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Compliance With Government Claim Requirements And Late Claim Applications

What is a Government Claim

In most cases you are required to take certain steps before filing a lawsuit against a government entity. The Government Claims Act (Government Code sections 810-996.6) outlines what to do before you can sue a government entity. Submitting a claim is important because a lawsuit might fail if you fail to meet the requirement for government claim submission.

When You Need To File A Government Claim

A Government claim needs to be presented within 6 months. As provided by Government Code “…claim relating to a cause of action for death or for injury to person or to personal property or growing crops shall be presented as provided…not later than six months after the accrual of the cause of action.” (Government Code section 911.2(a)).

It is critical to make sure all requirements for government claim, specifically content of the application and filing fee, are satisfied, for the application to be considered submitted, otherwise, there is a danger to miss the 6-month submission deadline.

A. Content of the Application

The application shall include the following:

  • The name and post office address of the claimant;
  • The post office address to which the person presenting the claim desires notices to be sent;
  • The date, place and other circumstances of the occurrence or transaction which gave rise to the claim asserted;
  • A general description of the indebtedness, obligation, injury, damage or loss incurred so far as it may be known at the time of presentation of the claim;
  • The name or names of the public employee or employees causing the injury, damage, or loss, if known;
  • The amount claimed indicating whether the claim would be a limited civil case or unlimited one

(Government Code section 910, (a) through (f).)

B. $25.00 Filing Fee Requirement

Subject to certain exceptions, generally, Claimants shall pay a filing fee of twenty-five dollars ($25). The time to determine sufficiency, timeliness, or any other aspect of the claim shall begin when the claim is submitted with the filing fee. (Government Code section 905.2(c) and (d)). Failure to submit the filing fee with the application may render it deficient and shall not be considered accepted.

Usually, the application is deemed denied when the public entity board fails or refuses to act on the claim application within 45 days unless the parties agree to extend the time to act (Government Code section 911.6 (c)). But, if the filing fee is missing, the 45 days will not start to run, the 6-month deadline will continue to run, resulting in failure to timely submit a government claim.

Substantial Compliance Doctrine

Even if you have not fully complied with the above-discussed requirement, your claim can still be considered accepted. The claim can still be considered accepted notwithstanding the absence of filing fee, if Claimant substantially complies with the Government Claims Act claims presentation requirements, providing the public entity with sufficient information to allow it to make a thorough investigation of the matter, to facilitate settlement of meritorious claims, to enable the public entity to engage in fiscal planning and to avoid similar liability in the future (Westcon Construction Corp. v. County of Sacramento, (2007) 61 Cal. Rptr. 3d 89, 101.)

Application For Late Government Claim

The Act provides relief for a claimant to still file a suit for damages against a government entity even though the claimant failed to present a claim within six months. Government Code section 911.4 (a) provides that” When a claim that is required by Section 911.2 to be presented not later than six months after the accrual of the cause of action is not presented within that time, a written application may be made to the public entity for leave to present that claim.”

Government Code section 911.4, subdivision (b), The application to present a late claim shall be presented to the public entity as provided in Article 2 (commencing with Section 915) within a reasonable time not to exceed one year after the accrual of the cause of action and shall state the reason for the delay in presenting the claim.

Under Government Code section 911.6, subdivision (b), the board shall grant the application for leave to present a late claim if the person who sustained the alleged injury, damage, or loss was a minor during all of the time specified in Section 911.2 for the presentation of the claim.

However, subdivision (c)(1) of 911.4 provides that in computing the one-year period under subdivision (b) The time during which the person who sustained the alleged injury, damage, or loss as a minor shall be counted, but the time during which he or she is mentally incapacitated and does not have a guardian or conservator of his or her person shall not be counted, which may provide a time of more than 1 year to submit the late government claim.

 

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