Senator PATRICK J. DIEGNAN, JR.
District 18 (Middlesex)
Eliminates pre-lawsuit, notice of claim requirements for suits filed against any State or local public entity or public employee under “New Jersey Tort Claims Act” or “New Jersey Contractual Liability Act.”
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
An Act eliminating pre-lawsuit, notice of claim requirements for suits filed against any State or local public entity or public employee, and revising various parts of the statutory law.
Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:
1. N.J.S.59:8-1 is amended to read as follows:
59:8-1. Accrual shall mean the date on which the claim accrued [and shall not be affected by the notice provisions contained herein].
2. N.J.S.59:8-6 is amended to read as follows:
59:8-6. [Claim forms; additional evidence and information; examinations. A public entity may by rule or regulation adopt forms specifying information to be contained in claims filed against it or its employee under this act. Such forms shall include the requirements of 59:8-4 of this act and may include such additional information or evidence as (1) written reports of a claimant's attending physicians or dentists setting forth the nature and extent of injury and treatment, any degree of temporary or permanent disability, the prognosis, period of hospitalization, and any diminished earning capacity; (2) a list of claimant's expert witnesses and any of their reports or statements relating to the claim; (3) itemized bills for medical, dental, and hospital expenses incurred, or itemized receipts of payment for such expenses; (4) documentary evidence showing amounts of income lost; (5) if future treatment is necessary, a statement of anticipated expenses for each treatment.
In addition, the] A claimant filing a suit may be required to submit to a physical or mental examination by a physician employed by the public entity and [a] the claimant may be required to permit a public entity to inspect all appropriate records relating to his claim for liability and damages including, but not limited to, income tax returns, hospital records, medical records and employment records.
The Attorney General is hereby authorized to issue rules and regulations on behalf of the State for the purpose of eliciting the types of information referred to in this section and for specifying any additional information which may be reasonably necessary for the [administrative disposition] handling of claims under this act.
(cf: P.L.1994, c.49, s.3)
3. N.J.S.59:8-8 is amended to read as follows:
59:8-8. [Time for presentation of claims. A claim relating to a cause of action for death or for injury or damage to person or to property shall be presented as provided in this chapter not later than the 90th day after accrual of the cause of action. After the expiration of six months from the date notice of claim is received, the] A claimant may file suit in an appropriate court of law. The claimant shall be forever barred from recovering against a public entity or public employee if:
a. [The claimant failed to file the claim with the public entity within 90 days of accrual of the claim except as otherwise provided in N.J.S.59:8-9; or] (Deleted by amendment, P.L. , c. ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill)
b. Two years have elapsed since the accrual of the claim; or
c. The claimant or the claimant's authorized representative entered into a settlement agreement with respect to the claim.
Nothing in this section shall prohibit a minor or a person who is mentally incapacitated from commencing an action under this act within the time limitations contained herein, after reaching majority or returning to mental capacity.
(cf: P.L.2013, c.103, s.133)
4. N.J.S.59:13-5 is amended to read as follows:
59:13-5. It shall be the responsibility of parties contracting with the State to promptly notify the State in writing of any situation or occurrence which may potentially result in the submission of a claim against the State. [Except as otherwise provided in section 6, no notice of claim for breach of contract, either express or implied in fact, shall be filed with the contracting agency later than 90 days after the accrual of such claim. A notice of claim shall include the following information: the name of the claimant, the nature of the claim, specific reasons for making the claim, and the total dollar amount of the claim if known. After the expiration of 90 days from the date the notice of claim is received by the contracting agency, the] A claimant may file suit in a court of competent jurisdiction of the State of New Jersey.
In all contract claims against the State, the claimant shall be forever barred from recovering against the State if:
a. [he fails to notify the appropriate contracting agency within 90 days of accrual of his claim except as otherwise provided in section 6 hereof; or] (Deleted by amendment, P.L. , c. ) (pending before the Legislature as this bill)
b. he fails to file suit within  two years of accrual of his claims or within  one year after completion of the contract giving rise to [paid] the claim, whichever may be later; or
c. the claimant accepts personally or through his agent or legal representative any award, compromise or settlement made by the State of New Jersey.
5. The following sections are repealed:
Section 8 of P.L.1987, c.184 (C.52:32-39);
N.J.S.59:8-3 through N.J.S.59:8-5, N.J.S.59:8-7, and N.J.S.59:8-9 through N.J.S.59:8-11; and
6. This act shall take effect immediately, and apply to any lawsuit filed against a public entity or public employee on or after that effective date.
This bill would eliminate pre-lawsuit, notice of claim requirements for suits filed against any State or local public entity or public employee under the “New Jersey Tort Claims Act,” N.J.S.59:1-1 et seq., or the “New Jersey Contractual Liability Act,” N.J.S.59:13-1 et seq. Under those acts currently, a person with a claim is “forever barred” from recovering against a public entity or employee for failing to timely file a pre-lawsuit, notice of claim with the entity to be named in a potential future suit. See N.J.S.59:8-8 and N.J.S.59:13-5. Such notices would no longer be required, and thus not prevent injured persons from proceeding with lawsuits seeking compensation in appropriate courts of law.