California Government Code Sections 910

A claim is a notice that complies with Government Code sections 910 and 910.2. (Phillips v. Desert Hospital Dist. (1989) 49 Cal.3d 699, 707.) Section 910 requires a claim to set forth all of the following: (1) "the name and post office address of the claimant"; (2) "the post office address to which the person presenting the claim desires notices to be sent"; (3) "the date, place and other circumstances of the occurrence or transaction which gives rise to the claim asserted"; (4) "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"; (5) "the name or names of the public employee or employees causing the injury, damage, or loss, if known"; (6) "the amount claimed if it totals less than $10,000 as of the date of presentation of the claim, including the estimated amount of any prospective injury, damage, or loss, insofar as it may be known at the time of the presentation of the claim, together with the basis of computation of the amount claimed. If the amount claimed exceeds $10,000, no dollar amount shall be included in the claim. However, the claimant must indicate whether the claim would be a limited civil case." The claimant or some person on the claimant's behalf must sign the claim. ( 910.2.) The purpose of requiring a plaintiff to submit a pre-lawsuit claim to the public entity is not to prevent surprise, but to give "the entity an opportunity to promptly remedy the condition giving rise to the injury, thus minimizing the risk of similar harm to others"; permit "the public entity to investigate while tangible evidence is still available, memories are fresh, and witnesses can be located"; and permit "early assessment by the public entity, allowing its governing board to settle meritorious disputes without incurring the added cost of litigation, and giving it time to engage in appropriate budgetary planning." (Shirk v. Vista Unified School Dist. (2007) 42 Cal.4th 201, 213.) "Where a claimant has attempted to comply with the claim requirements but the claim is deficient in some way, the doctrine of substantial compliance may validate the claim 'if it substantially complies with all of the statutory requirements . . . even though it is technically deficient in one or more particulars.'" (Connelly v. County of Fresno (2006) 146 Cal.App.4th 29, 38.) Substantial compliance is at least some compliance with each of the statutory requirements. (Del Real v. City of Riverside (2002) 95 Cal.App.4th 761, 769.) However, "the doctrine of substantial compliance . . . 'cannot cure a total omission of an essential element from the claim or remedy a plaintiff's failure to comply meaningfully with the statute.'" (Connelly, at p. 38.) A "claim as presented" is a claim that is defective in that it fails to comply substantially with sections 910 and 910.2, but nonetheless puts the public entity on notice the claimant is attempting to file a valid claim and litigation will result if it is not resolved. (Alliance Financial v. City and County of San Francisco (1998) 64 Cal.App.4th 635, 643.) "A document constitutes a 'claim as presented' . . . if it discloses the existence of a' claim' which, if not satisfactorily resolved, will result in a lawsuit against the entity." (Phillips v. Desert Hospital Dist., supra, 49 Cal.3d at p. 709.) A claim as presented triggers a duty on the part of the governmental entity to notify the claimant of defects in the claim. A failure to notify the claimant of deficiencies waives any defense as to its sufficiency. (Phillips v. Desert Hospital Dist., supra, 49 Cal.3d at p. 709; 910.8, 911.)