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Parents’ Grief Over Death Of Child Is Not An Excuse For The Late Filing Of Tort Claims Notice

by | Apr 30, 2021 | Medical Malpractice, Personal Injury |

The Appellate Division in New Jersey has recently denied a mother’s appeal of the dismissal of her lawsuit against a public entity for failure to file a Torts Claim Notice within the requisite 90-day time period required by NJSA 59:8-8.  The Court ruled that the mother’s grief from the loss of her son was not an “extraordinary circumstance” that justified her missing the deadline.  Under the New Jersey Tort Claims Act, a public entity or employee is entitled to notice of the potential civil claim within 90 days of the happening of the event.  Failure to do so will result in the inability of the Plaintiff to pursue a lawsuit thereafter.

In this decision, the Plaintiff mother representing the Estate of her son, filed a notice with the State that she intended to sue after her son’s death on January 25, 2019.  While the deadline would have been April 25, 2019, she did not file until May 1st claiming that the grief that she suffered incapacitated her which is why she filed late.  According to the Appellate Division opinion, she offered no formal diagnosis or opinion to explain the impact that her son’s death had on her to excuse her late filing and accordingly, the claim would be barred going forward. The Court noted but rejected factual issues raised by the mother regarding whether the doctors involved were in fact State employees and if so, whether she had reasonably been made aware of that.

If you have a personal injury or medical malpractice matter, it is important to contact a knowledgeable and experienced attorney promptly to ensure so that deadlines are met and your rights are protected.  If you have a such a matter, please feel to contact the attorneys at Hagner & Zohlman, LLC.