Most of the time, when another person is negligent and you are injured as a result, you have the right to sue the negligent party for damages. But what happens if the negligent party is a government entity? What if you are injured on public property, like a sidewalk? Can you sue the city or municipality responsible for maintaining and repairing sidewalks?
In the state of New York, special rules apply for those who are injured on city property. Continue reading to learn more about suing the city of Buffalo if you fall on a sidewalk or are injured anywhere on municipal property.
If you think you may have a case, we recommend that you contact our Buffalo personal injury lawyers at Richmond Vona, LLC as soon as possible for a free consultation. We can help you understand your legal options and determine whether you have grounds to bring a claim against the city.
One important rule regarding suing the city for damages is the issue of prior notice. To bring a lawsuit against the city of Buffalo, you will need to prove that the city had received prior written notice of the defect or condition that caused your injury.
According to section 21-2 of the Buffalo City Charter, reporting the defect to a government employee or by calling the city’s 311 number is not enough. Rather, an official report only occurs when “written notice of such alleged condition relating to the particular place and location was actually given to the city clerk…”
Additionally, a lawsuit will only be successful when the plaintiff (injured party) can prove that the city had not only received appropriate written notice of the alleged defect/condition but also had sufficient time to address it. The Buffalo City Charter states that a claim may only be filed when “there was a failure or neglect within a reasonable time thereafter to remedy or correct the alleged condition complained of.”
Statute of Limitations
As with all personal injury claims, cases against the city are subject to a statute of limitations. The statute of limitations is the amount of time you have to file your lawsuit with the court. While the statute of limitations for standard personal injury claims in New York is three years (with some exceptions, including cases involving medical malpractice), different time limits apply in claims against the government.
If you are injured after falling on the sidewalk in Buffalo, you must file a formal claim with the city within 90 days. Following this, you only have one year to file a lawsuit.
Because of these strict deadlines, it is extremely important that you contact an attorney right away after an accident on city property. The sooner we can begin investigating your case, the better.
Notice of Intent to File Claim
As briefly mentioned above, you must file a formal claim, known as the Notice of Intent to File Claim, with the city government within 90 days of the accident/injury. This must be done before you file a lawsuit against the municipal entity.
The Notice of Intent to File Claim must contain certain specific information. This may include things like your name, your address, and the date, time, and location of the accident/injury. You may also be required to provide information about your medical providers.
Typically, the Notice of Intent to File Claim form must be mailed to the appropriate government employee and/or entity—it is not filed with the court. Additionally, once you have filed the Notice of Intent to File Claim form, you will typically need to abide by a set waiting period (often between 30 and 120 days) before filing the lawsuit.
How Our Firm Can Help
If you slipped, tripped, or fell on a sidewalk and you believe the city’s negligence is to blame, it is critical that you have an attorney on your side. Personal injury claims against government entities are far more complex than standard personal injury cases; you need someone who knows the law and can ensure your rights are protected every step of the way.
At Richmond Vona, LLC, we provide honest, straightforward counsel to all prospective clients. We can carefully evaluate and assess your situation to determine whether we think you have a case. We encourage you to reach out to us right away for a no-cost, no-obligation consultation.