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Bringing a personal injury claim against the government

All kinds of injuries occur on public property. People trip on defective sidewalks, vehicles collide when traffic lights malfunction, and pedestrians stumble into excavation sites that are poorly marked, especially at night. In these cases, the agency responsible for maintaining the sidewalks or traffic signals should be held legally responsible, and they can be, under certain conditions.

If you are hurt on New York government property, then the process of bringing a personal injury claim is different than filing a lawsuit against a private person or business. Claims against the government fall under the New York Court of Claims Act, which allows you to sue the state for nearly anything that could arguably be negligence. Examples include:

  • Dangerous defects in public buildings. If you are in a public building and trip on broken floor tiles, lose your balance due to an unsteady handrail, or fall over an object because the lights haven’t worked in years, then you may be able to sue for any injuries if the state employees should reasonably have known about the condition(s) and warned visitors accordingly.
  • Medical malpractice. If substandard or negligent medical care in a state-run hospital or clinic causes you to be injured, then you can sue for compensation the same as you would if the facility was privately owned.
  • Motor vehicle accidents. If you are injured by a state employee while he or she was driving on state business, then you can sue for damages.

All claims against New York state or any part of its government must be filed in the Court of Claims.

Local government

At one time, injured parties could not file claims against New York municipal governments, but in 2011 the Court of Appeals declared that people could sue these governments for their injuries if they could prove that the municipality had a “special duty” to them. Three circumstances qualified as special duty violations:

  1. The municipality or one of its employees had a statutory obligation to protect a certain class of people, failed to do so, and the victim was in that class.
  2. The municipality or one of its employees were directly responsible for a known and clearly dangerous safety violation
  3. The municipality or one of its employees voluntarily assumed a duty and the injured person relied on their promises or actions.

You have up to 90 days to file a personal injury claim in the New York Court of Claims.

If you have been injured on state or government property, then contact a New York personal injury attorney who understands state and municipal liability law and the particular rules that accompany the process of suing the government or its employees. Even after you file a Notice of Claim, you must act within a certain period to commence the lawsuit. Your attorney will advise you on your rights and ensure that you do not jeopardize your right to sue.

Jayson Lutzky is a New York personal injury attorney. He has recovered millions of dollars for his past clients in motor vehicle accident, medical malpractice and building accident cases. If you were injured, then you may be able to obtain compensation for your injuries. Call 718-329-9500 to set up a free, initial in-person consultation with Mr. Lutzky and visit www.MyNewYorkCityLawyer.com to learn more.

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