On occasion people are injured as a result of the negligence of a governmental body such as the State, County, local Municipality or their employees. In New Jersey  these negligence claims are subject to a very specific set of laws contained in Title 59 “Claims Against Public Entities” and is known as the “Tort Claims Act” which must be followed and satisfied. These laws cover among other things; the time limitations in which the claim must be filed, the types of negligence that can be claimed, and the type of damage and/or injury required. If this ever happens to you it is imperative to contact an expert attorney experienced in handling these difficult cases immediately.

As discussed above there are very important time limitations which you must be aware of in order to pursue a claim. As most people know there is something called the Statute of Limitations which requires all types of claims to be filed within a certain time period after the incident happens. Generally in New Jersey the statute of limitations for most personal injury or negligence claims is two years. But when the potential negligent or responsible party is a public entity or governmental body as described above there are additional time requirements which must be satisfied.

Pursuant to New Jersey Statute 59:8-8 “A claim relating to a cause of action for death or for injury or damage to a person or to property shall be presented as provided in this chapter not later than the ninetieth day after accrual of the cause of action. The claimant shall be forever barred from recovering against a public entity or public employee if: (a.) He failed to file his claim with the public entity within 90 days of accrual of his claim …” In essence the law provides that whenever you want to pursue a claim against a public entity you must file what is called a Tort Claim Notice within 90 days or be forever barred from pursuing that claim. There are limited exceptions to this rule but they can rarely be satisfied.

This law makes it imperative when you are injured by the negligence of a public entity to act promptly and without delay in making that claim. That fall in a pothole in the road, trip on the sidewalk, or motor vehicle accident with the town tax assessor may seem innocent enough, but you must notify the public entity involved of even the potential of a claim. Any delay could be the difference between a valid right to pursue a valuable claim and being barred forever from receiving compensation for your injuries caused by their negligence.

Mike Foster is a Shareholder in Stark & Stark’s Marlton, New Jersey office, concentrating in Accident & Personal Injury Law. For more information, please contact Mr. Foster.