What happens if you find yourself sustaining an injury from a defect of a public sidewalk or roadway? What if you were injured due to a road’s surface or traffic flow due to an excavation? Lastly, what if you find yourself in a situation where a traffic light or sign has malfunctioned, and you are injured as a result? Who is held liable? You may assume off the bat that the governmental unit responsible for maintaining the road or walkways would be held responsible for your injuries.
What Is Sovereign Immunity?
Sovereign immunity is what establishes complete immunity of the government from being used and being found liable in a lawsuit. So, if you do sustain a personal injury and want to take up a claim, this could essentially protect the government. Over the years, State and Federal governments have reduced this broad immunity so that it can be limited in some situations.
Understanding The Federal Tort Claims Act
Furthermore, there is something known as the Federal Tort Claims Act. Congress enacted this act in 1946 as a way to allow individuals to recover compensation against the federal government for personal injury, wrongful death, and property damage caused by the negligence of a federal employee. Before that, the federal government could not be sued for these things unless there was a specific act of Congress explicitly authorizing it.
Under the FTCA, only money damages of a specific amount can be awarded. The substantive law of the state where the act occurred will determine the government’s liability. Another thing that an individual has to keep in mind that there are strict deadlines to be met if they are wishing to go through with a claim, which are outlined below.
In most cases, depending on the state where one lives, a written notice must be filed within two years of when the incident occurs – however, there are some states that only permit notice as short as 30 days. Acting quickly is key. A formal notice of injury must generally be filed with the proper governmental agency. It will typically include your name and address, the date of the injury, a precise summary of how the injury occurred, a statement in which you claim that the government entity was negligent, your allegation to the negligence, a description of your injuries, and a description of your medical bills and other financial losses to date.
Another thing to keep in mind is making sure that the notice gets sent to the correct government office. If you send your notice to the wrong office, it could immediately be barred because the government is very strict on making sure that the notice is received by the proper division. You may want to take the necessary steps to contact the administrative offices of the relevant municipality related in your case. A personal injury attorney would be able to help you through this process as well as making the correct calls to make sure that things are taken care of.
At Maggiano, DiGirolamo, & Lizzi, we will work with you to make sure that you meet the tight deadlines of filing a notice if you are injured in a government entity case. We can answer any and all questions you might have and walk you through the process to make sure you receive the compensation you deserve.