Personal Injury

Can You Sue the Government for Personal Injury?

You Can Sue the Government for Personal Injury

Most people believe that you cannot make a claim or sue the government for personal injury. This is only partially true. There are laws that let the government off the hook for certain types of harm its agents may cause to others or to property. However, lawmakers have lifted governmental immunity for certain types of claims, thus making it possible to sue the government for personal injury. In most cases of negligence, you can bring a claim or sue the government for personal injury. When a government agent or official acts negligently while on the job, you may be able to bring a claim for personal injury. The Utah law that waives immunity for negligence cases is U.C.A. 63G-7-301(2)(h)(i). This statute clearly states that the government is liable for the negligent acts of its employees that end up injuring the public:

Immunity from suit of each governmental entity is waived . . . as to any injury caused by: a defective, unsafe, or dangerous condition of any highway, road, street, alley, crosswalk, sidewalk, culvert, tunnel, bridge, viaduct, or other structure located on them; or any defective or dangerous condition of a public building, structure, dam, reservoir, or other public improvement; and . . . as to any injury proximately caused by a negligent act or omission of an employee committed with the scope of employment.

Like most laws, there are exceptions to this rule. The government did keep its immunity for some types of negligence cases. These limitations described in U.C.A. 63G-7-201(4) are not common occurrences and usually do not apply to personal injury claims. Some examples are for negligent inspection, criminal acts, natural conditions on public land, and the refusal to issue a permit or license.

There is a Cap on How Much Money You Can Get From the Government

There is a limit to how much you can receive from the government, regardless of how serious your injuries. This amount is arbitrarily set by your state legislatures. Currently, the most you can receive from the government for personal injury is $717,100. This amount is subject to change each year. For the most updated government cap amount, you can go to https://rules.utah.gov/publicat/code/r037/r037-004.htm. This cap has proven to be inadequate for a number of injured people.

We recently had a case where the client was t-boned by a school bus that ran a red light, causing the client’s car to role. Our client was hospitalized for 10 months, and will live the rest of her life in a wheel chair. Her medical bills exceeded $1,000,000, and she was sure to incur more in the future. The government only had to pay her $717,100, which is only a fraction of her damages.

Don’t Let Important Deadlines Pass; Act Now

Also, keep in mind that you have only one year to send a notice of claim to the correct government official. A notice of claim is a letter that explains the accident, why the government is at fault, and the nature of your injuries and damages. The letter must be sent via certified mail to the correct governmental representative for the responsible agency.

For example, if a child is injured at school due to the negligence of a teacher, then the notice of claim must be delivered to the superintendent of the school district. Out of an abundance of caution, you may also want to deliver the notice of claim to the Attorney General’s office. The government has a database that tells you the governmental official that is authorized to receive your notice of claim. The database can be found at https://corporations.utah.gov/gia/index.html. If you do not deliver the notice of claim to the right person within one year of the date of the injury, then you claim is completely barred, and there’s nothing you can do.

Once the notice of claim is delivered, the government has 90 days to respond to your notice. You then have one year to file a lawsuit from the date that the government responds to your notice. If the government provides no response before the 90-day deadline, then you have one year from 90-day deadline to file suit. If you have not filed suit within one year, then your claim is barred, and you can no longer recover money from the government.