In New Jersey, people who are injured on a public entity need to know that it is important to consult with a lawyer as soon as possible.
First off, a public entity is any of the following: New Jersey Transit, the Port Authority, a city, town, county, the State of New Jersey, a subdivision such as a Board of Education, the trash removal service that a town may run, a recreational facility, a school, sidewalk, or anything else that has to do with the government.
Davis, Saperstein & Salomon P.C., sees many cases involving public entities – fall downs due to poor maintenance, crashes and injuries on buses and trains, and so on. Each case varies, but there is a certain timeframe that MUST be followed.
- A person MUST file a special claim within 90 days of the incident in question on special forms called TORT claims notices. See a lawyer immediately and have them file these papers. This is extremely crucial, because even if a person has a very serious and legitimate case, if proper notice is not filed on time, the case will be dismissed. With few exceptions, the courts do not care about the reasons why someone was not able to comply. After the initial filing, if the town or entity sends back their own forms, they must be completed and sent in immediately as well. This is a prerequisite to being able to file a claim. Afterwards, a suit cannot be filed for 6 months to allow time for an investigation.
- Secondly, a person needs to find out whether they are even able to open a claim, which is why it is so crucial to contact a highly experienced personal injury attorney. Tell them absolutely everything: all the facts, events, injuries and pain. They will be able to advise whether or not to begin the claims process. Many consultations are free and do not require any commitment. Most lawyers are happy just to assist and guide people.
The law involving public entities is so complicated that there is a 650 some odd page book written on it. The statute 59:9-2 reads as follows:
Paragraph D: No damages shall be awarded against a public entity or public employee for pain and suffering resulting from any injury; provided, however, that this limitation on the recovery of damages for pain and suffering shall not apply in cases of permanent loss of a bodily function…
So, what a ‘permanent loss of bodily function’ means – it is a “term of art” used by a lawyer. It can be a wide array of injures, including a herniated disc, a neck, knee, or shoulder injury, among others. It is complicated, but it’s a key word in this Statute. It continues:
…Permanent disfigurement or dismemberment where the medical treatment expenses are in excess of $3,600.00.
It’s important to note that even if a claim does not have $3,600 in medical expenses, the treatment can extend beyond claim filing. It is wise to file this notice of claim immediately upon the injury itself.
Now, the advice given above is a little different if it involves the Port Authority of New Jersey and New York, because they have a different Statute of Limitations. Unlike NJ Transit or a municipality, which has a two year statute of limitations, the Port Authority has a one year statute. That means a lawsuit MUST be filed within one year. They are also subject to notice requirements in writing. Davis, Saperstein & Salomon P.C.’s advice to anyone who is injured because of the negligence of any municipality or its employees, as well as the Port Authority is – DO NOT WAIT. Speak to a lawyer immediately. They will explain what to do, or they will complete the forms and file with the public entity.
Partner, Garry R. Salomon, Esq. wrote a book called The Consumer’s Guide to New Jersey Personal Injury Claims, which has extensive information and answers many questions. You can request a free copy anytime by calling 1-800-LAW-2000 or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, and our office will gladly send it out to you.