how to hold nyc liable pi

In New York, you have the right to file a personal injury compensation claim if you suffer injuries in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, irrespective of whether the negligent party is a private or public entity. However, while you can hold a public entity liable for the injuries, the procedure to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against such an entity can prove to be arduous and complicated.

New York state, city, and municipal agencies oversee several public entities like the police department, the prisons, the sanitation department, etc. Correlating with this, the city is responsible for the maintenance of government buildings, roads, sidewalks, bridges, and parks. Although it is the government’s responsibility to maintain a safe environment for the residents and visitors, frequent incidents leading to accidents and resultant injuries are commonplace.

If you are a victim of an accident resulting in a personal injury due to negligence, lack of maintenance of public spaces, any acts by government employees, or medical malpractice; you will need an experienced New York City personal injury attorney to help you claim adequate and fair compensation.

Filing a Personal Injury Lawsuit against the Government in New York

Article II, Section 8 of the New York Court of Claims Act covers personal injury claims against public entities in New York. The act stipulates the withdrawal of the government’s immunity and sanctions its prosecution under the same rules that apply to private entities.

Previously, an old law dating back to medieval England prohibited individuals from suing the sovereign for any wrongs, providing sovereign immunity to the king. Section 8 waives the government’s immunity, and a personal injury victim can now file a lawsuit against the New York City or state, just as they would against a private individual or entity.

Notice of Claim

Firstly, you need to file a notice of claim with the relevant entity within 90 days of the accident. This paves the way for the subsequent filing of a personal injury or property damage lawsuit against a public entity or its employee in New York.

In the case of a wrongful death lawsuit, the stipulated period of 90 days begins when the deceased’s estate appoints a personal representative.

Essentials for a Notice of Claim in New York

1)   You must file a Notice of Claim in writing and duly signed before a notary public. The special notice must have the following information:

  • The claimant’s name and address
  • Contact details of the claimant’s attorney
  • The nature of the claim
  • The time and place of the accident
  • The nature and extent of the injuries or damages

2)   Additionally, you must ensure serving of the notice to an authorized person at the public entity or their attorney, either by personal delivery, certified mail, or registered mail. The court may dismiss the case or bar the claim if you fail to meet the prerequisites for serving the notice of claim.

3)   After your attorney serves the notice, the law allows the government 30 days to scrutinize the facts of the claim before you can file a lawsuit. You are legally bound to include statements pertaining to serving of a notice of claim and the subsequent expiry of the 30-day period while initiating your lawsuit.

4)   Subsequently, the government conducts an internal inquiry into the claim and the related injuries or damages sustained by the claimant. The two major elements of the government’s inquiry into the incident are:

  • An oral deposition where the claimant must answer questions by government attorneys under oath, while a stenographer records and transcribes the answers.
  • Additionally, the government may ask the claimant to go through a medical assessment by a physician chosen by the public entity.

You Must Engage a NY Personal Injury Lawyer at the Earliest

The special stipulations under the municipal liability law, place restrictions on your right to file a lawsuit against the public entities and their employees, unless you file a Notice of Claim promptly after the accident.

The stipulated time for filing a suit after the special notice is also quite short. Bear in mind that you may lose the right to file a personal injury claim if there is a delay in any one of these steps.

Our personal injury attorneys at Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff, and Wolff, LLP, have four generations of experience to represent injured New Yorkers in personal injury lawsuits against the City and State of New York. Our ample understanding of and familiarity with the time requirements in such cases equips us to move swiftly to protect your rights.

When Can You File a Claim Under NY Court of Claims Act?

Given below are some instances where you can bring a personal injury claim against the negligence of the city or state of New York, or any public entity, agency, or commission.

Car Accidents Involving Public Employees Driving State Vehicles

Police officers, fire engine operators, drivers of sanitation trucks, or other municipal motor vehicles are under obligation to follow the rules of the road and for the safe operation of their vehicles, just as any other driver on the road. If a state employee, while on state duty, causes injuries to someone in a car accident due to negligence on their part, the victim can hold the driver liable in the Court of Claims.

Defects in Public Property

An individual injured due to defects in public property, such as missing handrails, broken flooring, defective lightbulbs; can seek damages for such injuries if the public employees do not repair the defect or warn patrons about it. 

Negligence in Medical Care or Treatment

Patients in a state-run facility can claim compensation for injuries due to any medical negligence on the part of the staff at the facility. The doctors, nurses, and interns in these facilities are all government employees and an individual can seek compensation for the medical negligence or malpractice on their part.

Damaged and Hazardous Sidewalks and Streets

An accident victim can seek compensation under the municipal liability law if faulty street openings, cracked sidewalks, potholes, or other similar conditions are the cause of their injuries. 

Negligence or Misconduct by the Police 

There can be unfortunate instances where a police officer might misuse authority or cause injuries due to negligence while carrying out their duties. In other cases, an individual may be wrongfully confined or injured because of police misconduct. The victim’s personal injury attorney can help in getting the police conduct reviewed, using professional police resources, and assist the victim in seeking rightful compensation for their injuries and trauma. 

Negligence and Safety Hazards in Schools

Under municipal liability law, any injuries sustained in the school premises are the responsibility of the New York City Board of Education and school districts. The school is liable for injuries or damages due to defective equipment, improper maintenance, or negligence of the staff and teachers. 

Negligence by the Housing Authority in New York 

The municipal bodies in a city are at par with a property owner while operating housing projects or apartments. The responsibility for maintenance of the housing project, including repairs inside the apartments, lies with the housing authority.

If the housing authority fails in its responsibility to maintain and repair the housing projects, and the negligence causes personal injury, they are liable for compensation and damages in a court of law.

Proof of Negligence by the State 

The plaintiff needs to prove the public entity’s negligence or misconduct to be able to hold them liable for compensation in court. Typically, this entails demonstrating that:

  • the state had a duty towards the claimant of providing reasonable care
  • the state failed to fulfill that duty
  • the state’s failure to fulfill its duty caused injuries to the claimant
  • the injuries resulted in damages like medical expenses, pain and suffering, and lost wages, that require financial compensation

A claimant must file any or all claims against government agencies in the state of New York in the Court of Claims. The act specifies special provisions for damages filed against the military or its members, and for jailed convicts filing cases against unjust imprisonment.

Seeking Compensation from the Municipal Government of New York

For a long time, it was not possible for victims to seek claims against New York municipal governments, as courts generally frowned upon such claims. A New York Court of Appeals ruling in 2011 allowed individuals to file lawsuits against municipal agencies if they could show the municipal body’s special duty towards the affected person, and prove that at least one of these three things happened:

  • the injured person belonged to a particular protected class of persons, and the municipal entity or its employee breached their duty to protect them
  • the municipal entity or its employee ignored a known and blatant safety violation
  • the municipal entity or its employee undertook a voluntary responsibility with promises to the victim who relied on those promises

Choose Competent and Proficient NYC Personal Injury Attorneys 

Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff LLP are among one of the first and one of the best firms for personal injury litigation in New York. Our compassionate and experienced personal injury attorneys understand the overwhelming pain, suffering, and trauma caused by serious personal injury.  

Collectively, our lawyers have taken hundreds of injury claims to trial and we retain the services of professionals in such varied fields as accident reconstruction, forensic pathology, and other disciplines, to help you prove liability and claim your rightful compensation. Call Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP today at 1-800-660-2264 or contact us online. for a free case evaluation of your serious injury caused by the city or state of New York.


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