Personal Injury: Filing a Lawsuit Against the City of Gainesville for Negligence
Bill Allen | April 27, 2023 | Personal Injury
If you suffer an injury caused by an employee or agent of the City of Gainesville, FL, can you file a lawsuit against the city? It depends, but most of the time you can. Suing a city for negligence, for example, is possible, but the rules are different. You can also sue for other reasons, such as intentional misconduct.
What Is “Sovereign Immunity”?
Suing a city for negligence invokes the legal principle of “sovereign immunity.” There is nothing mysterious about sovereign immunity. It just means you can’t sue a government for money damages without its permission. The reason is simple: money damages ultimately come out of taxpayer pockets, including perhaps even the injury victim’s pockets.
The Florida Tort Claims Act
The Florida Tort Claims Act is the way that the State of Florida gives you permission to sue it. “It,” in this case, includes both state government and city government entities; in Florida, cities are subdivisions of the state government.
This permission is not absolute in that some lawsuits are permissible to file, and some are not. Most personal injury lawsuits are allowed, however. Even permissible lawsuits are subject to certain limitations that make it more challenging to sue a government than to sue a private party.
The Rules: How a Lawsuit Against a Florida Municipality Differs From an Ordinary Lawsuit
Suing a municipal government in Florida works differently than suing a private party. You can sue a personal injury lawsuit against Gainesville if you could sue a private party for the same conduct you are complaining of. Nevertheless, the following procedural differences apply.
When you sue the city of Gainesville, you must provide it with written notice that includes the following information:
- A description of your losses;
- A statement of the facts underlying your claim (how the accident happened, etc.); and
- The date of the accident.
Once you file the notice, you must wait at least 180 more days to file a lawsuit. This will give Gainesville time to seek a settlement with you if it so chooses.
Certain limitations on the amount of your claim apply. These restrictions eliminate windfall personal injury claims against the City of Gainesville or any other subdivision of the Florida state government.
- Without special permission from the Florida state government, you cannot obtain more than $200,000 in damages.
- You cannot obtain interest on amounts that arose before your case was finalized.
- You cannot seek damages directly from any municipal government employee, unless the employee acted intentionally. Seeking damages against a municipal government employee is typically pointless anyway because municipal employees seldom possess the resources to pay personal injury claims.
Additionally, the principle of comparative negligence applies to claims against Gainesville just as it applies to other Florida negligence claims. Due to a recent change in the law, Florida no follows a “modified” comparative negligence standard with a 51% recovery bar.
Common Personal Injury Lawsuits Against Municipal Governments
The following are some of the most common types of personal injury lawsuits filed against municipal governments in Florida.
- Slip and fall accidents: Gainesville has the obligation to keep city-owned or managed premises safe for visitors. If you fall and break your hip on a slippery floor that the state should have kept dry, for example, you might have a slip and fall claim. This type of claim might also apply if you slip and fall on icy steps.
- Car accidents: Most personal injury claims arise from car accidents. Among these, most occur because one or both of the drivers involved were driving carelessly. If a city employee is mostly at fault for a car accident that injures you, you can sue the city government.
Other types of personal injury claims are also possible.
You’re Almost Certainly Going To Need a Lawyer for This One
It can be particularly difficult to sue a city for negligence because a negligence lawsuit against a city government is a rare type of claim. It is for this reason, and perhaps others, that you need to seek the services of an experienced Gainesville personal injury lawyer to handle your lawsuit.
Remember-–the way most personal injury lawyers do business, you only pay legal fees if you receive compensation. Otherwise, your lawyer works for free.
Contact Our Gainesville Personal Injury Law Firm in North Central Florida
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