Public schools and their employees are considered municipal entities which means special provisions must be followed even before starting a formal lawsuit or your child’s potential claim is at risk for being lost forever. The General Municipal Law requires that within 90 days of accrual of a claim, i.e. when the accident happened, the school must be served with a “Notice of Claim”. A Notice of Claim provides some information to the municipal entity so that it has the ability to investigate what happened and collect evidence in a timely manner. The parents then must wait 30 days after the Notice of Claim has been served on the school to file a lawsuit in Court. The statute of limitations to commence a lawsuit is 1 year and 90 days from when the accident occurred.
Children under the age of 18 are given the benefit of a toll to the statute of limitations until he or she reaches the age of 18. This means that once the notice of claim is provided, the 1 year and 90-day time limit does not commence until the child turns 18. Tolling means to pause. This does not mean that a claim cannot be brought sooner, it just means that it does not have to be. A lawsuit can always be commenced during the tolling period. Any claims that belong to the parent, as noted above, are not given the benefit of this toll and must be commenced within 1 year and 90 days of the incident or they may be lost forever.