Did you know that you are not allowed to file a personal injury claim against a City or a School District unless you first serve a notice of claim?

Before you can file a personal injury claim against a public corporation, you must first serve a notice of claim. A public corporation includes, among other entities, a City, County, Town, Village, Fire District, and School District. A notice of claim must ordinarily be served within 90 days after the claim arises. The claim arises on the date the accident occurs. Of course, there are exceptions to this general rule. For example, a notice of claim in a wrongful death action must be served within 90 days of the date of the appointment of a representative of the decedent’s estate.

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The purpose of the notice of claim is to enable the public corporation to investigate and gather evidence while the claim is still fresh. The notice of claim must be in writing, sworn to by or on behalf of the claimant, and must set forth: (1) the name and post-office address of each claimant, and of his or her attorney, if any; (2) the nature of the claim; (3) the time when, the place where and the manner in which the claim arose; and (4) the items of damage or injuries claimed to have been sustained so far as then practicable.

A notice of claim must be served personally or by registered/certified mail on an individual that is designated by law to accept service. For example, if the notice claim is against a School District, one of the proper individuals that may accept service is a school officer. A school officer is defined in the Education Law Section 2.13.

If a notice of claim is not served within 90 days from the date the claim arises, it is possible to make an application to the court for leave to file a late notice of claim. However, this application must be made within 1 year and 90 days from the date of the incident and there is no guarantee that the court will grant your application.

As you can see, the rules are extremely complicated and it is strongly recommended that you consult an attorney. Furthermore, since there are so many exceptions and pitfalls, this blog should not be solely relied upon to serve a notice of claim against a public corporation.