You don’t always have two years to bring a personal injury claim in New Jersey
The dangers of waiting to see a lawyer after a personal injury accident
Why waiting is not a good idea.Many people believe they can wait up to two years after an accident before filing a personal injury lawsuit in New Jersey. People are often surprised to learn that when bringing a claim for personal injuries against a public entity or employee of a public entity, or even an Amusement Park, that they must give proper notice of the claim within 90 days of their accident / injury or they may have forever waived their rights to bring a claim and receive compensation. Also, if suing the Port Authority, you need to (with very few exceptions) file a lawuit within one year of the accident!
Late filing of a notice of claim is permissible if you can show *extraordinary circumstances * for failing to meet the 90 day deadline.
What are *extraordinary circumstances*? In the matter of Johnson v. Housing Auth. of Newark & Newark, 2006 N.J. Super. Unpub. LEXIS 448 (App.Div. 2006) the plaintiff claimed that one afternoon he was walking to his cousin*s apartment in the Bradley Court Housing Complex in Newark when 4 masked men abducted him, dragged him into an apartment, held him at gunpoint and told to strip to his underwear. He was *hog-tied,* gagged, repeatedly punched and kicked by the four men who demanded money. He certified that he was hit with a gun over the eye, burned on the chest with a heated knife, and shot in the upper right arm. He managed to escape by jumping out a window and was then found by an employee of the complex. Police and hospital emergency personnel responded and plaintiff was transported by ambulance to the emergency room at University Hospital, where he remained for five days. His discharge summary gave diagnoses of *multiple stab wounds to the right shoulder, right back, right eyebrow and abdomen; right pneumothorax; and hypovolemic/traumatic shock.*
In plaintiff*s late notices, he stated that the injuries he suffered from the attack were the proximate result of the failure of the public entities to provide adequate protection in the common areas of the Bradley Court complex where the risk of criminal activity was well-known and reasonably foreseeable.
Plaintiff stated he was unaware of the ninety-day notice requirement and adds that it was reasonable for him to assume the public entities knew of the incident because a housing complex employee found him after the attack and the Newark police investigated the incident, which was reported in the press.
The New Jersey Appellate Court ruled that *[n]othing in plaintiff*s certification indicates that he was physically or psychologically unable to call an attorney or go to an attorney*s office.* The Appellate Court therefore affirmed the dismissal of plaintiff*s claim.
Evidence may be lostAside from waiving your rights by not seeking representation early on, you may jeopardize your case by failing to have your lawyer perverse valuable evidence for you. If you wait two years to seek representation, you run the risk of losing witnesses that may be favorable to you due to them moving. Additionally, if a defect caused your injury, the potential defendant may repair the defect and thus preventing you from obtaining an accurate photograph to show what the actual defect looked like on the date of accident.