Recently, the Arizona Daily Sun, reported that a Coconino County Sheriff’s deputy was involved in a vehicle versus pedestrian accident in Page, Arizona while on duty. Specifically, the paper reported that the unnamed deputy had the right of way but hit a pedestrian in the crosswalk.
Public Entity Liability – Notice of Claim
The pedestrian, a 61 year old woman, was not significantly injured. The deputy was cited for failing to exercise due care and is waiting to see if the Sheriff’s Department will take disciplinary action. Read the full Arizona Daily Sun article here.
This case is a clear example of public entity liability. Under Arizona law, public entities and public employees are responsible for their conduct. In this case: Coconino County, Coconino County Sheriff’s Department and the unnamed deputy can be sued for negligence and negligence per se. In essence the deputy and his employer can be sued for causing the accident. However, in order to sue the government and its employees you must strictly comply with A.R.S. § 12-831.01(A), the Notice of Claim Statute or you may be barred from filing a lawsuit in the future.
The Notice of Claim statute establishes the procedures a person must follow before they file a lawsuit against a public entity or employee.
Before you file a lawsuit, you must file a Notice of Claim with the proper agency. A Notice of Claim is a statutory policy of holding public entity and public employees responsible for their acts or omissions by establishing a procedure to follow to perfect a notice of claim and a subsequent lawsuit. A notice of claim allows the public entity/employee to investigate and assess liability for the claim and allow the possibility of settlement prior to litigation. Therefore, as a prerequisite to a lawsuit, a person must file a Notice of Claim within 180 days after the accrual of the claim. Specifically A.R.S. § 12-821.01(A) states:
A. Persons who have claims against a public entity or a public employee shall file claims with the person or persons authorized to accept service for the public entity or public employee as set forth in the Arizona rules of civil procedure within one hundred eighty days after the cause of action accrues. The claim shall contain facts sufficient to permit the public entity or public employee to understand the basis on which liability is claimed. The claim shall also contain a specific amount for which the claim can be settled and the facts supporting that amount. Any claim that is not filed within one hundred eighty days after the cause of action accrues is barred and no action may be maintained thereon.
The Notice of Claim statute also governs the timeliness of filing the Notice, when the cause of action accrues, what the Notice needs to contain and whom must the Notice must be served on. After a Notice of Claim is filed a lawsuit against the public entity or public employee must be filed within one year. Thus, the statute of limitations against any public entity or public employee is one year of the date when the person knew or should have known they were hurt.
If you have been injured by the negligence of a public entity or public employee you have to comply with the Notice of Claim Statute in order to proceed with a lawsuit. If you or a loved one has been injured by the negligence of a public entity or public employee, contact the Law Office of Gonzales and Poirier at 928-774-5400. We offer free consultation and can discuss how the Notice of Claim statute applies to your case. We have offices located in Flagstaff and Cottonwood and we serve all the communities of Northern Arizona.