Filing a notice of claim with a governmental agency is a prerequisite to filing suit. Without proper notice, any subsequent lawsuit can be thrown out of court. The problem has been that every municipality, school district or public authority has its own rules for when and whom to serve. Too often legitimate claims have been discarded because of confusion over the notice of claim process.
The Uniform Notice of Claims Act (S.7641-B and A.10657-A) was introduced to end this confusion. Sponsored by Senator Jack M. Martins (R-Nassau County) and Assemblywoman Helene Weinstein (D-Brooklyn), it was signed into law by Governor Andrew Cuomo on December 17, 2012. The new law provides attorneys with the option of filing a notice of claim with the New York secretary of state, who then has the authority to forward the notice to the proper agency. Second, the law imposes a uniform requirement that claimants have 90 days to file a notice of claim. Third, except for wrongful death actions, claimants have one year and 90 days as a statute of limitations in which to commence suit against the government entity.
Furthermore, the filing fee was raised from $40 to $250 with half going to the localities and half staying with the secretary of state. Some counties objected to the new streamlining, afraid that the easier system would overwhelm the secretary of state’s office and further delay resolution of claims. The new law will go into effect one 180 days after it was approved by the governor.