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Governmental Premises Liability

Construction Injury Governmental Premises Liability

Government premises liability lawsuits occur on a daily basis. These cases imply the federal government is responsible for damages incurred in an accident, usually associated with poorly maintained sidewalks, roadway obstruction, and malfunctioning street signs.

Historically, civic entities enacted protection under what is called “sovereign immunity” from being sued or held responsible for a lawsuit. In 1946, the Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA) provided a limited waiver of sovereign immunity, and allowed citizens to file certain tort claims against the government. The California Tort Claims Act (CTCA), adapted from the FTCA, legislates how governmental premises liabilities are triable in California courts of law.

More Information about The Federal Tort Claims Act (FTCA)

The FTCA permits individuals to file claims against governmental entities if property damage or personal injury was caused by the neglect of an employee who was acting in the scope of his or her employment.

The FTCA allows claims for injury, property damage or wrongful death if:

1. the damage or injury was caused by a public employee; and

2. he or she was working within her capacity of employment; and

3. the accident was triggered by negligence; and

4. the claim would be triable in civil court; in other words, if you couldn’t sue someone for the same reason in civil court, then the FTCA will not cover it either.

Fall Social Security Administration Office

The Most Common Types of Government Premises Liability Cases

TorkLaw handles many types of federal tort claims, but the most common include:

  1. Accidents with government vehicles such as military vehicles, United States Postal Service trucks, state police cars, or city fire trucks
  2. Injuries that take place on military bases or public parks
  3. Injuries incurred at a brick-and-mortar government-owned buildings, such as the post office, a state government building or a city hall

For many years, we have litigated motor vehicle accidents involving government vehicles. We find that the most important action is to and put the government on notice of the claim as soon as possible. Without obtaining the accident report, this can be difficult to do. Our firm can obtain this report and assist with the other essential steps to correctly file your claim against the federal, state, county, or municipal government.

Filing a Federal Government Premises Liability Claim

If you wish to sue under the FTCA, you should first file a claim with the federal agency accountable for the alleged misconduct, within two years of the date of injury. For example, if your claim is based on an injury incurred at the post office, you would file your claim with the U.S. Postal Service.

The easiest way to prepare your administrative claim is to use the federal government’s basic claim form, known as SF95. You can download this form on the U.S. General Services Administration website.

Essential Parts of Submitting Claim Form SF95

Whether you have an attorney or not, you must complete Form SF95, and file it within two years of the date. Having an attorney will mitigate all chances of common errors, which, in the long run, can save you time, money, and potentially, your claim. The most important sections of Form SF95 are listed below:

Damages to Property or Person

In section 9, Property Damage, you must briefly explain the nature and level of damage to property. You will need to submit two property damage quotes with your claim. Use section 10, Personal Injury/Wrongful Death to briefly describe the nature and level of injury or fatality of a person.

Sum Certain

In sections 12 a-c, you need to declare a particular amount for each of the following: residential or commercial property damage, injury and/or wrongful death. In section 12d, you will provide a total sum of those amounts. If a sum is not noted in these boxes, then your form is incomplete, and this could cause your claim to be rejected automatically.

The sum certain is the area where people managing their own claims error most frequently. An attorney experienced in filing claims against government entities can help you appropriately complete and file Form SF95. They will also serve notice that their office represents you, so all future correspondence will be sent to their offices, so you do not need to deal with the government directly.

Valid Signature

You need to sign Form SF95 on your own in wet ink (vs. an electronic signature). If you fail to sign it, then it is considered insufficient and not filed. PRO TIP: Signing in blue ink makes it crystal clear that you signed the form in pen.

Here is a summary of how the administrative claim procedure works:

1) Provide all relevant facts and damages in your claim.

It should also include the precise amount of financial reparations you are claiming, as well as sufficient facts about your case to allow the government to examine the merits of your claim.

2) The agency has up to six months to respond to your filing.

When your claim is sent, the federal firm has six months to rule on it. Sometimes, a federal agency may “allow” your claim and consent to pay you the damages required, and you may not need to litigate.

3) You will then have six months to file a lawsuit if your claim is denied.

If the federal company declines your claim, or chooses not to pay all the cash damages you demanded, you have six months from the date on which the decision is mailed to you to file a suit. Again, submit your suit as soon as possible after receiving this choice to avoid any opportunity of having your lawsuit dismissed.
Government Premises Liability - Injury White House

Filing an Injury Claims against the Government in California

To sue a state, county, or municipal government in California, the injured person needs to initially notify the correct office of the claim within six months of the date of injury. A written notification should consist of:

  1. the complainant’s name and mailing address,
  2. the mailing address to which you require correspondence,
  3. the date, location, and description of what happened and how you were injured,
    a general description of the injury, damage, or loss (including medical expenses, lost earnings, property damage, and other losses),
  4. name of the government employee(s) that triggered the injury, and
  5. the amount you feel you are owed and how you came to that conclusion.

While you can simply compose a letter including this information, most municipalities have forms that simplify the procedure. For example, San Jose, Los Angeles, and San Diego all use a notice of claim downloadable from their websites.

Timeline for Filing Claims Under the CTCA

Prior to filing a lawsuit in court, the injured party needs to provide written notification of the claim to the government agency responsible. This notification should be filed within six months of the date of injury. The state government then has the option to accept or decline the claim. If it rejects all or part of the claim, the injured person may file a claim in court. You are not required to follow through with a suit if you offer notice of your claim, even if your claim is turned down, so it is smart to offer notification in order to keep your choices open.

A word of caution: There are legal penalties for fraudulent claims or false statements to either federal, state or municipal entities, consisting of fines up to $10,000 and 5 years in prison.

How Much Does an Attorney Charge for Government Premises Liability Claims?

Believe it or not, one of the easiest parts of any personal injury claim is paying for an attorney. Personal injuries lawyers typically do not charge an upfront fee; rather they work on a contingency basis, and are only paid if you win, based on a percentage of amounts recovered.

The Federal Government restricts attorneys’ fees to 20% of an out-of-court settlement or award. If filing a lawsuit is necessary, then the attorneys’ fees will likely increase. Lawsuits require greater resources than administrative proceedings, which is why the amount is higher.
Washington Monument - Injury - Fall

Speak to a Government Premises Liability Lawyer

Filing a claim against the government for injury requires time, attention to detail, knowledge of government premises liability laws, and a great deal of patience. One misstep during the filing procedure could result in a legal denial of all claims. Hiring an attorney who works on contingency can help you manage it all at no financial risk to you.

At TorkLaw, our firm understands this very complicated area of government premises liability claims in detail. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to answer your questions and schedule a free, no-obligation consultation that will bring more clarity to your situation. You can send us a message online, or give us a call at 888.845.9696.