January 19, 2017

Act Quickly: The New Jersey Tort Claims Act Limits Claims to within 90 Days of Incident

 Have you ever heard the phrase, “You can’t fight City Hall”?  Though that may be true in certain circumstances, it is not the case when it comes to filing a lawsuit if you’ve suffered an injury as a result of the actions (or inactions) of a government entity or employee. However, it is important that you act quickly: the New Jersey Tort Claims Act limits the filing of claims to within ninety days of the incident, and if you fail to get your paperwork in by that amount of time, you will lose your right to file a lawsuit.

Though this rule may seem like it is designed to make things difficult for citizens to hold the government responsible for wrong acts, it simply means that it is necessary to file a claim under the specific requirements that have been put in place. These include:

  • Include name and address of the person making the claim
  • Include the address to which notices should be sent regarding the claim
  • Provide the specifics of the incident giving rise to the claim, including the date, location and other details
  • Provide a general description of the damages, loss, or injury that were suffered
  • If it is known, provide the specific name or names of the employee, employees, or entity that caused the damages, loss or injury
  • Provide the estimated amount being claimed as much as it is known, including the basis for the calculation of the amount

The claim needs to be signed by the claimant or their representative – usually an attorney – and needs to be submitted to either the Attorney General of the department or agency that is named as being the responsible party.

If you do not get your claim in within 90 days of the incident, there are exceptions allowed but they can be difficult and complex, and require proof of extraordinary circumstances that prevented the claim from being filed in a timely manner. The lawsuit that correlates to the claim must be filed within two years.

It is also important to know that there are certain situations in which the government or public entity or employee is provided with immunity against such a claim. Though these include the “good faith exercise of judgment and discretion in the performance of his duties”, the Tort Claims Act specifically does not exonerate public employees whose conduct is considered to be “outgeous”, “willful”, or “reckless”.

Pursuing a legal claim against a public entity is a challenging proposition, and requires representation from an attorney who has both expertise and experience in both preparing for and arguing such a case. At the New Jersey law firm of Brown & Connery, LLP, we have a long and distinguished record of providing our clients with integrity and wisdom. For assistance with your case, contact us today.