Government Liability

Government Liability

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 make the government immune from responsibility or liability for certain types of harm its agents may cause to others or to property. However, the legislators have also lifted immunity for certain types of claims. 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 law makes it possible to receive compensation from the government for the negligent acts of its employees that end up injuring the public. The more common ways the government ends up liable for personal injuries are motor vehicle accidents, dangerous premises, and school accidents.

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. Sometimes, the cap is just not enough to fairly compensate our clients. For example, I once helped a client who was t-boned by a school bus where the driver ran a red light, clearly causing the client’s car to role. The 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. The government only had to pay her $717,100, which is only a fraction of her damages.

Also, keep in mind that, except for children under the age of 18, you have only one year from the date of the accident to send a notice of claim to the correct government official. A notice of claim is a letter that describes the accident, explains why the government is at fault for the accident, 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.

Please contact our law firm to discuss compensation.

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