On cable news station NY1 there was a story showing the traps for an injured person in going without an attorney against New York City Transit Authority. See story here.
The motorist and his damaged vehicle.
Apparently, a NYCTA bus caused the front end damage. The vehicle owner claims that it was an open and shut case against NYCTA, and he was told so by a NYCTA supervisor at the scene.
The owner tried to settle his $3,800 collision bill. He got nowhere by calling NYCTA and leaving numerous voicemails. Finally, he sent a notice of claim to NYCTA by Federal Express 2 days short of the 90 day deadline. NYCTA returned the notice as invalidly served. NYCTA says that the statute clearly states that service must be made either by personal delivery at its office or by certified or registered mail. Fedex does not count.
Therefore, the owner’s claim was denied as being improperly served. He called the consumer reporter, “NY1 for You”, to air his story.
Here are some valuable lessons:
- Do not try to handle your own case. It is little technicalities, such as this, which will trap a regular person. A failure to properly serve a notice of claim will foreclose any recovery no matter the merits of your case.
- Statutory requirements, such as the notice of claim on NYCTA, MTA, New York City, and other government entities, are strictly applied and are most unforgiving. This case is an example. Another example is timing. A notice of claim served as much as 1 day late is invalid.
- A typical mistake in serving the notice of claim is serving it on wrong place. The notice must be served at a specially designated office. For example, a notice of claim served on an NYCTA garage would be invalid. The notice must be served on NYCTA’s main office on Livingston Street, Brooklyn, New York.
- Another mistake is naming the wrong entity. For example, the subways are owned and operated by NYCTA and not New York City. The notice of claim must be served on NYCTA offices on Livingston Street. A notice served on New York City at its Comptroller’s Office would be invalid.
- If you decide to handle the case on your own, call the Legal Referral Service (212-626-7373) for an initial consultation with an attorney who can provide some guidance. The Legal Referral Service is a non-profit group supported by the bar associations of New York City. It charges $35 for an half hour consultation with an attorney.
If you have been injured as a result of an accident with NYCTA, MTA, NYC, or any other governmental entity, please feel free to call me for a free consultation at 800-581-1434 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mark E. Seitelman, 7/28/10, www.seitelman.com.