It is legal to sue a Florida governmental body for injuries due to negligence, but it must be handled differently and more quickly than when suing an individual or business. It’s best to contact a personal injury lawyer as soon as possible to avoid losing your right to sue. As a personal injury attorney in Florida with expertise in pursuing legal claims against state and municipal entities, I will quickly examine your case and determine how to help you.
When you can sue the government
Florida law permits individuals to sue government bodies if:
- The injury was caused by the negligence, wrongful act, or omission of a state governmental entity or one of its employees whose actions as an employee caused the negligence
- The injured party’s losses can be compensated with money
- The negligent party (employee or governmental agency) would have been liable as a private party
Locations or causes of injuries caused by a municipality or its employees:
Public entities and public employees have the same duty of care as private citizens and organizations. Poorly maintained or dangerous conditions and negligent behavior can occur at any number of public sites or by any employee:
- Public parks or campgrounds, playgrounds, public libraries
- Public parking lots, curbs, sidewalks, crosswalks
- Government-run hospitals, nursing homes, or other health agencies
- Public schools or universities
- Governmental agency buildings, courthouses
- Veterans Administration hospitals
- Reckless driving or negligent behavior by any governmental employee while on duty: law enforcement officer, county or city employee, bus driver, waste management, postal truck, etc.
Suing the government in Florida
The Florida Statutes section 768.28 governs how citizens can sue governmental agencies. There are certain restrictions involved in suing the government in Florida, including:
- Punitive damages or interest that might have resulted before the judgment was made cannot be awarded in cases against the Florida government.
- Government employees cannot be held personally responsible for harm, unless they caused the harm intentionally. Instead, all claims must be filed against the government body or agency that employs them.
- Damages in cases against Florida’s government cannot exceed $200,000, or $300,000 total if the claim is against multiple state entities.
- If the judgment is greater than $200,000 (or $300,000, as described), you must seek a Claims Bill to go before the state legislature to vote in favor of your claim. This is rare.
- The state may appeal any resolution of the case.
- Actions against state universities must be introduced in the county where the university’s campus is located unless the university has a “substantial presence” in the county where the harm occurred.
- The statute of limitations is 3 years from the incident, 2 years if it resulted in death.
- You must give notice to the state agency involved with the claim and the Department of Financial Services, then wait 180 days for an investigational period.
You need help
As you can see, suing the government is not an easy task. You need someone on your side to help you through the process and increase your chance of success. Contact me at (954) 448-7288, 24/7 for a free consultation to see how I can help you.