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Many states and municipalities have notice of claim provisions in their statutes and ordinances which says that before a lawsuit is started, a notice of claim must be filed within a reasonable time, usually three to six months after the injury occurs. The notice must contain the date of injury, how it occurred, the nature of the claim and other facts that establish that the prospective plaintiff has a viable cause of action against the government. Failure to file a notice of claim within the prescribed time period prevents a plaintiff from filing a lawsuit unless exceptions to this requirement are provided by statute or ordinance.Example of a state statute (New York) on Notice of Claim
In New York, the Notice of Claim should be in writing, sworn to by or on behalf of the claimant. The notice shall be served on the public corporation against which the claim is made by delivering a copy thereof personally, or by registered or certified mail, to the person designated by law as one to whom a summons in an action in the supreme court issued against such corporation may be delivered, or to an attorney regularly engaged in representing such public corporation.
NY CLS Gen Mun § 50-e Notice of claim
1. When service required; time for service; upon whom service required.
(a) In any case founded upon tort where a notice of claim is required by law as a condition precedent to the commencement of an action or special proceeding against a public corporation, as defined in the general construction law, or any officer, appointee or employee thereof, the notice of claim shall comply with and be served in accordance with the provisions of this section within ninety days after the claim arises; except that in wrongful death actions, the ninety days shall run from the appointment of a representative of the decedent's estate.
(b) Service of the notice of claim upon an officer, appointee or employee of a public corporation shall not be a condition precedent to the commencement of an action or special proceeding against such person. If an action or special proceeding is commenced against such person, but not against the public corporation, service of the notice of claim upon the public corporation shall be required only if the corporation has a statutory obligation to indemnify such person under this chapter or any other provision of law.