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Personal Injury – Tort Claims Act And The 90-Day Deadline To Serve A Notice Of Claim

January 05, 2017

MICHAEL J. RANKIN reports a recent case where the Court granted Plaintiff’s request to file a Notice of Claim outside of the ninety (90) day filing requirement prescribed by the New Jersey Tort Claims Act (TCA). 

Generally, the TCA applies to tort actions against public entities (including State, any county, municipality, district, public authority, public agency and any other public subdivision or public body in the State) and their employees, and requires persons with claims against public entities and/or their employees to notice them of the claim within 90 days of accrual of such claims.  Failure to satisfy the notice requirement can result in an absolute bar to recovery against a public entity and its employees.   

In this case, Plaintiff was injured due to a slip and fall in an apartment owned by the Defendant. Upon learning the identity of the property owner, Plaintiff’s counsel attempted on numerous occasions to serve notice of the claim to the proper entity.  Upon being served with the Notice of Claim, Defendant informed Plaintiff’s counsel that the claim was barred because the notice had not been served within the TCA’s 90-day filing deadline.

Plaintiff filed with the Court a motion for leave to file a late Notice of Claim detailing the multiple service attempts. The Court granted Plaintiff’s motion, explaining that Plaintiff’s counsel acted with reasonable promptness to comply with the 90-day filing requirement, and sent the Notice of Claim to the City upon assumption that the Defendant was a city agency.  Despite such error, the Court found Plaintiff’s counsel would have been able to timely file a notice with the Defendant. In this case, the Plaintiff showed extraordinary circumstances to justify why the Notice of Claim was not served within the 90-day deadline prescribed by the TCA.  However, this case is a reminder on how important an immediate investigation is needed upon a potential tort claim to identify the liable party(ies) and whether a liable party is considered a public entity or employee under the TCA requiring the 90-day Notice of Claim to be filed.   

Please contact Michael J. Rankin if you have any questions or need any assistance in connection with this subject.