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Injuries Involving the Government

Injuries more often occur between private citizens or involve businesses, than due to negligence by the government. Civilian and commercial negligence cases tend to be more straightforward than those involving government entities. When the government is a named defendant, the skill of an experienced personal injury lawyer is very important for positive outcome for this type of complex case.

Liability of the Government

Government-related accidents occur similarly to any other accident. As an example, someone walking on a poorly maintained park sidewalk is on government property and may be equally injured as someone who slips and falls inside a business. Government employees often have assigned vehicles and may be involved in an auto accident in their work vehicle. City-owned swimming pools are frequently the scene of accidents. Veterans’ hospitals may employ a doctor who committed medical malpractice on one of the veteran patients.

Such cases are different, in that individuals are not implicated as responsible for injuries suffered by victims. Instead, the government is responsible.

Immunity of the Government

In many cases involving the government, civil plaintiffs have to overcome the hurdle of government immunity. Some instances may restrict the majority of claims due to far-reaching immunity. This immunity is under the U.S. Constitution, state laws and other decisions made by higher courts. Some states have laws prohibiting victims from suing for accidents such as slip and fall injuries from residual snow or ice at public recreation facilities.

The government must agree to be sued when immunity is in place. For such cases, there is often no recourse for the plaintiff from the government defendant.

Special Relationship and State-Created Danger Doctrines

When immunity of a government entity exists but extenuating circumstances arise, the plaintiff may still be able to sue. There is a doctrine called the state-created danger doctrine which maintains a plaintiff’s right to sue the government if the entity’s action specifically placed the citizen in harm’s way and the government failed to protect that citizen despite placing him or her in this dangerous position. Another doctrine, the special relationship doctrine, holds the state responsible for taking steps to protect prisoners or others held by police while these individuals are in state custody.

Federal Tort Claims Act

When the federal government is involved in an injury through negligence by a federal employee, that employee can be sued through a federal tort. The Federal Tort Claims Act permits suits of tort against the government under specific guidelines. This provides the process for suing federal employees, but not independent contractors, who must be sued under their employer or individual names. Further, the Federal Tort Claims Act is only applicable when the employee being sued was on-the-job and performing his or her duty at the time of the injury or damages. Claims must be unintentional torts or negligence, not intentional torts. Finally, the claim must be permissible according to state laws where the incident occurred.

Statutes of Limitations in Government Claims

When suing the government, there are strict statutes of limitations that apply. A federal tort must be filed within two years following the incident of injury or damages. The federal government then has 180 days to respond to the claim and will either admit liability and offer a settlement, admit liability with no settlement or deny liability altogether. When liability is denied, the plaintiff can litigate the case in federal court with a personal injury attorney. When the government does not meet its own time restrictions of 180 days for response, the plaintiff can also proceed with a case.

Legal Assistance

When citizens believe they have suffered injury due to city, state or federal government negligence, they should consult a personal injury lawyer to discuss potential for a claim. In Arizona, Cantor Crane handles many such cases each year. If you have been injured due to negligence by the government, call Cantor Crane now for a free, no-obligation consultation at 602.254.2701.

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