Can I Sue the Government for a Personal Injury?
Accidents with government entities happen all the time. However, under the doctrine of sovereign immunity, these entities are generally protected from lawsuits. So what happens when a police officer runs a red light and t-bones you? What if a state-run hospital fails to properly diagnose you, causing irreparable harm to your body? Or what if you are in a United States Postal Office and you fall through a faulty wooden step on a stairwell? These are common questions that injured victims ask. Although local, county, state, and federal governmental entities are generally protected from suit, many of these entities have enacted laws that subject them to suit if the entity itself acted negligently and caused a personal injury to occur.Claims Against the Government
Claims against governmental entities are often complex and require a substantive understanding of the law along with knowledge of strict deadlines and filing requirements. One false step in pursing your claim against a government entity could bar you from recovering for any injuries you have sustained, including bodily harm and property damage. Most government entities have their own process, procedures, and rules that must be followed in order to assert a successful claim. Here are examples:
- Tennessee Government Entities:
- These claims are handled pursuant to the Tennessee Governmental Tort Liability Act. Under Tennessee law, those injured due to the negligent actions of another person have one (1) year to settle their claim or file a lawsuit against the at fault party. Here, it is the same government entities. The real change is the amount an injured party is able to recover. Tennessee injured parties are able to recover up to $750,000 in non-economic damages and up to $1 million in catastrophic losses, subject to certain exceptions. Punitive damages are awarded up to two times an injured party’s compensatory damages or $500,000. In a lawsuit against a Tennessee government entity, damages capped up to $300,000.
- Mississippi Government Entities:
- Under Mississippi law, people who have suffered from an injury due to the negligence of another person generally have three (3) years to settle their personal injury claim or file a lawsuit in the appropriate court. However, if a Mississippi government entity is involved, that statute of limitations is lessened to one (1) year. There are also strict notice requirements in terms of public officials and the county. Identifying all possible defendants at the beginning of the case is critical. For example, if you were rear-ended in a car accident in Jackson, and the at-fault driver was operating a vehicle registered to Hinds County, these special considerations will apply. Under the Mississippi Tort Claims Act, damage caps are in place as well.
- Federal Government Entities
- In order to sue the federal government, you must first file a claim within two years of the date of accident under the Federal Tort Claims Act. The claim must be filed with the government agency that caused the accident. For instance, if a Federal Bureau of Prisons’ officer crashed into to your vehicle, you will have to file the claim with the Federal Bureau of Prisons. After submitting your claim, the agency has six months to issue a ruling on your claim. If you are unhappy with their response, you then have six months to file a lawsuit in the appropriate district court. Damages are usually measured based on state law. However, much like most claims against government entities, punitive damages are not allowed.
Our personal injury and auto accident attorneys are available 24/7 for a free case evaluation by calling 800-529-4004 or completing this online form. If you or a loved one has been injured due to the negligence of a government entity, it is highly recommended you contact a personal injury attorney to ensure all of your rights are protected. Highly technical requirements will be in place, as each government entity case is full of procedural steps and process that must be followed. Failure to follow the proper protocol could result in a denial of your claim. Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz is a large regional personal injury firm, serving those throughout Tennessee, Mississippi, Arkansas, Missouri, and Kentucky. Many of our clients have come from cities like Memphis, Nashville, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Jackson, Tupelo, Oxford, Starkville, Meridian, Jonesboro, Little Rock, Sikeston, Cape Girardeau, Hayti, and Paducah. NST is the way to go.