, contact us for a consultation.
The information contained in this article is for general information purposes only and should not be relied upon to govern any legal situation you may currently be pursuing. Every case is fact specific. A consultation with a qualified attorney is necessary before any determination can be made as to what notice of claim requirements and statute of limitation deadlines apply to any given situation.