Tort Claims Notice Must Be Filed In 90 days
I just read a tragic story about the Estate of a high school senior, Alexa Strittmatter, whose family had a lawyer file a Tort Claims Notice of their potential to file a claim against The Vineland School Board. My first response to this story is how sorry that I am for the family of this young girl. Their pain must be unbearable. As a lawyer who has handled wrongful death cases in New Jersey, I have seen the suffering that families endure when a loved one passes, especially when a death could have been prevented. We are lawyers based in Jersey City who have handled many wrongful death car accident cases and truck accidents.
This story highlights the importance in filing a Tort Claims Notice on time. A person injured in an accident that involves a Town, State or County employee or property, has only 90 days to file a Tort Claims Notice, or their claims would be forever barred – regardless of how badly hurt they were, or how clearly negligent or to blame the government or its employee was in the happening of the accident. As a New Jersey lawyer, I would like everyone to know that this law applies statewide, regardless whether the accident occurred in Bayonne, Jersey City, North Bergen, Union City, Montclair, Kearny or Belleville. The rules apply on Kennedy Boulevard, on Route 440, on Broadway or Communipaw Avenue, and in high schools, like Bayonne High School, Ferris High School, Union City High School, cover New Jersey Transit buses and trains.
The Tort Claims Act covers every inch of our state. Simply put, if you are injured in any accident involving the government or its employees, you should hire an experienced lawyer to file this Notice right away. Turning back to the sad facts of this case, there seems to be some good evidence here about prior notice or discussions about the apparent dangers of having school age children walking in the dark at early morning winter hours to school. Further, if there was ice on the sidewalk forcing pedestrians into the streets that could make a landowner responsible. As educators and lawmakers, we’d like to think that they are being proactive in protecting kids. As any parent of a teenager will tell you, teens often take risks and don’t think about all the dangers they can encounter, so our leaders need to be hyper vigilant sometimes. However, cases against public entities for injuries caused by a dangerous condition can be very difficult cases.
Our legislature has passed a law that allows us to sue, but only for permanent injuries. Clearly a tragic death like this one qualifies. The backdrop of some cases can also be whether the government officials can use an “allocation of resources defense”. That is when a Town, say Bayonne, or Jersey City would say “we could not put a better pedestrian area in because we simply lacked the funds to do so. We spent our money instead on traffic lights, or in other areas.” The New Jersey Tort Claims Act Notice is filled with traps for the unwary or unrepresented. So, it’s best to hire an experienced lawyer or law firm for that type of case.