When you’re involved in an accident that results in an injury, it is generally pretty simple to determine who is at fault. It is easy enough to seek legal action against someone who ran a red light and hit your car or a store whose lack of a “Wet Floor” sign caused you to slip and fall, but it is easy to become confused about your legal options when you’ve been injured because of your city or county’s negligence.
Can you sue a county or city for negligence?
Yes, you absolutely can. Your contact with government issued and maintained properties is actually far more common than you would think. Cities and counties employ a large amount of people, people who then drive government issued vehicles. They also maintain facilities that people visit on a daily basis.
If you are involved in an accident with a government vehicle or slip and fall on government property, you may be able to argue that the city or county was negligent and therefore liable for your injury.
What do I do if I was injured?
The process for making a personal injury claim against a city or county is much the same as making a personal injury claim against a person or entity. You may not have as much time to file a lawsuit against the government as you would against a person or private business because the government has its own set of laws about personal injury claims.
You will have to prove that the city or county involved in the accident was negligent. In order to do this, you must prove that the government owed a duty to you, the plaintiff. In the case of a slip and fall accident, the duty to the plaintiff is that the government was expected to provide reasonably safe conditions on their property. Then the plaintiff must prove that the government breached that duty by failing to provide those conditions. The next step is providing evidence that the plaintiff’s injury is a direct result of that breach of duty. Finally, the plaintiff must show that the injuries sustained resulted in damages such as medical bills, lost wages, disability, or any other consequences for which they can be compensated.
You’ll need to provide names of any witnesses to the injury, copies of medical reports and bills, and estimates of the damages sustained. A lawyer can help you to compile this evidence in order to bring forth a case.
It is important to remember that:
- Governments often have caps on the settlements that they can issue to a plaintiff
- Your timeline to file a claim is shorter than it would be with a private entity.
- There are certain administrative hoops you may have to jump through. Be sure to look at your city and county’s guidelines closely.
If you’re looking to sue a country or city for negligence after suffering from an injury, you can hire a personal injury lawyer DC offers to assist you.
Thank you to our friends and contributors at Cohen & Cohen, P.C. for their insight into personal injury claims and negligence.