By Tanya Phillips
The New Jersey Tort Claims Act (Title 59) is the statute which details how to bring a personal injury claim against a public entity. Public entities do have special protections under this statute and you need to be aware of your rights. If you were injured as a result of a dangerous condition on public property or your injury was caused by the negligence of a public entity or public employee you must file a Notice of Tort Claim against the public entity.
You must file a Notice of Tort Claim against the public entity that you allege caused your injury within ninety days after the date of the accident. The form asks for information about the incident, injury, and treatment. It can be completed by the injured individual or his/her representative. Most public entities require you to complete their own form but the information requested is pretty much the same.
The completion of the Notice of Tort Claim provides information about the accident to the public entity so they can perform their own investigation. Completing this form is not the same as filing a lawsuit. However, completing the Notice of Tort Claim preserves your right to file a lawsuit in the future. In a personal injury action against a public entity, you must wait at least six months after the date you file the Notice of Tort Claim to file a lawsuit. In New Jersey, the statute of limitations in all personal injury actions is two years from the date of the accident. This time limitation applies to actions against public entities.
If you are not sure whether you are going to pursue a claim, you should still file the Notice of Tort Claim within ninety days after the accident. If you do not file the Notice of Tort Claim within ninety days, you may be forever
barred from bringing a claim against the public entity. There are limited circumstances to file a Notice of Tort Claim after the initial ninety days and permission to do so must be ordered by a judge. It is very important that you explore your options quickly after any incident involving a public entity.
If your injury occurs during the course of your employment with a public entity, you have a workers’ compensation claim and not a personal injury claim controlled by the Tort Claims Act.
The New Jersey Tort Claims Act limits recovery for pain and suffering to cases in which the injured individual proves by a preponderance (greater weight) of the evidence that they have sustained a permanent loss of bodily function, permanent disfigurement or dismemberment. Additionally, the medical expenses incurred as a result of the injury must be greater than $3,600.
You must prove the permanent injury by objective credible medical evidence. This can normally be accomplished by using positive diagnostic test results such as MRI and/or EMG reports. This standard makes it difficult to recover damages for pain and suffering against public entities. Each potential claim must be evaluated on a case by case basis.
Recovery for temporary injuries is not permitted. When injuries are not severe enough to collect damages for pain and suffering the public entity is still responsible for actual economic damages incurred by the injured individual. This article summarizes the strict time limits and proof requirements of the New Jersey Tort Claims Act for bringing a personal injury claim against a public entity. If you were injured as a result of a dangerous condition on public property or the negligence of a public entity or public employee, you should consult with an attorney immediately. If you do not complete and file the appropriate notice, you may lose your right to file a lawsuit and recover damages for your injuries. We would be more than happy to investigate your claim and answer your questions.
If you have any questions about legal concerns, I encourage you to visit our website at www.gaylordpopp.com, or email me directly at email@example.com or call 609-362-6193.