Injury Claims Against the Government

In New York, injury claims against the government are covered by the New York Court of Claims Act. If your injury occurred due to the negligence of an employee or agency of the government, in New York, you’ll need to play by a different set of rules if you want to get compensation for your losses. The first step is usually to file a formal claim with the proper government agency, and give them time to respond.Article II, Section 8 of the Court of Claims Act says that the government “hereby waives its immunity from liability and action” and consents to be sued in court, under the same rules private individuals might use to sue one another.

What does this mean? In short, it means that injured persons may sue the state of New York for negligence, just as they would sue a private party. Section 8 waives the old rule of “sovereign immunity.” Under this rule, which dates back to medieval England, individuals could not sue the king for wrongs, even if they had suffered losses as a result of the king’s actions.

If you want to sue a local government for an injury, you’ll need to follow a rigid set of rules, and you may be limited in terms of when and how much you may recover, here are a few of them:

You have 90 days to file a formal claim against a city in New York, and one year to file a lawsuit against a city. (N.Y. Gen. Mun. Laws § 50-e.)
You also have 90 days to file a formal claim against a county in New York, and one year to file a lawsuit. (N.Y. County Law § 52.)
You have 90 days to file a claim against the state of New York (or notice of intent to file claim if, within the 90 days, you are unable to arrive at a final claim figure, such as if medical treatment is incomplete). (N.Y. Court of Claims Act § 10.)