If you suffer an injury on public property, the city can be liable under specific circumstances. Like many other cases, it depends on the circumstances of each case. City governments are required to establish and maintain a level of safety on public property. Failing to do so could make the government liable for your injuries. However, suing the government is more difficult than suing a company or individual. There are special regulations in place to provide extra protection for government agencies.
If you think you have a valid case, it is best to discuss that case with a legal representative. You have less time to file your lawsuit than you would another entity. In some cases, there are also special procedures that you must follow when filing a lawsuit against a government agency that gives that agency a chance to respond before legal actions are taken.
Liability for government agencies in California is outlined by the California Government Code (GOV) §830-831.8. Essentially, a government agency cannot be sued unless it demonstrates some level of negligence and providing security in areas that it is responsible for. For example, the local wildlife office cannot be sued for people being injured by animals. However, they can be sued for failing to maintain parking lots and roadways.
The key to your case is proving negligence. This can be easier to do in some cases when the organization being sued has clearly defined responsibilities that it is responsible for taking care of.
Filing a Liability Claim against the City
Liability claims against governments function differently than other lawsuits. In essence, it is not a lawsuit until later in the process. Until relatively recently, governments were protected by a concept called sovereign immunity, which essentially said that you cannot hold the government liable for damages. Many local and state governments have done away with those laws and replaced them with a process to manage liability claims without taking direct legal action first. The goal of the system is to give government agencies a chance to respond to liability claims before legal action is needed.
Every government agency has a liability claim form that you and your lawyer can fill out and submit for review. You do not have long to do this as the statute of limitations on government liability claims only lasts six months from the date of the incident, according to California Government Code (GOV) §911.2.
This gives the agency 45 days to respond to your claim to either deny it or accept it. If the claim is denied or the agency does not respond in time, you can file your lawsuit with the court. It may be in your best interest to have a lawyer represent you throughout the entire process. Lawsuits against governments are notoriously complex.
Pursuing Legal Action
It can be a difficult decision to decide whether or not you want to file a lawsuit against the government. The most important thing is that you get the care that you need to make a full recovery. After your accident, start working on your recovery right away. Once you have taken measures to make sure that you are healing and can get your life back on track, think about taking legal action. Do not wait too long to think about legal action since you only have six months to start the process.
One of the benefits of the government’s process for filing claims is that you do not have to begin legal action right away. Most people find lawsuits intimidating even if they are the ones filing. Instead, you can just fill out the government agencies claim form, which is a much less stressful process. If you are worried about how to handle any of this, you can discuss it with a lawyer before you take action. You can have legal help throughout the entire process, which may make managing the next few steps easier and less stressful for you.
Contact Us for a Consultation
If you suffer an injury on public property, the city can be held liable under specific circumstances. City governments are now held to many of the same standards as citizens or companies thanks to changes in the law. With this in mind, you can take legal action against the city if you have a viable case.
Since every case is unique, some victims choose to hire legal representation to help pursue fair compensation. Contact the offices of Pintas & Mullins Law Firm at (800) 223-5115 to discuss your case.