Premises Liability: State Government Immunity Laws

Premises liability refers to any accident that occurs on another person’s property and who can be found “at-fault” for said injury. For instance, say that you are walking around in a restaurant and you slip on something and break a bone because of it. If there was no wet floor sign, the restaurant could be found liable for your injuries. But what happens when the government owns the property? Do things change as it applies to your ability to sue?

In all premises liability cases, you need to be able to prove the elements of negligence. These include duty, breach, causation, and damages. A duty is owed to you if you wander onto a business property. This means that the owner must keep the premises safe and eliminate all dangers that could cause you harm. When a breach occurs, this means that somebody did not exercise the proper amount of care. Causation is when you must prove that the property owner did not take reasonable care and this action or inaction led to your injury. And, of course, damages are harm and losses stemming from the accident like medical bills, loss of work, pain and suffering, and more.

What is Sovereign Immunity?

Think of all the ways in which you can be injured on government property. For one, local government entities are sometimes responsible for a change in a road’s surface or traffic flow when roadwork is being performed. If a serious accident ensues, it may be the fault of the government entity. Sovereign Immunity establishes complete immunity of the government from being sued and found liable in a lawsuit. This is a concept that has been used for years; however, as of recent times, it is becoming more difficult to use this immunity in many situations.

The Federal Tort Claims Act

In 1946, something known as The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) came to be. Before this act was enacted, the federal government had complete immunity and could never be sued when one of its employees sustained a personal injury, wrongful death, or property damage. However, it must be proven that somebody was working within his or her scope of employment when the accident occurred, so the employee must have been serving a governmental purpose.

Under the FTCA, an employee is guaranteed only money damages of a certain amount. An individual must also make his or her claim in writing within two year’s time after it becomes apparent that a cause of action exists. A claim against the government should always be done before a lawsuit comes into play. You do not want your suit to be dismissed.

The fact of the matter is this: If the government knew about an issue and did not take reasonable care to solve the issue, then a lawsuit could result from this.

There are many ways to protect yourself if you have been injured due to the negligence of a government entity. You may be entitled to monetary damages. Call Maggiano, DiGirolamo & Lizzi today for more information regarding your case.