Suing A Public Entity In New Jersey

In New Jersey, there are very strict rules that must be followed if you are to maintain a case against a public entity. Pursuant to the New Jersey Tort Claims Act, with few exceptions, proper notice must be served on the public entity within ninety (90) days of the date of the incident in order to maintain a claim. What is considered proper notice has been the discussion of many judicial opinions. Most recently, the New Jersey Appellate Division, in the case of Lebron v. Camden City Board of Education, addressed some of these issues.

The Plaintiff, Dinesha Lebron, brought suit for damages resulting from injuries she sustained more than 10 years ago when she was an elementary school student. Notice was filed within 90 days of the date of the accident. Plaintiff finally filed a lawsuit within two years after her 18th birthday (an acceptable period of time pursuant to the statute of limitations for a personal injury claim in New Jersey).

In the litigation, plaintiff answered interrogatories in which she spelled out some facts that had not been described in the original Notice of Tort Claim. The defendant filed a motion for summary judgment, asserting plaintiff’s tort claims notice was defective because the general statements contained in the document failed to sufficiently advise the public entity of the theories of liability now asserted in plaintiff’s complaint. The motion judge agreed and dismissed plaintiff’s complaint.

Plaintiff appealed maintaining that her tort claims notice was sufficient. The Appellate Division ruled that plaintiff’s notice adequately afforded notice of her injury to the defendant in compliance with the act.

Plaintiff’s notice responded to the six items listed in N.J.S.A. 59:8-4. Plaintiff’s notice listed the minimal facts to be related to the defendant, that is, a general description of her injuries, damages and losses. The description provided in plaintiff’s notice gave the defendant “sufficient information to enable it promptly to evaluate its liability and potential exposure[.]”

If you have been injured due to the negligence of a public entity, it is imperative that you contact an experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney as soon as possible. There are strict time and notice requirements that must be met and waiting to contact an experienced New Jersey personal injury lawyer can mean the difference between having a case and not having one. Call the law office of Lependorf & Silverstein for your free consultation. We will protect your rights and see to it that you receive the compensation that you deserve.