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Late Notice Allowed in Claim Against City

In a typical personal injury action, you have up to three years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit against the negligent defendant. Once this statute of limitations passes, you can be prevented from ever filing suit against the defendant and recovering compensation for the damages caused to you. When the defendant is a governmental entity, such as a municipality or police department, the time frame is much shorter. If you do not file a notice of claim within 90 days, your claim may be barred from being heard.

In the case of Kalwiss v. NYC, a New York City firefighter was burned because the fire safety gloves he was issued by the City were defective. The firefighter did not know about the 90 day time limit and did not file the notice of claim in a timely fashion. Fortunately, there are situations when a plaintiff may be allowed to file a late notice. These situations include times when:

  • The plaintiff has a reasonable excuse
  • The plaintiff is a minor or is incapacitated
  • The City becomes aware of the facts of the case within the 90-day time frame
  • The delay does not cause substantial prejudice to the City

In this case, it was found that the City already knew about the defective gloves issue, and the court determined that the City would not be prejudiced by allowing a late filing. Mr. Kalwiss has been allowed to file a notice of claim on the City, even though he is past the 90-day period.

The court was clear in this case that ignorance of the notice of claim requirement is not a reasonable excuse. Also, it is important to note that the decision whether or not to grant this exception was solely within the judge’s discretion. The decision could have gone either way. It is important to get an attorney on board as soon as possible and file in a timely manner whenever possible. If a timely claim cannot be made, your lawyer may still be able to help you by petitioning the court for permission to file late. In New York City, contact Leandros A. Vrionedes, P.C. for assistance with any personal injury or wrongful death claim brought against a municipality or private party.