Lawsuits Against Cities, Towns, Counties and New York State

Lawsuits against government agencies can be very tricky due to the time limits set forth in various statutes. Only an experienced law firm, like Norman M. Block, P.C., can guide you through the maze of requirements to bring such a suit.

Lawsuits against the State of New York and its agencies must be brought in the New York Court of Claims. A Claim, or a Notice of Intention to File a Claim, must be filed and served within 90 days after the accident occurs. The time period can be extended under circumstances set forth in the Court of Claims Act. However, it cannot be extended more than 2 years after the accident, unless the injured party is a child or has been declared incompetent by a Court. Failure to timely file a Claim or a Notice of Intention can result in your lawsuit being dismissed.

Lawsuits against other governmental bodies, such as cities, counties and towns, are governed by the General Municipal Law, and require serving a Notice of Claim within 90 days after the accident. Again, this period of time can be extended if the injured party can show that the government body had knowledge of the facts of the claim within the 90 day period. A lawsuit must be brought within one year 90 days after the accident occurred, unless the injured party is a child or an incompetent.

There are many entities which don’t seem like governmental bodies, but suits against them are governed by the general municipal law. For example, in Westchester County, the buses are operated by Liberty Lines, a private company, under contract with Westchester County. A notice of claim must be filed with Westchester County, or the case will be dismissed.

In addition to the time requirements, there are many other obstacles to suing governments. For example, to sue because of a fall in a street or sidewalk, most municipalities require prior WRITTEN notice of that defect in order to be held liable. Unless the municipality actually created the defect, a suit will be lost unless there is prior written notice.

Qualified immunity is also an obstacle. Governmental bodies may be immune from suit for decisions made with some degree of study and planning. For example, if a roadway is defectively designed, a municipality may be immune from suit if the design is based on a sufficiently rigorous study or plan.

It is obvious that you need to consult an experienced law firm to handle these cases. Norman M. Block, P.C. has over 25 years of experience bringing cases against the State and other governmental bodies. We will prepare the Notice of Claim and serve it on the appropriate person. We will represent you at the hearing where an attorney or someone else from the government gets to ask you about the facts of your case and your injuries. We will attempt to negotiate and then bring suit if the negotiations are not successful We will aggressively represent you every step of the way. Contact the law offices of Norman M. Block, P.C. to help you with your case against a government or governmental agency.