If you are hurt by another person’s negligence, then you may be able to file a lawsuit against them. But what happens if the person who harmed you is a government employee? Can you sue your city or town for your losses?
Government agencies are generally protected from lawsuits through a principle known as sovereign immunity. However, in limited circumstances, you can sue a local California municipality through the California Tort Claims Act (CTCA). Through this type of lawsuit, you can recover compensation for your losses, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more.
Claims against a public entity have different rules than other types of personal injury lawsuits. A skilled California personal injury attorney can help you with the process. At the Kuvara Law Firm, we have significant experience representing injury victims with claims against local municipalities and government agencies. Reach out today to schedule a free consultation with a member of our team.
When Can I Sue a Local California Municipality for My Injuries?
As a general rule, government entities – including cities and towns – are protected from lawsuits by sovereign immunity. In California, the CTCA allows injury victims to sue the government in limited circumstances. To do so, you must file a strict claims process.
You may be able to file a lawsuit against a local municipality under the CTCA if you are hurt by the negligence of a government employee. The CTCA covers a range of personal injury claims, including:
- Car accidents;
- Slip and falls/premises liability;
- Bus accidents;
- Medical malpractice;
- Train accidents; and
- Pedestrian accidents.
If you were hurt in an accident that was caused by something that a government employee did (or failed to do), then you may be able to pursue a claim against one or more public agencies. For example, if a city employee hit you while you were riding your bike, you could file a claim against the municipality for their worker’s negligence.
A local municipality can be held responsible for the actions of its workers if the employee was acting within the scope of their employment or carrying out some government function. If you were hurt by a government employee who was not at work and doing personal business, then you probably cannot sue your city or town.
In some cases, you may be able to file a lawsuit against a government agency for failure to carry out a legal duty. For example, if you are in a car crash that was caused by the failure of the public works department to maintain the road properly, you may be able to file a claim under the CTCA.
However, the CTCA does not allow claims for most other reasons. You cannot file a lawsuit against the city council for failing to pass a regulation, for example, or against the city clerk for refusing to issue a license to you. A California personal injury attorney can help you determine if your potential claim against a government agency falls within the CTCA.
What Kinds of Damages Can I Get in a CTCA Claim?
In a typical personal injury case, you may be entitled to recover three types of damages: economic, non-economic, and punitive. Under the CTCA, punitive damages are not authorized.
You may still recover economic and non-economic damages (compensation). Economic damages are intended to compensate you for direct financial losses, such as lost wages, medical expenses, future medical treatment, property damage, and future medical treatment. Non-economic damages cover intangible losses, like emotional distress, pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, and scarring or disfigurement.
A California personal injury lawyer can give you a rough estimate of the value of your case. There are a number of factors that influence how much your case is worth, including whether liability is clear, the nature of your injuries, and how badly you were hurt.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Sue a Local Municipality?
CTCA claims follow a different process than other types of personal injury cases. A lawyer can make sure that you follow these procedures so that you get the compensation that you are entitled to under the law.
To file a claim against a local municipality, you will need to give notice of your claim within 6 months of the accident. Each government agency has a different process for giving notice, which may be as simple as filling out a claim form or sending a letter with all of the necessary information. If you do not include all of the required information or file in a timely manner, your claim may be denied.
Under the CTCA, your claim notice must include:
- Your name and mailing address;
- The address where you want notices to be sent;
- The date, place, and other circumstances that gave rise to the claim;
- A description of your losses;
- The name of the public employee or employees who caused your injuries;
- The amount claimed, if under $10,000; if greater than $10,000, but less than $25,000, you must indicate that the claim is a limited civil case.
These claim and notice requirements are strict. If you do not include all of the required information, it may affect your ability to recover money for your injuries. A seasoned personal injury lawyer will make sure that your claim form is filled out properly and submitted on time.
In some cases, the government agency will settle your claim after the notice is filed. However, if they do not offer fair compensation, you may need to file a personal injury lawsuit. In this situation, you will need an attorney to pursue the claim on your behalf. Your lawyer will aggressively advocate for your right to compensation – and help you get the money that you deserve for your losses.
The Kuvara Law Firm has significant experience with all types of personal injury cases – including claims involving a government entity. For each client, we put together a strong claim notice to increase the likelihood of the government offering a settlement. If we cannot negotiate a settlement, then we will follow the procedures set forth under the CTCA for a lawsuit against a local municipality.
For more than 40 years, our legal team has helped people just like you get the money that they deserve for their injuries. We aren’t afraid to take on big insurance companies or the government. Our goal is to help you achieve justice, whether you are suing a city government, an individual, or a business.
What Happens After a Claim Is Filed Under the CTCA?
After you file a claim against a local municipality, the public agency typically has 45 days to respond. The agency may reject the claim, approve it in whole or part, request more information, or fail to respond (which means that the claim is rejected). If your claim is rejected, you can file a petition with a local court asking to be relieved from the claims requirement.
The process of suing a local California municipality can be complicated and requires you to submit all paperwork within specific deadlines. A California personal injury lawyer can take on the government for you – and help you get maximum compensation for your injuries. Contact the Kuvara Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation.
Can I Sue the Police for My Injuries?
You may be able to file a claim against the police under the CTCA. Law enforcement agencies may be sued if one of their employees injures you, such as in a car accident. Like other types of claims against the government, however, there are specific rules that must be followed when seeking compensation for your losses.
If you believe that you may have a government claim, then the first and most important step to take is to schedule a free consultation with a California personal injury law firm. There, you can learn more about your rights and get a better understanding of whether you are able to pursue a claim.
Can I Sue If I Slip and Fall on Government Property?
Possibly. If the government owns or controls the property, then you may be able to file a claim against the city or two if you were injured in a fall. However, you must be able to prove that:
- There was a dangerous condition at the time that you fell; and
- The danger was created by the negligence of a public employee; or
- The public entity either had notice of the condition or should have known about it, and failed to correct it or protect you from harm.
If you believe that your city or town was negligent in some way, causing your injuries, then you may be able to file a government claim under the CTCA. A seasoned California personal injury attorney can help you with the process, starting with a free initial consultation.
How We Can Help
If you have been hurt in an accident, you may not know what to do next – especially if the person who hurt you works for your local municipality. Our law firm can guide you through the process of filing a claim against your city, town, or county. We will take on the paperwork and negotiations for you – so that you can focus on getting better.
Based in San Rafael, the Kuvara Law Firm has offices throughout Northern California to meet your needs. We offer free initial consultations, and never charge a fee unless we recover money for you. To learn more or to schedule an appointment with a California personal injury attorney, give us a call at 415-479-7070 or fill out our online contact form.