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Can I still sue over an injury from 4 years ago?

Man's leg below the knee, encased in a orange-and-blue cast.

(Photo: Flickr/4x4king10)

Can I still sue over an injury from 4 years ago?

September 24, 2013

Q: I live in New Jersey. I fell on ice in December 2009 at a township-owned building and broke my leg. I needed surgery on Christmas Eve to have 7 screws and a metal plate in my leg. I am still having pain. Do I still have the option to sue?

A: Yes, you can, but it is difficult and you may have already missed an important notice deadline. Most personal injury claims against public entities are prohibited by the concept of sovereign immunity. New Jersey has replaced this immunity with certain statutory protections.

First, the responsible government body must be informed in writing within 90 days of an accident that a claim is being made. This requirement all but reduces the statute of limitations from the usual two years to three months.

Second, a plaintiff must prove that a government body had prior notice of dangerous conditions on its property and a chance to correct the condition, as the government is not required to inspect its property.

Third, the plaintiff's injuries must constitute a permanent loss of a body function that substantially impacts the plaintiff's life, a threshold that is rarely met. Be sure to verify the information I have provided with a local attorney who is familiar with your local laws and procedures.

-- Answer from Loren J., an attorney on JustAnswer.

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