Yes, you can sue a government for a personal injury if you suffered harm due to negligence by a government entity or employee.
Such instances may include injuries caused by malfunctioning street lights, dangerous conditions on government property, as well as medical malpractice by public healthcare personnel.
You can recover damages arising from your personal injury, although the procedure in suing a government entity is slightly different from a personal injury lawsuit against a private individual or entity.
Read on to learn more about how this type of lawsuit occurs.
How to Sue a Government Entity for a Personal Injury
There are rigid rules and deadlines when filing a personal injury case against a government entity compared to standard personal injury cases. You first have to ascertain whether liability lies at the city, country, state, or federal level. Sometimes, there is a thin line between these, and it is important to consult your attorney before deciding what course of action to take.
Notice of Claim
In most cases, filing and serving a notice of claim is the initial step if you intend to sue a government for a personal injury. Different states have varying requirements for this form, which typically include:
- Details of the parties to the suit
- When, where, and how your injuries occurred
- Description of your injuries and the total damages being sought
Filing a notice of claim is a crucial step, and if you don’t follow the set guidelines, your case may be in jeopardy. After that, you will have to wait for some time, usually 30 to 120 days, before filing the personal injury claim in court.
Suing for Negligence
Upon reception of the notice of claim, the governing entity may opt for an out-of-court settlement or deny the claim altogether. When denied or unable to reach a settlement agreement, you can then proceed to sue for negligence.
For your case to hold water, you’ll have to provide a preponderance of evidence in support of your claim. This includes proving the government entity owed you a duty of care and that duty was breached, leading to your injuries. It is crucial to have as much evidence as possible at this stage to support your claim. Medical records, as well as proper documentation of your injuries, will go a long way when you decide to sue a government entity for your personal injury.
When Does Sovereign Immunity Apply?
The doctrine of sovereign immunity states that you cannot sue a government entity without its consent. This means that under certain circumstances, the government entity could be immune from liability. The legal rule originates from the English legal system where subjects could not sue the King, but it has since evolved to serve the interest of justice in modern society.
As such, many states have waived their immunity if the government entity or its employees were negligent. However, sovereign immunity could apply if your injuries were not caused intentionally.
How Much Can I Recover from My Personal Injury Claim Against a Government Entity?
The amount of compensation you can receive varies depending on the state and the extent of your loss. Calculation of the settlement package considers both economic and non-economic damages which are designed to compensate you for tangible and intangible loss. Take note that punitive damages do not apply when suing a government entity.
Some states also have a cap on the amount you can receive after suffering such an injury. For instance, if you sue the Wisconsin government and win, your damages are capped at a maximum of $250,000.
Statute of Limitations
Like all other personal injury lawsuits, there is a time limit for pursuing claims against a government entity. The legal clock starts ticking from the time you were injured or discovered your injuries. Statutes of limitations are different across the states, and it is essential to take action as soon as the injury occurs, to increase the chances of a favorable outcome.
You’re Not Alone
As intimidating as it may seem, suing a government entity and winning is possible when you find help in an experienced law firm specializing in whatever your individual case involves. You’re not alone and there’s no reason to take this challenge by yourself. Many Lawyers work on contingency fees, which means they don’t get paid until you get paid. So, why not accept assistance from trained professionals?