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Filing a Personal Injury Claim Against New York City*

If you are injured anywhere in a city because of a car crash involving a vehicle on the public transport network or any other government owned vehicle, you may be entitled to compensation if you can prove that the accident was not your fault and that either the city or the state government was liable.

Making a personal injury claim against a government entity is more difficult than suing a private individual or business. There are stricter time limits on how much can be claimed and the whole process is more rigid. Talk to an experienced personal injury attorney before you take legal action.

State and City Laws Regarding Government Personal Injury Claims

Like the federal government and other state and municipal authorities, both the state and city governments have what is called “sovereign immunity.” Theoretically, immunity prevents a personal injury lawsuit against either entity. In practice, however, it is possible to sue either the city or the state government as long as a very precise and rigid procedure is followed.

If you have been injured on government property, e.g. on a public road, street or highway or in a collision with any vehicle belonging to the public transport networks, you must file a “Notice of Claim” within 90 days of the injury with the government agency involved. This gives the agency time to instigate an investigation into the incident. The agency has 30 days to request a formal hearing, and may also request a medical examination to confirm the nature of your injury.

Both the state and city allow a total of 1 year and 90 days (including the time given for the notice of claim) after the date of the injury to file a personal injury claim. Extensions may be granted in exceptional circumstances.

Potential Accident Scenarios

There are a multitude of possible scenarios in which you could be injured on government property. Some of the more likely include:

  • injuries sustained in a government car park;
  • a car accident involved with a government vehicle such as a police vehicle;
  • a car accident due to poor maintenance on a state highway;
  • an accident involving a collision with a city bus, train, subway or ferry;
  • an auto accident within the grounds of a public school administered by the state.

Accidents Involving Public Transportation

Millions of people use a city bus, train, subway or a ferry every single day. The chance of an unexpected auto accident is quite high at times and some of these accidents could be due to negligence on the part of the MTA. Examples of negligence include errors made by a driver, poor maintenance and signaling errors.

The Transit Authority is self-insured, so any claims made against them are made directly to the Authority and not to an independent insurer. As with other government entities, a Notice of Claim must be made within 90 days of the injury occurring. The Authority has 30 days to organize a formal hearing and initiate an investigation into the accident and how your injuries occurred. You have a further year to file a personal injury claim against the Authority from the time of the accident.

As with other personal injury claims, you must have proof that either an employee of the MTA or the Authority itself was at fault, i.e. that negligence was involved. An example would be if you were hit by a city bus at an intersection that had failed to yield the right of way. Evidence of liability is essential, such as photos taken at the scene, witness statements, police reports, car damage reports from a garage and medical documents.

Make Sure You Have a Good Case Against the Party at Fault

Winning a personal injury lawsuit against a government entity is challenging, even if you keep to the time limits imposed on you. If you do not submit a Notice of Claim, for instance, you may lose any chance of suing the agency involved. The city or state may also deny your claim following an internal investigation. This doesn’t prevent you from winning compensation eventually, but it does make the whole litigation process more complex.

The best advice if you are involved in any type of accident in which you are injured in or on government property, and believe that you are entitled to compensation because of negligence on the part of the agency involved, is that you get legal assistance from an experienced personal injury attorney.

Additional Resources

Finding an Attorney in NYC
Auto Accident Resources in NYC


The content of this article serves only to provide information and should not be construed as legal advice. If you file a claim against the city or state of New York, or any other party, you may not be entitled to any compensation.

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