While local and state governments once enjoyed protection from lawsuits under the doctrine of sovereign immunity, the government can be held liable for personal injuries. If you were injured on public property or in an accident involving a public employee, a skilled personal injury attorney can help you obtain the compensation you deserve. In the meantime, this article is a brief discussion of municipal liability.
Municipal Liability: 101
Government agencies can he held liable for accidents and injuries in a number of ways. If you have been injured in a slip, trip and fall accident at a public park, a government office or other facility, a premises liability lawsuit can be filed against the responsible public entity. Similarly, if you have been injured in an accident with a government owned truck, car or other vehicle being operated by a public employee or government contractor while on official business, you may also have a valid personal injury claim.
In addition, municipal liability claims can also arise from bus and subway accidents, police misconduct/police brutality, medical malpractice occurring at public hospitals, and hazardous conditions (e.g., exploding pipes and manhole covers). In short, a number of legal claims can be brought against government agencies, however, there are fundamental differences between suing the government and suing a private person or business.
In particular, there are strict procedural rules that must be followed. This includes the requirement to file a notice of claim with the appropriate government agency before you file a lawsuit. In New York, for example, you have 90 days from the date of the accident to file a notice of claim. This document simply notifies the government that you have sustained an injury and that you intend to file a lawsuit. The government is given the opportunity to accept or deny your claim; if the claim is denied, which is likely, the lawsuit can proceed.
In the end, pursuing a municipal liability claim can be complicated. In addition to the procedural rules involved, determining which government agency is responsible can be a challenge. Moreover, these cases are similar to other personal injury claims because you must be able to prove that the government was negligent. Ultimately, if you intend to pursue a laibility claim against a public entity, a highly skilled attorney can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.