Q: Are there special rules in slip & fall and trip & fall lawsuitswhen you are suing government entities in New Jersey?
In New Jersey, there is what is known as the Tort Claims Act. It is Title 59 of New Jersey statutes. It is essentially the law that defines how one can bring claims against governmental entities, which include municipalities or any other government entity with the State.
There is a requirement under the Tort Claims Act, that within 90 days of suffering an injury as a result of what you believe to be the fault of a governmental entity, you put that governmental entity on notice that you have a potential claim. You must file the Tort Claims Notice within 90 days of the date that you knew or should have known you suffered an injury that may be the result in some kind of negligence of a governmental entity. It is an absolute requirement. There are very few exceptions and you should talk with an experienced slip & fall and trip & fall attorney about exceptions that may apply.
An injured slip & fall or trip & fall victim would contact these entities and fill out the appropriate forms within 90 days of the incident. Once the Tort Claims Notice is filed, slip & fall or trip & fall victim must wait six months.
The reason for the delay is that with a governmental entity, you have to give them an opportunity to investigate the claims that are contained within the Tort Claims Notice. They may contact you during that time period to try and resolve the claim, or they may not. You may not be able to come to an agreement regarding the value of the claim or the liability issues on a claim. Once the six months is up, you can start a lawsuit.
A lawsuit does not mean the governmental entity is automatically legally responsible for the slip & fall or trip & fall accident. Under Title 59, not only do you have filing requirements, but there are also a number of immunities that government entities and their employees enjoy. That includes snow and ice removal.
In claims against governmental entities pursuant to Title 59, it’s important that you hire experienced slip & fall and trip & fall attorneys who are familiar with claims against governmental entities and understand Title 59 claims.
N.J.S.A. 59: 1-1 et see