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Determining Liability for Injuries Sustained in a Public Place

March 15, 2023Personal Injury

When it comes to determining liability for injuries sustained in a public place, it depends on the circumstances of the incident. However, it may be a government agency that is at fault.

When a Government Agency is Liable for an Injury in a Public Place

A government agency may be liable for an injury sustained in a public place if the injury was caused by a dangerous condition that the agency knew about or should have known about but failed to remedy. Government agencies, such as city or state governments, have a duty to maintain public areas, such as sidewalks, parks, and other public spaces, in a reasonably safe condition. Therefore, if a dangerous condition exists, such as a broken sidewalk or a hazardous condition in a park, the agency may be held liable for any injuries that result from the condition. However, in order to hold a government agency responsible for injuries sustained in a public place, there are certain procedural requirements that must be followed, and it can be challenging.

How to Hold a Government Agency Liable for an Injury Sustained in a Public Place

To hold a government agency responsible for an injury sustained in a public place in California, you must:

File a Government Claim Form

Within six months of the date of the injury, you must file a government claim form with the government agency that you believe is liable for your injury. The claim form must include specific information about the nature of the injury, the circumstances surrounding the injury, and the amount of money you are seeking in damages. You can obtain a government claim form from the government agency or on the California State website.

Wait for a Response

The government agency has 45 days from receiving the claim to respond. The agency can either accept the claim, reject the claim, or take no action. If the agency takes no action, you can consider the claim is denied.

File a Lawsuit

If the government agency denies your claim or fails to respond within 45 days, you can file a lawsuit against the agency. However, you cannot file a lawsuit until you have first filed a government claim form and received a response.

Potential Issues When Suing a Government Agency for an Injury

Suing a government agency for an injury can be a complex and difficult process. For example, here are some of the challenges that you may face:

  • Immunity: Government agencies are generally immune from lawsuits, which means that they cannot be sued without their consent. There are some exceptions to this rule in California, but they are limited. For example, government agencies can be sued for injuries caused by dangerous conditions on public property, but only if the agency knew or should have known about the condition and failed to remedy it.
  • Strict Time Limits: When filing a claim against a government agency in California, you must file a claim within six months of the date of the injury. If you miss this deadline, you may lose your right to file a lawsuit.
  • Procedural Requirements: Filing a claim against a government agency involves specific steps that if fail to comply with can result in the claim being rejected.
  • Government Defense: Government agencies have significant resources and often have experienced attorneys skilled at defending against personal injury claims. They may use their resources to delay the case, dispute liability, or minimize damages.
  • Limited Damages: In California, damages against government agencies are limited by law. For example, non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, are limited to $250,000 per claimant, and punitive damages are not available.

If you are considering suing a government agency for an injury sustained in a public place, it is critical to consult with an experienced Fresno personal injury attorney who can evaluate your case, advise you on your options, and help you navigate the legal process.