Government Tort Claims
Most government entities are protected by sovereign immunity, which means you cannot sue the government without its permission. However, Florida has waived sovereign immunity for many tort claims, including personal injury cases based on negligence.
Nonetheless, suing the government for damages caused by an accident or personal injury is not simple. Different rules apply in a government tort claims action than in a personal injury case involving a private individual or company.
The Notice of Claim Requirement for Filing a Florida Government Tort Claim
In Florida, injured parties must file a Notice of Claim with the Department of Financial Services to preserve their right to file a lawsuit against a government entity. The notice of claim must be filed in writing within three years of the injury date (two years for wrongful death). You cannot file a lawsuit until at least 180 days unless your claim is denied before the 180-day investigation period ends.
However, Florida recently changed the statute of limitations for negligence claims to two years. It is best to consult with a lawyer to determine the exact requirements for filing a government tort claim based on the facts and circumstances of your case.
The Government Tort Claims Process in Florida
The investigative process begins when the department opens a claim and assigns a claims adjuster to the case. The claims adjuster investigates the claim to determine whether the state is liable for damages.
A claims adjuster can settle the claim with the injured party. They can negotiate a settlement amount up to the caps for damages. However, the adjuster can also deny the claim.
If the claims adjuster denies the claim or the claim cannot be settled, then you can file a lawsuit and proceed to court.
Damage Caps for Government Tort Claims in Florida
Florida places a damage cap on government tort claims. Therefore, even if you sue the government and win, you might not receive compensation for all damages.
The damage cap for government tort claims is $200,000 for one party. If more than one party was injured, the case’s damage cap increases to $300,000. Injured parties can petition the legislature for additional compensation, but the process is complicated, and there is no guarantee of more damages.
Types of Government Tort Claims in Florida
There are many instances where a government employee or property could cause a person to sustain an injury. Examples of potential state tort claims in Florida include, but are not limited to:
- Medical malpractice
- Traffic accidents
- Slip and fall accidents
- Wrongful death
- Abuse in medical facilities or assisted living
- Poorly maintained roads, sidewalks, bridges, garages, and other government structures and property
As the injured party, you have the burden of proving your case if you sue a government entity in Florida. You must prove that the government or one of its employees was negligent. Negligence claims require you to prove the following:
- You were owed a duty of care
- The at-fault party breached the duty of care
- The breach of duty was the direct and proximate cause of your injury
- You sustained damages
You must prove your case by a preponderance of the evidence. The jury must believe there is more than a 50% chance that your allegations are true based on the evidence they heard in court.
However, you can attempt to negotiate a settlement with the state to avoid going to trial. Working with an experienced Gainesville tort claims lawyer gives the best chance of success.
What Damages Can I Receive for a Florida Tort Claim?
You can receive economic damages and non-economic damages up to the limit of the damage caps. Therefore, you could receive compensation for your:
- Medical bills and expenses
- Pain and suffering
- Out-of-pocket expenses
- Lost wages, benefits, and other income
- Rehabilitative therapies
- Disabilities, impairments, and disfigurement
- A decrease in earning capacity
- Diminished quality of life
You cannot receive punitive damages for a government tort claim. Only compensatory damages are allowed for a claim against a government entity in Florida.
What Should You Do if You Are Injured in an Accident Involving a Government Entity?
- Document the accident scene by taking photographs and making a video if possible. The evidence from the accident scene could provide the basis for winning your case. Also, ask bystanders and witnesses for their names and contact information.
- If you were involved in a traffic accident with a government vehicle, call 911 to report the crash and wait for the police officers to arrive. Slips, trips, falls, and other injuries on government property should be reported to the administrator or person managing the property as soon as possible.
- Seek immediate medical treatment for your injuries. Report all symptoms to your doctor. Detailed and correct medical records are crucial evidence in a government tort claim.
- Document your damages by keeping detailed records of all financial losses and expenses. Keep copies of all medical records and documents related to the accident.
- Contact our Gainesville government tort claims attorneys as soon as possible for a free consultation. The sooner you have legal advice, the better you can protect your right to compensation for damages.
Contact Us for a Free Consultation With Our Gainesville Personal Injury Lawyers
If you were injured on government property or by a government employee, you must act quickly to protect your right to compensation. Call Allen Law Firm, P.A. now at (877) 255-3652 for a free case evaluation with an experienced Gainesville personal injury attorney.