Imagine that you suffer injuries from a fall on a sidewalk owned by a town or the state. Imagine that you are struck by a city bus. Imagine that you are injured by the negligence of an employee of the State of New York.  Even though a governmental entity is liable rather than to an individual or a corporation, you can still seek compensation for your injuries. The process, however, is slightly different than for a law suit against an individual or a corporation.

There are certain rules and a timeline that must be followed in order to ensure that you do you not lose your claim for recovery. The statute of limitations for personal injury law suits against most New York State governmental entities is 1 year and 90 days from the date of the accident; however, a Notice of Claim must usually be filed within 90 days of the accident. This deadline is much shorter than that of negligence actions against individuals or corporations, which is 3 years.

The Doctrine of Sovereign Immunity protects the government from law suits unless they consent to being sued. New York State and its municipalities have waived this immunity in many situations if notice of the accident is given within the statutory time limit. The following are some distinctions between claims against municipalities verses those against the State of New York:

Municipality or County


  • Serve a Notice of Claim on the municipality or county within 90 days of the accident
  • Only after a hearing is conducted may a lawsuit be commenced
  • Case is filed in Supreme Court
  • Case is tried in front of a jury

State of New York


  • File and serve a Claim on the Attorney General within 90 days of the accident
  • Case is filed in the Court of Claims
  • Case is tried in front of a judge

Because of the time constraints in which to commence a law suit, and the specific procedures required to file a law suit depending on whether the liable party is a municipality, county, the State of New York or certain other governmental or quasi-governmental entities, it is important that you seek the advice of a skilled litigation attorney.

Cynthia Fichera, partner of Spiegel, Brown and Fichera, LLP, has obtained substantial recoveries against governmental entities including: $1.7 million for wrongful death in a case where a stop sign was partially blocked by a tree, $1.2 million for a foot and knee injury where a prison van pulled out in front of her client’s car, $80,000 for a knee and ankle injury sustained from a slip and fall on ice on property owned by New York State and $70,000 for a shoulder injury when a woman was struck by a Dutchess County bus. If you have been injured and a governmental entity is liable, do not hesitate to contact the attorneys at Spiegel, Brown and Fichera, LLP to ensure that you do not lose out on compensation for your injuries.