Injury claims against Rhode Island Towns and Cities: Notice required?

by JOSHUA R KARNS on Aug. 04, 2022

Accident & Injury Personal Injury Accident & Injury  Slip & Fall Accident 

Summary: If you were injured in Rhode Island there is a 3 year statute of limitations to bring your case in court or else you will be barred forever from doing so. However, if your injury occurred on a public street and you are claiming that it was caused by a dangerous condition you must act much faster. This article details the crucial notice that you must give to a Rhode Island city or town where you were injured pursuant to R.I. Gen. Laws § 45-15-9.

R.I. Gen. Laws § 45-15-9

If you were injured as a result of a defect or dangerous condition on a public street in Rhode Island you must give them a detailed notice or your injury. 

(a) A person so injured or damaged shall, within sixty (60) days, give to the town by law obliged to keep the highway, causeway, or bridge in repair, notice of the time, place, and cause of the injury or damage; and if the town does not make just and due satisfaction, within the time prescribed by § 45-15-5, the person shall, within three (3) years after the date of the injury or damage, commence his or her action against the town treasurer for the recovery of damages, and not thereafter.

The notice must be in writing

"'The notice required by § 45-15-9 shall be in writing, signed by the person injured or damaged, or by someone in the person's behalf, and shall be presented to the town council of the town or to the city council of the city; * * * .'…" Connor v. Napolitano, 706 A.2d 1333 (R.I. 1998)

You have 60 days from the day you were injured

"This Court has stated that the notice required by § 45-15-9 is a jurisdictional condition precedent to bringing suit, and if a plaintiff fails to give such notice in a timely manner, the action must be dismissed because the Superior Court's jurisdiction has not been invoked properly." Provost v. Finlay, 768 A.2d 1256 (R.I. 2001)

The notice must be sufficient

"Although, the notice need not fix the exact location of the defect, it must describe the locale in a reasonably sufficient manner." Prout v. City of Providence, 996 A.2d 1139 (R.I. 2010)

"Accordingly, when a notice of claim fails to provide substantial certainty about the time and place of the injury and the character and nature of the defect that caused it, a suit for failure to maintain the property cannot be preserved." Prout v. City of Providence, 996 A.2d 1139 (R.I. 2010)

Send the notice to the council via the clerk

"Any notice required by §§ 45-15-9 and 45-15-10 should be mailed to or served upon the town or city clerk." Connor v. Napolitano, 706 A.2d 1333 (R.I. 1998)

"One who is required to give notice to a city or town council should do so by sending the notice to the city or town clerk whose function it is to keep the records of the council and to receive communications and notices on its behalf." Connor v. Napolitano, 706 A.2d 1333 (R.I. 1998)

If you have been injured as a result of a defect or dangerous condition on a public street in Rhode Island it is important to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will have to determine who owns the property and if the 60 day notice is required. They will then have to prepare the notice and deliver it to the town or city clerk within 60 days.

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