The Notice of Claim is a document that New York law requires be drafted and served as a condition that must be met prior to filing a lawsuit for injuries you may have sustained against a municipal or City entity. By way of further example, if you were to sustain injuries upon a New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) property, due to the negligence or malfeasance of NYCHA, you would have to file a Notice of Claim with the City Law Department, 100 Church Street, Manhattan NY within ninety (90) days of the Incident that caused your injury in order to preserve your right to bring state law claims against the City of New York.
The purpose of a “Notice of Claim” is to do exactly what its name suggests – give prior written notice to a governmental agency, before commencing litigation, that the governmental body may be subject to a claim for damages. At bottom, the purpose of the Notice of Claim requirement is to timely advise municipal entities of potential claims and allow them a sufficient opportunity to look into the circumstances and worth of your claim while witnesses, documents, and other information is still readily available for their consideration and investigation.
New York has a host of governmental and quasi-governmental entities which at times are referred to as “public corporations.” In addition to familiar municipal subdivisions, such as counties, cities, towns, and villages, there are also housing agencies, school districts, fire districts, water and sewer districts, and a variety of public benefit corporations. While each of these entities are governed by different statutes, they all, more often than not, necessitate the service of a Notice of Claim as a condition precedent to later filing a lawsuit for monetary damages.
When a Notice of Claim is mandated to be properly served by law, General Municipal Law § 50-e addresses the content, service, and time limitations associated with said Notices “in any case founded upon tort.” A tort is a civil wrongdoing, as opposed to a criminal wrongdoing, which causes injury or damage to another individual, and can either be unintentional (negligence) or intentional (defamation, assault) in nature. A Notice of Claim must be written, so placing a phone call is insufficient, and the truth of its contents must be sworn to by the Claimant. The Notice of Claim must also be dated and should be notarized as well. And although there is no particular form necessary, the Notice of Claim has to include the following information: (a) the name and address of the Claimant and his or her attorney, if any; (b) the nature of the Claim; (c) the time when, the place where, and the manner in which the Claim arose; and (d) the items of damage or injuries claimed to have been sustained so far as then known.
Once completed, the Notice of Claim must be served on the public corporation, either by personal delivery or by registered or certified mail. Attorneys will often time have their process server serve this document have it time stamped – that is just how critical the timely filing of this document really is! The Notice of Claim cannot just be delivered or mailed to whoever you wish, however – the General Municipal Law requires that it be delivered or mailed to a person “designated by law” to receive service on behalf of the public corporation. The person or persons in that position may vary by entity, so it is important to verify that the notice is provided to the correct individual.
The law provides for only a relatively short period of time to serve a Notice of Claim. Pursuant to General Municipal Law §50-e, a Notice of Claim founded upon tort must be served within ninety (90) days after the Claim arises. If a valid Notice of Claim is not properly served within that (90) ninety day period, the Claimant may be forbidden from bringing a lawsuit and, as a result, any claim they may have had may be permanently extinguished.
If you are injured as the result of a City agency's malfeasance, misfeasance or non-feasance contact the law offices of Michael J. Redenburg, Esq. PC. With Fifteen years of litigation experience – We Will Fight For YOU!