Orlando Attorneys for Claims Against Governmental Entities
Generally speaking, if you are the victim of a personal injury accident, you have the right to file a lawsuit against the party whose negligence or wrongdoing caused the accident. However, if the at-fault party is a governmental entity or an employee of the government, the rules and procedures change considerably. If you don’t understand how those rules and procedures are different, you could lose your opportunity to seek compensation for your injuries.
When a governmental actor is involved in litigation, the concept of sovereign immunity becomes an issue. Sovereign immunity is an ancient concept that prevents citizens from seeking redress from the king — or in more modern times, from the government — for injuries, even if the king (or government) is clearly responsible for those injuries.
Fortunately, sovereign immunity no longer provides blanket protection to the government; however, when making a claim against the government, it is imperative for a victim to understand the special rules and procedures that apply. At Bailey Fisher, we understand those rules and procedures and will zealously protect your right to make a claim against a governmental entity and obtain fair compensation for your injury.
What Types of Claims Might I Make Against the Government?
Personal injury accidents occur all the time and may take many forms. A victim could be injured in a car accident, a slip and fall accident, or as the result of a defective product. In the normal course of events, an injured victim has the right to file a personal injury lawsuit against the individual or business whose negligence or wrongdoing caused the accident.
However, if that individual is a government employee, or that business is actually a governmental office or agency, a victim is faced with a claim against a governmental entity. The theory of liability is the same (negligence or wrongful conduct), but because the at-fault party is a governmental entity, the rules of the game change.
Understanding Sovereign Immunity
Centuries ago, the concept of sovereign immunity protected the king from being sued for injuries because the king simply couldn’t possibly do anything wrong. Despite the fact that the right to petition the government for a redress of grievances is actually found within the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the concept of sovereign immunity continues to prevent injured victims from filing lawsuits against the government unless the government has waived its sovereign immunity.
Fortunately for injured victims, the State of Florida has partially waived its right to sovereign immunity for certain causes of action under certain circumstances.
What Types of Claims Can Be Filed Against the Government in Florida?
The State of Florida has waived its right to sovereign immunity for tort claims if all the following apply:
- The claimant’s injury was caused by negligence or a wrongful act or omission.
- The claimant’s losses can be compensated with money damages.
- A private person would have been liable under the same facts and circumstances under the general laws of Florida.
However, there are some limitations that apply to the partial waiver of sovereign immunity, including:
- Government employees cannot be held personally liable for harm, unless the harm was caused intentionally. A victim must file a claim against the governmental agency for which the individual works instead.
- Damages in cases against Florida governmental entities are limited to $200,000 per person or $300,000 total, regardless of the number of surviving family members in the case of a death or the number of governmental entities that may be liable for the injury or death.
- Punitive damages cannot be awarded.
- Interest that accrued before the judgment was made cannot be awarded.
- The state may appeal any resolution of the case.
- Actions against state universities must be brought in the county where the university’s campus is located unless the university has a “substantial presence” in the county where the harm occurred.
Understanding the Notice Requirement
One of the most important differences between pursuing a personal injury lawsuit against a private individual or business and pursuing one against a governmental entity is the notice requirement. If you believe that a government employee or agency is responsible for injuries you sustained in an accident, you must notify the agency involved and the Florida Department of Financial Services of your claim in writing within three years of the date of the incident that gave rise to the claim. If the lawsuit involves a wrongful death, then it must be filed within two years.
From the date of notice, you must wait 180 days before filing an actual lawsuit in order to allow the state to investigate the claim unless the claim is formally denied before the end of the 180-day period. In that case, you may proceed with a lawsuit before the end of the 180-day time period.
Get Help from Experienced Orlando Attorneys for Claims Against Governmental Entities
The Orlando attorneys for claims against governmental entities at Bailey Fisher Law have extensive experience in personal injury cases involving a governmental defendant and are committed to helping people who have suffered serious, often life-changing injuries due to the negligence or wrongdoing of a government employee or agency.
If you or a family member has been seriously injured and you believe that a government employee or agency was responsible for your injuries, we want to help you hold the responsible parties accountable for their negligence and make sure you obtain the compensation you deserve.
Call us at 407-628-2929 or submit our online form today. One of our experienced Orlando attorneys for claims against governmental entities will evaluate your case for free. For viable personal injury cases, we will follow up with the necessary legal action to hold the responsible party accountable for their negligence and recover the financial compensation you deserve for your pain, suffering, and losses.