By Cary Greenberg
Whenever you are injured in any manner, by the actions of the State, County, Town, Village or any other governmental entity, department or agency, you must file a Notice of Claim within ninety (90) days of the date of incident which caused your injury. For example, if you are injured as a result of a pothole in the roadway or a broken sidewalk, or a collapsing sign, you must file a Notice of Claim with the governmental entity that is responsible for maintaining those particular areas. Please keep in mind that it is not only the State, County, Town and Villages that require Notice of Claims, but so do their individual departments as well. As such, if you are injured as a result of the actions of a school district, that school district requires a Notice of Claim. Similarly, if you are injured as a result of the actions of a fire department, police department, water department, building department, etc. they also all require a Notice of Claim. If you are unsure as to whether or not the party responsible for your accident and injuries requires a Notice of Claim, please contact an attorney.
The reason the Notice of Claim is so important is that it is a prerequisite before you can actually file a Summons & Complaint against that particular governmental agency. This Notice of Claim document describes the date, time and location of the accident. It also describes in detail how the accident occurred, your injuries sustained from this accident and how the governmental entity is responsible for the accident and resultant injuries. The information contained in the Notice of Claim allows the governmental entity to conduct an early investigation into your accident. In fact, as part of this investigation you may be (not always) required to testify at a hearing about the facts surrounding your accident, your injuries, medical treatment received for your injuries and any limitations you may have from said injuries. If you fail to file this Notice of Claim or submit it more than ninety (90) days after the incident, your claim may be denied in its entirety for being untimely. However, the late filing of a Notice of Claim is not always fatal because an attorney can make a motion to the Court requesting the governmental agency accept your late Notice of Claim as long as the Statute of Limitations has not expired. Unfortunately, oftentimes the Courts reject your application to file a late Notice of Claim, thus, to avoid any risk of failing to comply with the ninety (90) day Statute of Limitations, it is strongly recommended that you see an attorney immediately following your accident, if possible. I hope you never have an accident. However, if you do, be smart, protect yourself and see an attorney to make sure that all proper procedures are followed.