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How Do I File a Governmental Claim

If you have been injured due to the negligence of a City, County or State Employee or injured by a defective condition of a road or highway, you must comply with Tort Claims Act. The California Tort Claims Act is the act that governs filing claims against a government entity. The Tort Claims Act is found in Division 3.6 of the Government Code, Govt. Code §§ 810 et seq.

Statue of Limitations

For Claims “relating to” causes of action for death, injury to person, or injury to personal property, written notice within 180 Days of the incident must be given to the governmental agency before a lawsuit can be filed to allow the governmental agency time to settle the claim.

The failure to present a claim within the 180 days may be excused on a showing of special circumstances; however, you must apply to the public entity for leave to present the claim after the 180 day period.  The application for leave to present the claim must be submitted within a reasonable time (not to exceed 1 year).  The entity has 45 days in which to respond to the application.
The entity must grant the application to present a late claim, if the failure is due to one or more of the following:
  1. mistake, inadvertence, surprise, or excusable neglect (and there has been no prejudice to the entity);
  2. Claimant’s minority status during the entire claim presentation period;
  3. Claimant’s mental or physical incapacity during the entire claim presentation period; and
  4. Claimant’s death during the claim presentation period.(G.C. § 911.6).

Essential Contents of a Governmental Claim

  1. The names and addresses of the claimant and the person to whom  notices are to be sent;
  2. A statement of the “date, place, and other circumstances of the occurrence or transaction”;
  3. A description of the indebtedness, obligation, injury, damage, or loss incurred, as far as they are known when the claim is presented;
  4. The name of the public employee who caused the injury if known;
  5. The name of the public employee who caused the injury, if known; and
  6. The amount claimed, if less than $10,000, on the date the claim is presented or if more than $10,000, no
    dollar amount is to be included presented or, if more than $10,000, no dollar amount is to be included, but the claim must state whether the claim is to be a limited civil case.

Delivery of the Claim

The Claim must be delivered by hand or by U.S. Mail.  A mailed claim is deemed received when the claimant deposits it in the mail in a properly addressed, postage paid, sealed envelope.

What Happens After the Claim is Filed?

Within 20 days after a claim is presented, the public entity may give the claimant written notice of any substantial defects or omissions that prevent the claim from substantially complying with the requirements of G.C. §§91O and
910.2. The entity cannot take action on the claim for 15 days after it provides a notice of insufficiency.  The public entity must act on the claim within 45 days after the claim has been presented. An entity’s failure to take action on a claim within 45 days is a denial of the claim “by operation of law.”

What will the governmental entity do?

The governmental entity has 5 options:

  1. Reject the claim entirely;
  2. Allow it in full;
  3. Allow it in part and reject the balance;
  4. Compromise it,(G.C. §912.6(a)); or
  5. Do nothing, and allow the claim to be denied by operation of law
    (G.C. 912.4(c)).

Need Help Filing a Governmental Claim

Please feel free to contact the San Diego Governmental Claim Lawyers of the Mortlock Law Group for a free consultation.