What is the NJ Tort Claims Act?

Dawn Pinnisi

May 29, 2024

The NJ Tort Claims Act is a crucial piece of legislation that governs how individuals can seek compensation for injuries caused by the negligence of public entities in the state of New Jersey. It provides a framework for holding these entities accountable for their actions and ensures that victims have the opportunity to seek justice for their injuries.

These claims can be challenging, and mistakes can cost injury victims significant compensation. If you suffered an injury, ensure you immediately consult an experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney who can handle your claim.

Overview of the NJ Tort Claims Act

In general, when another party causes you injury, the law allows you to seek compensation from the liable party for your medical bills and other losses. Sometimes, a government actor or agency is the negligent party responsible for causing injuries. For example:

  • A slip and fall on a government-owned property, such as a sidewalk or in a public building. If the government entity fails to properly maintain or repair the property, it may be held responsible for any injuries that occur as a result.
  • A car accident involving a government-owned vehicle. If a government employee is at fault for the accident, the injured party may be able to seek compensation for their injuries and damage to their vehicle.
  • Accidents involving public transportation can also result in NJ Tort Claims Act cases. If someone is injured while riding on a government-owned bus or train due to the negligence of the driver or the entity responsible for maintaining the vehicle, they may have grounds to file a claim.

The procedures for seeking compensation from the government are different from seeking compensation from private parties.

The NJ Tort Claims Act outlines the procedures and limitations associated with filing a lawsuit against a public entity or public employee in the state of New Jersey. It is crucial for individuals who have suffered harm or losses due to the actions or negligence of a government entity or employee to understand their rights and the specific requirements of this act, and they should have the right representation from a personal injury lawyer.

Under the NJ Tort Claims Act, individuals must follow a strict timeline for filing a notice of claim, which is a written statement informing the government entity or employee of the details of the incident and the resulting damages. This notice must be filed within 90 days of the incident, or the claim may be denied.

Furthermore, the act establishes certain limitations on the amount of compensation that can be awarded in a lawsuit against a public entity or employee. These limitations are in place to protect taxpayers and ensure that public funds are not excessively used to settle claims. However, navigating these limitations and understanding the potential exceptions can be complex, which is why it is advisable to consult with a knowledgeable attorney who specializes in tort claims.

Retaining a skilled attorney who is well-versed in the NJ Tort Claims Act can greatly increase your chances of obtaining the maximum compensation you deserve. They can guide you through the steps of seeking compensation under this act, ensure that all necessary documents and deadlines are met, and effectively advocate for your rights.

How Does Compensation Work in These Cases?

When seeking compensation under the NJ Tort Claims Act, the process can be quite complicated. In order to understand how it works, first note that compensation in these cases typically consists of two components: economic damages and non-economic damages.

Economic damages refer to the financial losses incurred as a result of the injury, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and property damage. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, encompass intangible losses such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, and loss of enjoyment of life.

To pursue a claim under the NJ Tort Claims Act, you must establish that the injury was caused by the negligence of a public entity or its employees. This can be a challenging task, as public entities are often protected by governmental immunity. However, the law creates exceptions to this immunity that can allow victims to pursue their claims for personal injury when eligible.

Precedential Case

Insurance issues can become more complicated when the liable party is the government. In personal injury claims involving private parties, your insurance company might provide coverage and then seek reimbursement from the liable party’s insurer through a process called subrogation. However, in cases under the NJ Tort Claims Act, subrogation is likely prohibited.

One precedential case that sheds light on the issue of subrogation under the NJ Tort Claims Act is Hayes v. Pittsgrove Tp. Bd. Of Educ., 269 N.J. Super 449 (App. Div. 1994). In this case, a minor plaintiff was injured on property owned by a public entity. The minor plaintiff’s father was an employee of a company that maintained a health and welfare plan that provided coverage for the expenses incurred due to the minor plaintiff’s medical treatment.

During the litigation, the health and welfare plan asserted its right to be reimbursed for the payments it had made, either through subrogation or directly from the minor plaintiff’s father. However, the court concluded that the plan was not entitled to recover any expenses because the settlement did not include compensation for medical expenses. The court stated that allowing the plan to recover would be fundamentally inconsistent with the nature of subrogation and the intent of N.J.S.A. 59:9-2(e), which prohibits subrogation claims against governmental entities.

This case highlights the limitations of subrogation and the protection provided by the New Jersey Tort Claims Act, ensuring that insurance companies cannot subrogate a claim for medical expenses if the victim receives a judgment against a public entity for pain and suffering.

How to File a Tort Claim Notice?

If you have been injured due to the negligence of a public entity in New Jersey, you must follow the proper procedures to protect your rights and seek the compensation you deserve. One of the first steps in the process is filing a Tort Claim Notice.

A Tort Claim Notice is a written notification to the public entity responsible for your injury, informing them of your intent to file a claim. This notice must be filed within 90 days of the incident, providing details about the nature of the claim, the injuries sustained, and the amount of damages sought.

A failure to file a Tort Claim Notice within the specified timeframe can result in the forfeiture of your right to pursue a claim. Therefore, you should always consult with an experienced New Jersey personal injury attorney as soon as possible to ensure that all necessary steps are taken to protect your rights.

Consult Our New Jersey Personal Injury Attorneys Today

At Varcadipane & Pinnisi, P.C., our dedicated team of attorneys is well-versed in the New Jersey Tort Claims Act and committed to advocating for our clients’ rights. We understand the emotional and financial toll that a serious injury can have on your life, and we are here to provide the support and guidance you need during this difficult time.

If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of a public entity in New Jersey, don’t wait to seek legal counsel. Contact us today at (201) 588-1500 or online to schedule a consultation. Our compassionate and skilled attorneys will review your case, explain your rights, and help you navigate the process of seeking the compensation you deserve.

Dawn M. Pinnisi

Dawn M. Pinnisi is a distinguished attorney with a track record of excellence in advocating for victims of injury and negligence. Dawn is a Founding Partner of the Firm, a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, and has been awarded by the National Trial Lawyers.

University: J.D. Brooklyn Law School

Bar Number: 33771999

Locations: New Jersey and New York.

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This page has been written, edited, and reviewed by a team of legal writers following our comprehensive editorial guidelines. This page was approved by Founding Partners, Jeffrey W. Varcadipane & Dawn M. Pinnisi, with more than 40 years of combined legal experience as personal injury attorneys.

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