If you are injured because of the negligence of another person, you generally have the right to pursue compensation against the at-fault party. The same may be true if a government entity is involved, but the process is more complicated and may involve complex rules.
Our personal injury lawyers at Gordon & Partners discuss these types of claims and explain what you need to know before taking legal action. Our consultations are free with no obligations.
Florida Sovereign Immunity Law
Sovereign immunity is a legal principle that a government cannot be sued in order to receive civil remedies, such as monetary damages, from injuries that arise from the performance of official government duties. Sovereign immunity applies to the federal government as well as individual states.
Florida law discusses when the state agrees that it can be held legally and financially accountable for certain torts or personal injuries. The law waives Florida’s sovereign immunity under certain circumstances.
When Government Entities Can Be Sued for an Injury
Florida government entities can be sued for injuries that they are responsible for in some situations. A person who is injured by the state may file a claim against it and pursue compensation if all of the following criteria are met:
- The negligent action, wrongful act or omission was committed by a state employee
- The negligent action, wrongful act or omission caused the victim to suffer loss of property, personal injury or death
- The government employee was acting within the course and scope of employment at the time of the injury
- The victim’s losses can be compensated with money damages
- The government employee would be liable for the resulting injuries if he or she was a private person
The government entities that may be sued include the following:
- Executive departments
- The judicial branch
- County and municipal governments
- State universities
- Companies the state or municipality owns or operates
- Corporations that act for the state or its agents
Limitations on Suing the Government in Florida
Although sovereign immunity may be waived in certain circumstances, there are additional limitations when filing a claim against the government in Florida, including:
- Government employees cannot be held personally liable for the harm they caused unless they acted intentionally to cause the harm. The claim must be filed against the government agency that employed the person who caused the harm, not the individual.
- Punitive damages or pre-judgment interest cannot be awarded in these cases.
- There is a damage cap of $200,000 for one individual or a total of $300,000 for all claims arising from a single incident. If the government entity settles the claim, this cap still applies unless the state legislature specifically authorizes a higher payment amount.
- There are additional limitations for cases filed against law enforcement officers or agencies, public hospitals and other public health agencies and the Florida Space Agency.
How to File a Claim Against the Government
There are a number of procedures and rules that must be followed when making a claim against the government. You must send a written notice of the claim to the appropriate state agency as well as to the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Risk Management. The written notice must describe the date of the alleged injury, the basic facts surrounding it and the alleged losses.
For injury claims, you file the claim in the county where the injury occurred if the entity has an office in that area. Claims against state universities must be filed in the county where the university’s campus is located unless the university has a substantial presence in the county where the injury occurred.
Time Limits for Taking Legal Action
Personal injury claims must be filed within three years of the date of the injury. Wrongful death claims must be filed within two years of the death. There may be additional time limits for actions involving certain entities, such as when an inmate makes a claim against the Florida Department of Corrections.
After the notice is provided, there is a mandatory 180-day investigation period unless the entity formally denies the claim. A lawsuit cannot be filed during this investigation period.
Call Gordon & Partners to Get Started on Your Claim
The knowledgeable West Palm Beach personal injury lawyers from our firm have experience in filing claims against government entities. We are prepared to discuss the complexities of these claims and how we may be able help when you schedule a free legal consultation.
We operate on a contingency fee basis, so there are no upfront fees unless we successfully help you obtain compensation. We are available anytime, day or night.
Contact our offices today by calling 1 (855) 722-2552.