Municipal liability encompasses a wide range of personal injury cases against villages, towns, and cities throughout New York State. Examples include automobile accidents with city employees such as police officers, sanitation workers, and transportation workers; or the accident could involve trip and falls over defective sidewalks or injury due to a failure to remove snow and ice from city owned property. There could be a malpractice action against a city owned hospital for failure to diagnose cancer, operating on an incorrect area of the body, or misdiagnosis of a medical condition. Police officers must act in accordance with the law, and there are cases of excessive force, unlawful arrest, false imprisonment, assault and battery and deprivation of civil liberties under the New York State and United States Constitution.
It is critical that you retain attorneys who have the requisite knowledge, skill, background and experience to be successful in a municipal liability case. There are many differences between a case against a town or village on the one hand, and a private defendant, which are traps for the unwary and those who do not regularly represent clients in municipal liability cases. For example, in all cases against municipalities, there is a notice of claim requirement, (which is not required in cases against private individuals) which mandates that a notice of claim be properly filed with the town, village, city or other municipal corporation within 90 days of the incident. Not only is there a notice of claim requirement in this very short period of time, but if the notice is not proper in form, is not filed with the correct entities, or does not name the specific departments or individuals that are potentially liable, your case could be jeopardized or dismissed.
In a large percentage of jurisdictions in New York, there is a law known as the “prior written notice” statute. This is a law which requires that in any case for personal injury against that particular village, town or city, in order for the claimant to have a legal basis for that case, there must be written proof to the municipality before the accident that there was a defect which needed to be repaired. If there is no prior written notice in the way of a letter, e-mail, note or some other form of writing prior to the accident that, for example, the sidewalk on a particular street owned by the city or town needs to be repaired, there is no legal basis for the case and it will be dismissed. (One exception is if it can be proven that the municipality created the defect and therefore should have known about the problem before the accident). Obviously, this is a very unfair statute, in that generally speaking, when someone is in an accident, they do not know about the crack in the sidewalk or the icy stairs that they are about to confront. Nonetheless, the prior written notice law is obviously a statute which protects municipalities from a substantial volume of cases, despite how bad the danger is and how seriously the claimant has been injured.
Additionally, the amount of time within which you have to sue a municipality after an accident is significantly shorter than the amount of time to sue a private person, and even within the field of municipal liability cases, there are variations and reduced statute of limitations which significantly restrict the time in which you can bring a claim. For these reasons, you need lawyers who are fully familiar and experienced in the complexities and details of municipal liability. The Municipal Liability Attorneys at The Law Office Of Mark A. Siesel have that required experience and knowledge to represent you to achieve the maximum possible compensation for your injuries, lost earnings, medical and hospital expenses, and loss of enjoyment of life. Please contact us online or call at (914) 428-7386 for your free initial consultation.