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Can I Sue NYS DOT For Getting Hurt?

The New York State Department of Transportation (NYS DOT) helps get millions of people from place to place every single day. However, all of that traffic means it’s easy for certain safety protocols or procedures to fall through the cracks, sometimes leading to serious injuries.

If you or a loved one have been injured on NYS DOT property or because of the negligence of the DOT, you might be able to sue them for damages. Read on to learn more, or contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers directly online or at 516-342-2200 for a free consultation.

What Is The NYS DOT?

The NYS DOT is one of the most important organizations for the state and the entire eastern seaboard. In fact, the DOT oversees (456) public and private aviation facilities, which themselves allow (31) million people to travel each year. Aside from this, millions of people rely on the NYS DOT’s transportation systems and infrastructure, such as transportation buses, trains, and more.

The NYS DOT also handles transportation safety, maintenance, and management matters. For example, whenever there’s a pothole in the road, the DOT is usually responsible for filling it in or resolving the safety issue, either personally or by hiring contractors.

In short, the NYS DOT facilitates widespread travel in transit throughout New York and beyond. If you’ve ever used public transportation facilities or flown in or out of New York, you’ve interacted with the NYS DOT!

What Types Of Injuries Can Occur From NYS DOT Accidents?

Unfortunately, the hustle and bustle of people at NYS DOT facilities and the kind of equipment involved with widespread transportation make injuries inevitable. It’s possible for you or a loved one to experience a variety of accidents and incidents while on NYS DOT property, including but not limited to:

  • Slip and fall accidents, either because of hazards or debris or because of slippery surfaces
  • Traumatic head injuries, which can occur if something falls on you or if you bump your head on something by accident
  • Broken bones and lacerations from being impacted by vehicles or experiencing other accidents

Depending on the extent of your injuries, you might find that you have to pay thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to cover everything. In these instances, you may not be able to afford medical treatment by yourself, so you may have no choice but to sue the NYS DOT if it is partially liable for your injuries.

Is It Possible To Sue The Nys Dot For Injuries?

Although it is possible, the government intentionally makes it difficult for people to sue government institutions, organizations, and employees. The purpose of this is to discourage frivolous lawsuits that don’t really matter or that would otherwise clog up the legal system.

However, you are allowed to sue the NYS DOT for injuries if:

  • You can prove that the NYS DOT is directly liable or responsible for the injuries you sustained on their property or while using their services
  • You sue the NYS DOT before the statute of limitations is up

Specifically, you can sue the DOT for up to$5,000 maximum in small claims court. You can also sue the DOT for much larger settlements with the assistance of experienced attorneys like Schwartzapfel Lawyers.

You cannot sue the NYS DOT for injuries if:

  • You are 100% responsible for your injuries. For example, if you were to jump in front of a moving bus operated by the NYS DOT, traffic records and eyewitness accounts would prove this, and you would not be able to recover compensation
  • Your injury took place off NYS DOT property and through no action of one of the DOT’s employees. In other words, there has to be a provable connection between your injuries and the NYS DOT for a lawsuit to be viable

Since this can become located, it helps to contact knowledgeable attorneys if you have questions about your lawsuit options, the likelihood of a lawsuit succeeding, and more. To learn more, get in touch with Schwartzapfel Lawyers today online or at 516-342-2200.

What Do You Need For A Lawsuit?

In order to successfully sue the NYS DOT, you must fulfill three (3) core requirements.

Negligence From The NYS DOT

First, you must prove that the Department of Transportation was negligent and, more importantly, that the negligence directly led to any injuries you sustained.

Negligence means:

  • The DOT had a duty to provide you with a certain level of care (this is implied and often outright stated whenever you use the DOT’s services or roads)
  • The DOT violated that duty to provide you with a certain level of care
  • The violation directly led to your injuries

Let’s return to an example of a pothole in the road. Imagine that you are following all the rules of the road, and you and another driver collide head-on because of a major pothole right in the center of the road, which causes your car to swerve unexpectedly.

In this instance, the DOT had a duty to either fill in the pothole or provide sufficient warning that the pot was present. If the DOT did neither of these things, it could be found liable for the injuries you and the other driver sustained, as well as potential property damage.

File The Lawsuit Before The Statute Of Limitations Expires

Because filing a lawsuit against the NYS DOT is different from filing a lawsuit against a private party, you have to abide by the specific statute of limitations requirements.

Specifically, you must notify the DOT with a Notice of Claimwithin (90) days of the incident. The Notice of Claim tells the DOT that you intend to sue it because of a specific incident. The DOT then has (30) days to investigate the matter and offer you a settlement.

If you refuse the settlement, you must file your lawsuit against the DOT within one (1) year and (90) days of the accident. Compared to the average statute of limitations for personal injury claims — three (3) years — this is very quick. As such, it’s wise to get in touch with attorneys right away so you can go over your legal options and prepare lawsuit paperwork for you if necessary.

What Happens If You Are Partially Responsible For Your Injuries?

The NYS DOT may claim that you are partially responsible for your injuries. If this is true, and the court finds you to be partially responsible, your damage award might be affected by rules of pure comparative negligence.

Pure comparative negligence states that two (2) parties in an incident can be both partially responsible for injuries or damages. So, if you are found to be 40% responsible for the injuries sustained on DOT property or because of a DOT incident, your damages might be reduced by 40%.

Maximizing Damages from a Lawsuit Against NYS DOT

Still, it’s possible to maximize the damages you may receive from an NYS DOT lawsuit. The best way to do that is:

  • Work with experienced attorneys like Schwartzapfel Lawyers. Try to find attorneys who practice in the same area as your case. For example, if you were in an auto accident caused by the NYS DOT, you’ll want to speak to auto accident attorneys, who can represent you in court, tell you what to wear, and provide other help. With their assistance, you may not feel as overwhelmed or stressed
  • Gather as much evidence as possible. The more evidence you can prove that the NYS DOT was negligent or responsible for your injuries, the more likely it is that the DOT will be found to be totally or mostly responsible for those injuries
  • File your lawsuit quickly. The longer it takes for you to file your lawsuit, the more the DOT can delay your legal action, making it difficult to get any monetary award whatsoever

Note that it also might be wise to accept a settlement from the DOT depending on the circumstances of your case and the projected timeline. Your attorney might recommend accepting the settlement so you can pay for your medical bills if any damage award you might receive from a full lawsuit will probably be roughly similar to the settlement amount.

Contact Schwartzapfel Lawyers Today

If you or a loved one have been injured because of the negligence of the NYS DOT, you could have grounds for a successful lawsuit, particularly with knowledgeable attorneys on your side. Schwartzapfel Lawyers attorneys are well-equipped and ready to help your case, so contact us today for a free case evaluation online or at 516-342-2200.

DISCLAIMER: Nothing on this page should be considered legal advice. You should seek the appropriate counsel your situation requires. For more information, call 1-516-342-2200 now!


Schwartzapfel Lawyers P.C. | Fighting For You


Small Claims | New York Department of Transportation

What Is Negligence? Definition & Examples | Forbes Advisor


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