The Pascack Valley Line commuter train that crashed in Hoboken caused the tragic death of a young lady, Fabiola Bittar de Kroon, leaving behind a husband and toddler.
So far, no other fatalities are reported to have resulted from the crash, much to the relief of our community here in the Pascack Valley.
I am a regular commuter on that train, using it to travel to Court when I have a 9:30 am Court appearance in New York City. I know how the train rolls slowly into Hoboken; how we stand up and make our way to the exits before it comes to a stop so that we can grab the PATH train or ferry that will bring us to Manhattan.
On September 29, 2016, something very different happened. Why? We don’t know yet.
What we do know is that New Jersey Transit is one of the entities responsible for the crash and the death and injuries that resulted.
Most people who are injured are thankful to be alive and focused on healing. Some people might be talking about back or neck pain that they expect to go away soon. Other people, thankfully, have no injury or pain.
At this time, most people on the train or platform are not thinking about lawsuits or lawyers.
However, it is important for the persons who were injured— and their families— to understand that when New Jersey Transit is responsible for an injury, they cannot sit and wait before deciding to bring a lawsuit for injuries.
New Jersey Transit Rail Operations is part of New Jersey Transit, a government entity. Therefore, if the injured commuter is 18 or older, within 90 days of the accident, the injured person must serve a “Notice of Claim” on New Jersey Transit to preserve his or her right to bring a lawsuit against New Jersey Transit.
If the “Notice of Claim” is not served in time, the injured person will most likely be barred from ever bringing the lawsuit against NJ Transit. In very limited circumstances, a person who missed the 90 day deadline can ask a court for permission to file a late “Notice of Claim” within 1 year. (And different rules apply for minors).
NJ Transit reviews the “Notice of Claim” and determines whether to compensate. It has 6 months to review and decide whether or not to compensate. It often sends a request for additional information. A lawsuit cannot be filed until the 6 months are over.
“Notice of Claim” information can be found on the internet; however, it is an area of the law that is set up with traps for people who are not familiar with it. It is best for people to find a lawyer who has experience handling injury cases against New Jersey government agencies.
For you with clear injuries, e.g. a fracture or scarring, you will know that you need to file the “Notice of Claim”.
For you folks with aches and pains, you might be reluctant to do anything, hoping it will all go away. This is something I have seen before – you wait a few months, then make an appointment with an orthopedist to understand why you are still hurting, and then learn that you herniated a disc in your neck as a result of the crash. And then you worry whether you have time to meet with a lawyer and file a “Notice of Claim”. You don’t want to find yourself in that situation.