An injury case claim does not last forever. Personal injury law requires accident victims to take legal action promptly. If a victim fails to take proper legal action in time, he or she loses his or her right to compensation.
While most people realize that injury law deadlines exist, many aren’t aware of how short the deadlines can be. While it’s true that most (not all) personal injury cases in New Jersey have a two-year deadline to sue, many cases have much shorter deadlines. In this post, I will discuss three common examples of short deadlines that may apply to a personal injury case.
New Jersey Tort Claims Act
If a New Jersey state, county, or local government employee or public entity injures someone, New Jersey law requires that the victim serve a notice of claim on the applicable public entity within 90 days of the incident. (Sometimes, a victim won’t realize immediately that someone else hurt him. An example would be a bad surgery, where the victim might not realize at first that his doctor hurt him. In such a case, the 90 days runs from when the victim knew, or reasonably should have known, that someone else’s negligence hurt him).
If a victim misses the 90-day deadline, he or she can file a court action requesting an extension. The victim can ask the judge for permission to file a late notice, up to within one year of the incident. (Or one year from when the victim knew, or reasonably should have known, that someone else’s negligence hurt him.) However, the victim must prove that there were “extraordinary circumstances” to gain the extension. The fact that the victim was unaware of the claims notice requirement is generally NOT an “extraordinary circumstance.” Therefore, judges rarely grant permission to file a late notice of claim under this law.
Juveniles generally have longer than 90 days from the accident date to file a claims notice. But that is a subject for another post.
Finally, serving a notice of claim is not the same thing as suing. The common two-year New Jersey deadline to sue generally also applies, on top of the 90-day notice of claim requirement.
The Carnival Amusement Ride Act
If someone gets hurt at a carnival or amusement park, the Carnival Amusement Ride Safety Act typically applies. That law requires the victim to serve a notice of claim within 90 days of the date of the accident. Failure to serve the notice voids any injury claim. Again, the normal New Jersey deadline to sue applies on top of this notice requirement.
An Injury Case Against a Ski Operator
Accidents may happen to a skier while skiing a slope. As a precondition to suing a ski slope operator, a skier must report in writing to the ski area operator all the details of any accident “as soon as possible.” However, the report must be made within 90 days at the latest. The notice must include certain required information.
A skier who fails to give the report within 90 days from the time of the accident can file a court action requesting an extension. The victim can ask the judge for permission to serve a late notice, up to within one year of the incident. The skier must show “sufficient reasons” for the skier’s failure to give the report within 90 days. The skier must also show that failure to give notice on time did not unduly harm the ski operator’s ability to defend itself.
Once more, the two-year New Jersey deadline to sue applies on top of this notice requirement.
The above laws have many details, requirements and even exceptions. I could not include all such details, requirements, and exceptions in a short blog post. Moreover, these three laws are not exclusive. Indeed, in my next post, I will list more laws that may impose a short deadline in an injury case.
Laws also change from time to time. Such changes may occur after I post on this topic.
Accordingly, if you have a possible personal injury case, consult an experienced personal injury lawyer immediately. Your injury case may ride on how soon you do.