Sovereign Immunity And Personal Injury Lawsuits
Injuries can occur anywhere and may be caused by a variety of people, including employees of a municipal or state government. The law places some limitations on suing a government body, and in some cases shortens the amount of time in which a claim may be filed. Nevertheless, there are situations in which an injured person is allowed to sue the government for personal injury.
Generally, a person cannot sue the state of Florida or its subdivisions without the government’s permission, or waiver of its sovereign immunity. This sovereign immunity is granted under the Florida Constitution and can only be waived by the passing of a general law. Florida passed this law in 1972, allowing lawsuits against the government for financial losses or personal injury (including wrongful death) caused by the negligent acts or omissions, or wrongdoing of a government employee in the course of his employment. The law therefore allows a person to sue the government as he or she would sue another person. The injured party still has to prove the claim as with any other lawsuit. The injured person has to prove that the government owed him a duty of care, and did something that breached this duty and caused him harm.
Filing A Notice Of Claim
In order to bring a lawsuit against a government body, the injured person generally has to first file a notice of claim with the Florida Department of Financial Services and with the state agency involved. No special form is required, and the notice may be done by writing a letter describing the incident that led to the injury. The notice of claim has to be filed within three years of the incident causing the injuries, and two years if the lawsuit is for wrongful death. After the notice of claim is filed, the government organization or agency being sued is given some time to investigate the claim, and thereafter can either deny the claim or offer to settle. A denial of the claim means that the agency intends to defend against the claim when sued in court.
When suing the government, the government employee who caused the injuries cannot be held personally liable, unless he or she acted in bad faith, maliciously, or in a way that showed a disregard for human rights, safety or property. Note that the government cannot be sued for punitive damages even if other damages are awarded.
There are some injuries that may result as a result of government employee action that may still not lead to recovery. These are injuries that are a result of what a judge or jury characterizes as policy decisions. If the activity or conduct that caused the injury is based on government policy, and is an integral part of policy, then it becomes more difficult to win in a lawsuit against the government.
Contact a Clearwater Personal Injury Attorney
If you or a loved one suffered a personal injury due to the actions of a government employee, you have a limited time to file your claim. Contact the experienced personal injury attorneys at Roman & Roman, P.A. for a consultation today.