Do I need to file a government claim before filing a lawsuit?

May 10, 2018

This depends on whether you intend to file the lawsuit in federal court or state court, and the claims you intend to allege. 

Civil Rights Violation

In the event of a civil rights violation, if you intend to file a lawsuit in federal court, you must first exhaust your administrative remedies by filing a claim or complaint with a federal or state agency. For example, in order to file a lawsuit in federal court alleging federal civil rights violations in  employment discrimination cases, you must first file a Charge of Discrimination with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)  within 180 days (or 300 days, depending on the jurisdiction) of the event.

If you decide to file suit in state court, you do not have to file with the EEOC first, but you will then be forgoing any federal claims.    It is important to speak with a lawyer before making any filings with federal or state agencies to ensure that your claims are complete and include all potential claims. 

Injury or Illness

If you have endured an injury or illness due to the negligence of a city, county, state, or federal agency, they should be held responsible. However, you should know that the process of filing a claim against a government agency is much more rigid compared to one against a business or other person(s). In general, time limits are much shorter when filing against a government agency. While in New York a “Notice of Claim” must be filed within 90 days of the incident, some jurisdictions require you to file a Notice of Claim within 30 days of your injury or condition.

In addition to stricter time limits, when filing against a government agency you cannot simply file a lawsuit (in most states the Notice of Claim should include specific information related to the and then you have to wait a period of time after sending the notice before you can file a lawsuit in court. 

Any type of lawsuit against a government agency is going to be trickier and perhaps more difficult than a regular lawsuit. It would be wise to consult with or have an experienced attorney on your side. You can contact The Cochran Firm New York for a free consultation today.

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