On December 17, 2012 Governor Cuomo signed the Uniform Notice of Claim Act (hereinafter "the Act") that amends several statutes including, but not limited to, the General Municipal Law, Public Authorities Law and the Education Law. This will affect the manner in which individuals bring claims against villages. The Act allows individuals that intend to sue a public entity such as a village to "serve" notices of claim on the village by serving the New York Secretary of State instead of serving the appropriate village. The Secretary of State is then required to forward the Notice of Claim to the village within 10 days of receipt. This means that if a person is injured on a village sidewalk that individual can serve a notice of claim with the Secretary of State in Albany or wherever the Secretary designates a service office.
Further, the Act did not amend the provision in the General Municipal Law that requires public entities to conduct investigative "50-h hearings" or "pre-action hearings" within 90 days of service of the Notice of Claim. Essentially this will cause villages to lose at least 10 of those 90 days. Villages need to be aware that the 90-day clock starts ticking when the Secretary of State is served. However, Governor Cuomo signed the bill under the condition that the Legislature agreed to a chapter amendment to address the shortened time periods villages will have to investigate claims.
Additionally, the Act also changes the method for determining when the statute of limitations begins to run. For example, individuals will have the option of suing a village on a personal injury claim within one year and ninety days after the cause of action has accrued. Consequently, this lengthens the time villages are exposed to lawsuits.
On a positive note, the Act allows the Secretary of State to raise the filing fee for notices of claim to $250.00, with half of the fee forwarded to the Village named in the notice of claim. The Act becomes effective June 15, 2013 and Villages have up to 30 days after the law becomes effective to file a certificate with the Secretary of State designating the Secretary as the agent for service.
For more information on how this Act will affect your village, please contact your village attorneys or