An attorney can help you and it sounds like you need it. You may be able to file a lawsuit and apply to the judge for an order allowing you to file a late notice of claim with the proper entity, if necessary.
You may have to argue constructive notice, an experienced personal injury lawyer should be able to assess whether you have met the notice requirements.
This is general advice and does not establish an attorney-client relationship.
See the answer I posted to Part 2 of your questions...
THESE COMMENTS MUST NOT BE CONSIDERED LEGAL ADVICE. Comments made on websites such as Avvo.com are provided for information purposes only. The only way to determine how the law may apply to your particular situation is to consult with an attorney licensed in your jurisdiction. Answering this question does not create an attorney-client relationship or otherwise require further consultation.
Sounds like you're having trouble submitting the claim correctly. Unfortunately, if they are telling you that you have blown the six month deadline, you will probably need the court's intervention.
The laws in this area are pretty complicated and someone that isn't expirienced can easily get trapped. You should consult with an attorney ASAP because you only have a small window of time to try to fix the blown deadline problem.
Always consult with an attorney licensed in your State for more detailed information.
DWP is a public utility company. You should find the pull the claim form from the DWP website (I just looked at it). It is VERY important to get your claim on file within the 6 months of your incident or your claim will be barred by the Government Code. Personal injury claims include injuries and property damage. The statute of limitation is six months for these claims from the date of the injury or property damage. For this type of government claim you should review California Government Code section 905 and section 911.2. Consulting a personal injury attorney, will ensure that the claim is filed properly and within the given amount of time. You must get the claim filed timely!
Once your claim has been filed with the government has 45 days to respond, to your claim. During this 45 days, if your claim is denied, then you will have six months to file a lawsuit in court from the date of the denial was mailed or hand delivered. You must get the lawsuit filed within the 6 months or you risk losing the ability to sue.
Government claim statute of limitations can be confusing and if there are any doubts, it is crucial to consult an experienced lawyer. They will be able to discuss the statute of limitation time period and can help protect your rights, if your government claim is denied.
It is critical that you get the claim form on file within the 6 months and important that you fully and accurately fill it out.
While you can handle the claim form on your own, I would recommend getting a lawyer to assist you.
I'd like to supplement the excellent advice you received by my esteemed colleagues. The California Tort Claims Act provides traps for the unwary not necessarily purposefully. You need the help of an attorney to determine which persons and entities appear to have liability for this mess. A claim against the City should be good against its myriad microcosms, and I suspect that the D.W.P. and Street/Lighting services are all tentacles of the same City of L.A. If somehow you haven't filed a timely claim, you may still be able to file an application to submit a late claim, and should that option be blown you can petition the Court to free you of the claims hassles. Just getting a timely claim file is not remotely correlated with fair handling of the claim; you likely will still have to sue. Yes, get yourself a local attorney. I know of an attorney down here who was clobbered by a falling tree, rendered a paraplegic, and recovered quite a bit in Court.