What Is A Notice of Claim?

Suppose you slip on an icy subway platform or the stairwell of a housing authority building or are assaulted on public school property when there should have been a security officer present but one was nowhere to be found. All of these can form the basis of a claim for damages, but in these examples, the responsible party is a public authority or the City of New York itself. While this does not preclude your claim, it adds additional procedural hurdles that need to be cleared before a lawsuit can be filed. The first of these hurdles is the Notice of Claim. It is a relatively simple document which your attorney will prepare, but it is subject to a short deadline which, if missed, can be very difficult to overcome and can render moot an otherwise valid claim. While the normal statute of limitations in a personal injury action based on negligence (as opposed to medical malpractice or an intentional act such as an assault) is 3 years from the date of the incident, a Notice of Claim must be filed and served within 90 days. The purpose of this shortened time period is to permit a timely investigation of the claim, but the practical effect on claimants is that many otherwise valid claims are barred before they can even begin. In every case, time is of the essence, but it is particularly critical in cases against public entities, such as the MTA, NYCHA, and the City of New York, to name a few.